Whitney Houston: The Musical Superstar dies at 48
American singer and actress Whitney Houston has died in Los Angeles at the age of 48.
Police said she died in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she had been staying as a guest.
Houston was one of the most celebrated female singers of all time, with hits including I Will Always Love You and Saving All My Love For You.
But her later career was overshadowed by substance abuse and her turbulent marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
Police spokesman Mark Rosen told reporters Houston was pronounced dead at 15:55 pm (23:55 GMT) in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Fire department personnel and members of hotel security were attempting to resuscitate her when police arrived at the scene, he said, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
“She has been positively identified by friends and family that were with her at the hotel, and next of kin have already been notified,” he added.
The cause of her death remains unclear but Mr Rosen said there were “no obvious signs of criminal intent”.
Houston’s background was steeped in soul and gospel music.
Her mother was gospel singer Cissy Houston, she was cousin to singer Dionne Warwick and goddaughter to Aretha Franklin.
“I just can’t talk about it now,” Ms Franklin said in a short statement. “It’s so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen.”
The music industry, hours before this years Grammy Awards ceremony, can scarcely believe the news. Whitney Houston had been planning to attend a pre-Grammys party thrown by her mentor and close friend, Clive Davis.
Guests have begun to arrive for the party, but it is unclear whether the event will go ahead. The scene at the Beverly hotel is frenzied. As well as police and the authorities, fans and the world’s media have begun to gather.
The cause of Houston’s death is unclear, with the police saying investigations are ongoing. It may take days or even weeks for tests to return with conclusive answers.
Having grown up in New Jersey, Houston began singing in church and then in the night clubs of New York, and was a model before being signed by Arista Records.
At the height of her career in the 1980s and 90s she won many awards and enjoyed several number one singles and albums.
Artists from Mariah Carey to Christina Aguilera have tried to emulate her bravura performances, but none of them were as good as the original, music critic Paul Gambaccini told the BBC.
Houston also enjoyed success acting in blockbuster films such as The Bodyguard and Waiting to Exhale.
In recent years drug use took its toll on the star and her voice – once acknowledged as one of the finest in pop music – was badly damaged.
“She did have it all, but the record is there of the decline into drug use and the damage done from drug use,” said Gambaccini.
Her marriage to Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, ended in divorce in 2007. The marriage had been a tempestuous one, with allegations of domestic abuse.
Beverly Hilton, Los Angeles Houston was found on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel
“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a 2002 interview.
Correspondents say Houston’s death will undoubtedly overshadow the music industry’s Grammy Awards, due to be held in Los Angeles on Sunday.
She had been expected to attend the ceremony and her close friend and long-time mentor Clive Davis had recently hinted she might perform.
“It’s her favourite night of the year … who knows by the end of the evening,” he had told AP.
Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton said that on the morning of the Grammys, “the world should pause and pray for the memory of a gifted songbird”.
Country singer Dolly Parton – who wrote one one of her most memorable hits, I Will Always Love You – said in a statement: “Mine is only one of the millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston.”
“I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song, and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, ‘Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed’.”
Whitney Houston dies: The rise and fall of a superstar
US singer and actress Whitney Houston has died in Los Angeles, aged 48. We look back at the rise and tragic fall of a superstar.
For the golden girl of the music industry from the mid-80s to the late 90s, Whitney Houston’s decline, when it came, was spectacular.
Her once serene image, matched by her majestic voice, was shattered by drug use in her later career and has come to be seen as a cautionary tale.
Houston was born with unusually good musical genes. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick, and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.
As a child, Whitney sang in the church, but by her teens was a backup singer for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, as well as being involved in modelling.
By the late 1980s, she had become one of the world’s best-selling artists, notching up worldwide album sales of 200 million.
Whitney Houston’s Tumultuous marriage
Her eponymous 1985 album sold millions and spawned several hits including Grammy winner Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know, You Give Good Love, and The Greatest Love of All.
Her 1987 hit album Whitney included the hits Where Do Broken Hearts Go and I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
Her effortless and powerful vocals also brought success in Hollywood.
In 1992 she starred in The Bodyguard, which also gave her the memorable number one hit I Will Always Love You – a cover of a Dolly Parton song.
It was the Grammy record of the year and remained at the top of the charts for weeks.
Whitney returned to the big screen in 1995 and 1996 with Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife – both spawning soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album.
But she had started to abuse drugs – cocaine, marijuana and pills – and the hits stopped.
Her behaviour became more and more erratic. Her tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, whose career was also overshadowed by drug abuse, became a public spectacle.
Whitney’s once flawless voice became raspy and hoarse, and she was unable to hit the high notes for which she had become famous.
She was so thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert, that rumours spread she had died the next day.
She told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2002: “The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy.”
Houston tried to stage a comeback with the 2009 album I Look To You, but things fell apart when a concert to promote the album was clearly off-key.
Broadcaster and music journalist Paul Gambaccini described Whitney’s Houston’s voice as “the template for female vocal performers for the last 30 years”.
But in the end, he told the BBC, she became the victim of a “self-administered decline” and, sadly, threw all it all away.
“It’s always a tragedy; it’s a life lost, a great talent squandered,” he said.
Whitney Houston: Death of a The Musical Superstar
With her incredible vocal range and purity, runway good looks and girl-next-door charm, Whitney Houston was an out-of-the-box superstar when she arrived on the music scene in 1985. Her meteoric rise included record-setting hits, groundbreaking videos and a promising film career.
Whitney Houston, whose stellar voice made her a superstar but who was long plagued by personal problems including drug abuse, died Saturday. She was 48.
Whitney Houston, whose stellar voice made her a superstar but who was long plagued by personal problems including drug abuse, died Saturday. She was 48.
But by the mid-1990s, rumors of marital woes and drug abuse began to tarnish her image and she took a downward spiral that saw her name emblazoned in sordid tabloid headlines rather than glowing reports of musical success.
Word of the 48-year-old singer’s death broke early Saturday evening as the industry gathered in Los Angeles for the official Pre-Grammy Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel hosted by her mentor Clive Davis, chief creative officer of Sony Music Worldwide. Her publicist, Kristen Foster, confirmed that the singer died in her room at the Beverly Hilton, but the cause of her death is unknown. Houston had been expected to attend the gala.
The party went ahead as planned, though Houston’s body was still in the building. Among the celebrities seen arriving for the gala: Britney Spears, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Serena Williams, Jon Voight, Skrillex, David Foster, Diane Warren, Penny Marshall and Neil Young and his wife Pegi.
In recent years, Houston had struggled to regain her past glory. In 2009, she released I Look to You, her first studio album in seven years and first since going through rehab and divorcing Bobby Brown, her husband of 14 years, in 2006. While the album did debut at No. 1 and sold more than 1 million copies, it failed to produce any massive hit singles, or receive hoped-for Grammy Awards nominations. Her subsequent overseas tour met with mixed reviews, with disappointed fans demanding refunds.
“She don’t want to come, my soprano friend,” Houston crooned from the stage after stumbling through her signature songs at London’s O2 arena in April 2010. “Sometimes the old girl sings, but not tonight,” she said of her voice. “I want to do it, but she doesn’t want to. … She’s getting a little … temperamental, even.”
It was a sad end for the once incandescent star who paved the way to pop success for other African-American singers such as Janet Jackson, Anita Baker, Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige, and has been cited by the likes of Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Leona Lewis for inspiring them to become singers. The gospel-trained Houston was the daughter of singer Cissy Houston, goddaughter of Aretha Franklin and cousin of Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick.
Houston was already an up-and-coming magazine model (she was one of the first women of color to grace the cover of Seventeen) when record mogul Clive Davis signed her to his Arista Records label in 1983. In an interview accompanying the 2010 reissue of her debut album, Whitney Houston: The Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition, Davis recalls first seeing her backing up her mother at the New York City club Sweetwater’s.
“She did two solo numbers, one of which was the song The Greatest Love Of All. Whitney sang the song with such fervor, with such a natural vocal gift, with such passion, that I was stunned. I knew really right then and there that this was a special talent, and I was blown away by her,” Davis recalled. “There was no hesitation. I wanted to sign Whitney.”
Together, they would make music history. Davis spent more than a year grooming Houston, lining up producers and collecting the right material. Her first hit, Hold Me, a duet with Teddy Pendergrass for his 1984 Love Language album, went to No. 5 on the R&B chart. It was a precursor to Whitney Houston, which arrived in 1985 to rave reviews.
First single You Give Good Love was a top 5 pop hit, and its follow-up, Saving All My Love for You, was even bigger. It went to No. 1, as did How Will I Know, the video for which became one of the first by an African-American female to get heavy rotation on MTV. The Greatest Love of All also spent three weeks at the top of the charts, and Whitney Houston wound up selling 13 million copies domestically.
She earned three nominations at the 1986 Grammy Awards, including one for album of the year. Saving All My Love for You won for female pop vocal, and her performance of the song on the show would win her an Emmy Award later that year. The Greatest Love of All would also be nominated for record of the year at the following year’s Grammys.
Houston’s superstardom was solidified in 1987 with the release of Whitney, which sold 9 million copies in the USA and spawned four No. 1 singles —I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),Didn’t We Almost Have It All, So Emotional and Where Do Broken Hearts Go— to give her a record seven chart-toppers in a row. A fifth single, Love Will Save the Day, was a top 10 hit. Thanks to her record sales and concert grosses for 1986 and 1987, Forbes ranked her as the eighth-highest-earning entertainer at the time.
Her crossover success was unprecedented for an African-American woman, but she soon found herself defending it against critics, who claimed her hits lacked soul. Her third album, 1990’s I’m Your Baby Tonight, took her in a more urban direction thanks to production by L.A. Reid, Babyface, Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross, but its reception was less spectacular. The album peaked at No. 3 while selling 4 million copies, though singles I’m Your Baby Tonight and All the Man That I Need topped both the pop and R&B charts.
Still, big things and big changes were on the horizon for Houston, whose 1991 Super Bowl performance of The Star Spangled Banner remains the yardstick by which other singers are judged. Two things happened in 1992 that would profound alter her career: She made a move into acting and making soundtracks with The Bodyguard, and after a three-year courtship, she married R&B singer and former New Edition member Bobby Brown.
In The Bodyguard, she starred as a singer being protected from a stalker fan by Kevin Costner’s title character. The film grossed more than $121 million at the box office, and the soundtrack had an even bigger payoff for Houston. Her cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You, distinguished by Houston’s a cappella intro, stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a then-record 14 consecutive weeks and had significant stints atop the R&B and adult contemporary charts as well.
The album also spawned top five hits I’m Every Woman (a Chaka Khan hit on which Houston had sung background when she was 15) and I Have Nothing. The album sold 17 million copies in the USA, won three Grammys, including album and record of the year, plus a slew of other awards.
Two years later, Houston performed at a state dinner at the White House honoring newly elected South African President Nelson Mandela, and she would later be the first major artist to perform in that country, playing three shows to 200,000 people.
Her next film, 1995’s Waiting to Exhale starring Angela Bassett, was also a hit with a huge soundtrack. This time, she teamed with Babyface to co-produce the star-studded album, and she contributed to its success with Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Why Does It Hurt So Bad and Count On Me, a duet with CeCe Winans.
She earned $10 million for her next role, 1996’s The Preacher’s Wife, which starred Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance. While it didn’t do as well at the box office as the previous two films, Houston got her best review yet as an actress. The soundtrack saw Houston cutting loose in a gospel setting. It featured six songs with the Georgia Mass Choir, including He’s All Over Me with gospel legend Shirley Caesar. I Believe in You and Me and Step By Step were both radio hits.
Houston branched off into TV in 1997, producing a remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Brandy with Houston as the Fairy Godmother. The highly rated ABC special earned seven Emmy nominations. That set the stage for Houston’s first studio album in eight years, My Love Is Your Love. The album sold 4 million copies in the USA, and spawned a successful world tour, but peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard album chart, making it her first album to fall short of the top three. Still, with production by Wyclef Jean, Missy Elliott and Rodney Jerkins, it had the hits When You Believe with Mariah Carey, Heartbreak Hotel, It’s Not Right But It’s Okay, My Love Is Your Love and I Learned From the Best.
As the ’90s closed, Houston’s popularity was beginning to wane just as rumors about drug use with Brown swirled and reports began surfacing about erratic behavior and weight loss, along with missed interviews and canceled concerts. On Jan. 11, 2000, marijuana was discovered in Houston’s and Brown’s luggage as they passed through security at a Hawaii airport, though they boarded the plane and left before police arrived. Two months later, she was conspicuously missing when Clive Davis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was also to have performed on the Academy Awards, but was fired by musical director Burt Bacharach.
She signed a $100 million, six-album deal with Arista/BMG in 2001, but after appearing on the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, her extremely thin frame fueled more rumors of drug abuse. Those rumors were confirmed a year later when she did an interview with Diane Sawyer to promote her upcoming Just Whitney. She admitted using drugs in the highly watched TV interview, which included her infamous declaration, “Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. OK? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is wack.”
Just Whitney was her poorest-selling album to date, and none of its singles made the Hot 100’s top 40. She got positive reviews for 2003’s One Wish: The Holiday Album, but only modest sales.
Houston’s image took further pummeling on the sordid 2005 Bravo reality series Being Bobby Brown, which gave an inside look into their family life. Critics savaged the show, but morbidly fascinated viewers tuned in to see just how low they could sink. The show was canceled after Houston decided to no longer participate. She separated from Brown in September 2006 and the divorce was finalized in 2007, with Houston given custody of the couple’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
In a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey to promote I Look To You, Houston blamed an emotional abusive and jealous Brown for many of her problems, confessed that she laced her marijuana with rock cocaine and revealed that she’d spent time in rehab and had undergone an intervention by her mother.
The album made its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart with a career-best opening week of 305,000 copies sold. It was her first chart-topping album since 1992’s The Bodyguard. But the title track and the Alicia Keys-penned Million Dollar Bill had only modest success.
Her post-release TV appearances were also spotty. Though the fans responded warmly, she had to apologize for her voice cracking at a three-song Good Morning America concert in New York’s Central Park. It came not long after the Oprah interview, which she says wore out her vocal cords. She gave a much better received performance of I Didn’t Know My Own Strength on the American Music Awards two months later.
But the savage reviews of what would be her final tour in 2010 remain a stark reminder of the gorgeous voice she once had, and how much she lost to years of drug abuse and personal turmoil.
Whitney Houston Funeral: Full Video
Remembering Whitney Houston 1963-2012 (Video)
Janet Jackson Comments On Whitney’s Death
It’s been over two years since Janet Jackson lost her brother Michael, but not a day goes by where the late King of Pop isn’t on her mind.
On Saturday, Janet suffered another tragic loss: the untimely death of her friend Whitney Houston. “I couldn’t believe it,” she told Anderson Cooper on his eponymous talk show in an interview set to air Feb. 20. “Immediately I started shaking…I was speechless.”
Besides her undeniable talent, what is it about Whitney that Janet will always remember?
“She was such a sweet, sweet soul,” Jackson told Cooper. “Especially back in the early ’80s and early ’90s is when I connected with Whitney the most. It doesn’t matter if we were doing an awards show. We would always take the time to find one another…We always found the time to talk to one another.”
“I pray for [Whitney’s daughter Bobbi Kristina] and her family, even Bobby [Brown],” Janet said. “I mean, he’s gong through so much. They are all going through so much. The mother, it’s very sad.”
Janet’s comments came after the entire Jackson family released a statement Monday saying how much they would miss Houston, “one of the world’s most gifted vocalists and talented entertainers.” They asked “everyone to consider her family at this time of difficulty by granting them to patience and comfort they need to mourn their loss in peace.”
Janet also offered up some words of wisdom to 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina.
“It’s very difficult,” Janet said of losing a family member. “You have to come to terms with it at some point. You have to actually give it up to God, and it sounds so mean, but you have to move on. You can’t hold onto that because it can be very devastating. Sometimes therapy is the best thing.”
While you might never get closure about a loved one’s death, “you have to go on with your life.”
“You figure out a way to move on,” Janet added. “[But] it’s always right there.”
Other stars react to Whitney Houston’s death
Celebrities are reacting on Twitter to the news of Whitney Houston’s death:
“My heartfelt condolences to Whitney’s family and to all her millions of fans throughout the world. She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.”
“No words. Just tears. #DearWhitney”
“I’m distraught over the news that Whitney Houston has died! She was the most INCREDIBLE talent. What another sad day for the world.”
“Tell our loved ones how much we love them while they’re still here. I wish I could’ve told Whitney how great she was one last time”
“My family & I are saddened by the loss of a true icon & legend – Whitney Houston. Our thoughts & prayers are w/ the entire Houston family.”
“This is the saddest thing I’ve ever had to write in my life, R I P to one of the greatest humans that I have ever known Whitney Houston”
“R.I.P. Sister WHITNEY HOUSTON!!!!! We will always love you.”
“Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time.”
“My heart is weeping…RIP to the Legendary Diva & Icon Whitney Houston!!!!! Such an incredible influence over music as a whole!”
Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson:
“Cookie & I are shocked & saddened about the news of WhitneyHouston. A great friend & one of the most beautiful voices this world”
“Whitney Houston was the first cd I ever bought. She had a God given gift. Hopefully, she’s singing with angels now.” Later, she also tweeted: “I can’t stop crying. I have a show to do soon. Wow, I learned how to do what I do because of 3 great women, one being Whitney. She was always so kind to me. This is not gonna be an easy show for sure. I’m doing what she taught me to do by listening to her records over & over as a little girl. Her death is very surreal.”
“#RIPWhitneyHouston #IWillAlwaysLoveYou will remain a classic.”
“It’s a tragedy. Whitney Houston was the greatest singer I’ve ever heard and she will be truly missed.”
“RIP Whitney Houston.”
“Rest in Peace Whitney We are heartbroken. She had the voice of an angel and a true artist’s soul. Our deep love…”
“My heart is saddened.. Everyone please keep Whitney Houstons family in their prayers.. May she rest in peace”
“I found my voice singing Whitney Houston’s music. Today I lost my idol.”
“R.I.P. Whitney Houston, really can’t believe this”
“just heard the news. so crazy. One of the GREATEST VOICES EVER just passed. RIP Whitney Houston. My prayers go out to her friends and family”
“Devastating news about Whitney Houston. What an amazing talent.”
“I’m in Houston on the night we lose WhitneyHouston .. Tonight’s show is dedicated to her legacy .. Get to the Verizon Wireless Theater!!!”
“How tragic to hear about Whitney Houston’s passing. Such a shame. She had one of the most iconic voices of my lifetime. #rip”
“R.I.P Whitney Houston dead at 48. Music is forever though”
Billy Ray Cyrus:
“R. I. P. Whitney Houston. I will always love you and your music and talents will live on forever.”