How Amy Winehouse Became a Touring Hologram

ISSUE 1 2019 - DO NOT REUSE - ONE TIME USE ONLY
Illustration by Rob Dobi
         

During the past few years, BASE Hologram has brought shimmering reconstructions of Roy Orbison and Maria Callas to stages around the world, but the company’s next tour might be its most anticipated yet: a world jaunt for holo-Amy Winehouse, set to debut before the end of 2019. “We are presenting her in terms of the stage presence and the passion that she brought to her music,” says BASE Entertainment CEO Brian Becker. But creating a believable onstage image is just one part of a complicated process.

Lock Down The Legal

Before any creative decisions could be made, BASE needed to secure the licensing rights to Winehouse’s likeness and image -- controlled by her estate through her father, Mitch -- and her master recordings, owned by Universal Music Group. In this case, BASE worked with both UMG and the estate from an early stage. (The latter will donate all proceeds to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, fostering drug and alcohol abuse awareness among young people.) “It’s really a collaborative vision,” says Becker.

Plot Out Tour Potential

In 2018 -- seven years after her death -- Winehouse’s catalog sold 301,000 equivalent album units in the United States alone, according to Nielsen Music. That indicated to Becker that there was sufficient fan interest to support a world tour, so he engaged Paradigm Talent Agency and U.K. affiliate Coda to book shows. “People have such an emotional connection to music, and they have certain expectations,” he says. “The biggest responsibility we have is recognizing that and being sensitive to it -- but at the same time, creating something entertaining and satisfying.”

Get (Really) Creative

A tour like Winehouse’s is less like a traditional concert than a theatrical production, with the requisite staff: a director, a script writer, lighting, sound and costume designers, a choreographer and a live band. And then there’s a Winehouse stand-in: an actress cast to rehearse for up to 12 weeks as the show and technology get refined, and then filmed before hitting the road. “Because her life ended with a tragic, early death, the world was left wanting and wondering what she would do next,” says Becker. “So we try to think about this creatively.”

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 12 issue of Billboard.