Amy Winehouse hologram tour postponed due to 'unique sensitivities'

Base Hologram, which was planning a concert tour featuring the deceased singer, says ‘creativity does not necessarily follow a schedule’

The company developing an Amy Winehouse hologram tour has postponed the project. Base Hologram said in a statement that it had encountered “some unique challenges and sensitivities” on the path to “remembering Amy Winehouse and her legacy in the most celebratory and respectful way possible”.

In a further statement issued to Billboard magazine, Base chairman and CEO Brian Becker described the production as a “cross between a Broadway show and a concert spectacle which requires creative engineering”, and added: “that type of creativity does not necessarily follow a schedule.”

Announced in October 2018, the tour had been set to feature a hologram likeness of Winehouse backed by a live band. Despite Winehouse’s family supporting the tour, some people have questioned the ethics of the endeavour.

“Consent for holograms is going to be a hot topic,” Catherine Allen, founder of the arts venue virtual reality platform Limina Immersive and an expert on VR and its ethics, told the Guardian last year. “As long as the person has consented it’s fine. And this is where it gets tricky with Amy.”

‘Consent for holograms is going to be a hot topic’ ... Amy Winehouse.
‘Consent for holograms is going to be a hot topic’ ... Amy Winehouse. Photograph: Allstar/Altitude Film Distribution

An unnamed actor in Los Angeles recently told GQ that she believed she had unwittingly auditioned to play Winehouse’s body double for the hologram tour, believing that she was trying out for a new biopic to be produced by Alison Owens and Debra Hayward. She told GQ that she was sent links to videos of Winehouse singing Valerie and Rehab live, and told to “replicate this performance and really home in on Amy’s nuances”.

She says that she later realised that Gary Shoefield, head of content development at Base Hologram, was present at the audition. When she attended a third meeting and asked if the role had anything to do with the hologram tour, “he just shut down and didn’t want to talk about it”. She told GQ it was the last she heard from them.

The Winehouse tour is Base Hologram’s third such project. Its Roy Orbison show toured the UK and US last year, and its show with opera singer Maria Callas will begin touring in April. Since 2012, when a hologram of Tupac Shakur appeared at the Coachella festival in California, the technology has become increasingly common. Abba have said they will use the technology as part of a new “virtual experience”, expected to debut this year.

Winehouse’s last performance was at the Tuborg festival in Belgrade on 18 June 2011. The chaotic set, during which she slurred lyrics and forgot the names of her band members, led to the cancellation of a European tour. She was found dead at her home in Camden, north London, on 23 July 2011.

Winehouse’s former collaborator, Salaam Remi, recently released a previously unheard track featuring the late soul singer’s vocals. Find My Love, which also features rapper Nas, will appear on Remi’s forthcoming collaboration, Do It for the Culture 2.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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