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Amy Winehouse became an international success after the release of ‘Back to Black’ her second album, which featured the infamous track ‘Rehab’. The London-born star won scores of awards during her time in the music industry before her death in 2011. The ninth anniversary of her passing looms next month and many fans will be reflecting on her inspiring career along with its tragic end. One of her most notable hits was ‘Valerie’, a cover of the song originally written by Liverpool band The Zutons. Their lead singer penned the lyrics after a brief romance in the US, in which he hoped ‘Valerie’ would follow him back to the UK only for trouble to find her along the way. Unearthed accounts reveal the true story behind that infamous track.
The auburn haired muse behind the eponymous track was revealed to be Valerie Star, who frontman Dave McCabe wrote about in 2006.
She revealed a number of the lyrics in the song referred to their love affair during a 2019 interview with Vice.
Valerie explained that the words “Do you need a good lawyer?” referred to several driving offences that nearly landed her in jail.
Additionally, the line “Why don’t you come on over Valerie?” spoke of her plans to move to be with him in Liverpool, only for it all to fall through because of the charges against her.
While The Zutons experienced success with the song, once Mark Ronson produced Amy Winehouse’s cover in 2007 it became larger than any of them could have imagined.
Valerie approached Dave after hearing him perform at a gig in Florida to compliment their “unique sound”, which was unlike anything she had heard before.
She said: “Just the electricity they made on stage together as a band was just beautiful.
“When they came off stage, I saw Dave walk out and grabbed him. I was like, ‘I need to buy you a drink. You guys were great.’
“One drink turned into god knows how many. A lot. We didn’t stay. We all went to another bar. And then another.”
Their night continued at her friend’s place, where they “drank champagne on the roof until the sun came up”.
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After that night, Valerie continued to “meet him in different cities” and explained that they had “so much fun together”.
She was due to move to Liverpool but admitted that she was arrested after she had ignored speeding tickets and other charges.
Valerie “spent every cent” she had fighting her legal case – which she claimed was where the lyrics “Did you have to go to jail? Did your house go up for sale?” originated from.
Nine months later she realised she couldn’t “uproot [her] life” and move to Liverpool “with absolutely no money”.
She said: “Because I’m not going to be one of those people that’s like, ‘so you’re just going to pay for everything, right?’ Yeah, I can’t do that. Those people, I want to kick.”
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Valerie eventually moved to New York instead and admitted her favourite lyrics were “I’ve missed your ginger hair and the way you like to dress”.
She said: “It really was about that part of my life. I was dressing ridiculously fabulous, following around this boy in a band, and getting arrested really well.”
Valerie reflected that while she claimed to “love him profusely” nothing could happen between them as “he’s on the other side of the world”.
She added: “It’s like a candy-coating sprinkled with unicorn dust, but in reality it just doesn’t work.
“Because both of us are rooted in our cities. Neither of us do things that are portable – I can’t just uproot and go there.
“I mean, have you seen the makeup looks in Liverpool? No, thank you. It’s a look of its own.”
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