Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Whitney Houston R.I.P. August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston R.I.P. August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012
Whitney Houston R.I.P. August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012

“One of the greatest singers that ever lived.” The feeling of many artists and VIPs, after hearing the shock news that Whitney Houston has been found dead on Saturday afternoon, US time, (11th Feb 2012) in a Beverley Hills hotel room.

As 800 guests arrived for a pre-Grammy’s party held by Arista records boss and the man Whitney called her “Father” in the industry, they were stunned to be greeted with the sad news, and see ranks of police officers and media gathered at the Hotel.

It is understood one of her entourage – ironically, considering her famed movie role - her bodyguard, discovered her body and called hotel security, who in turn called 911. The paramedics were on the scene in minutes, as they were already in the hotel. They spent about 20 minutes administering CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Unconfirmed reports suggest she may have been found in the bath.

Beverly Hills police Lt Mark Rosen, told reporters that Houston was pronounced dead at 3.55pm local time in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton. Paramedics had unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the singer, he added. Initial statements from police said there was no sign of criminal intent, and Houston's publicist said on Saturday night that the cause of death was still undetermined.
Clive Davies, who signed Whitney to Arista in 1983 and has stood by her through her troubled times, was hugged by Alicia Keys as he arrived at the hotel, both looking tearful. Sir Richard Branson was among the guests arriving to hear the news.

Inside, at the pre-Grammy’s bash, Clive Davis emotionally read from a statement and told his guests how he was “devastated” at the star's death. But how she would have wanted the music to go on.
It was at the same annual gala two decades ago, that Clive introduced Whitney to the music industry. Tonight, while he spoke about her, coroner’s officials and police were examining her lifeless body upstairs in the same building.

As celebrities such as Tony Bennett, Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige and Jennifer Hudson listened, Clive told his guests: "I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me. She was full of life, looking forward for tonight. She loved music and she loved this night that celebrated music."

"Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage ... so many times. So simply put: Whitney would have wanted the music to go on." After a period of total silence in the room as a giant photograph of Whitney, hands wide open, looking to the sky, appeared on a screen, he dedicated the night to Whitney, and said her family had told him they wanted it to go ahead. “Now ladies and gentlemen, let the music begin."

Tony Bennett, took to the stage as the evening's first performer, and he listed recent mega-music biz icons we have lost. "First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston.” He courted controversy too, by publicly calling for the legalisation of drugs, and by implication, jumping to the conclusion that Whitney had lost her life to addiction. “Let's legalise drugs, like Amsterdam, it's a very sane city now." He said he called Clive Davis when he first heard her voice, and told him she was "the greatest singer I've ever heard in my life."

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was singer, actress, producer, and model. In 2009, the Guinness World Records cited her as the most-awarded female act of all time. Her list of awards includes two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston was also one of the world's best-selling music artists.

Houston released seven studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums, all of which have diamond, multi-platinum, platinum or gold certification. She was the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits.

Houston's 1985 debut album Whitney Houston, became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release.

Her death attracted more than a thousand tweets a second on Twitter, within an hour of the news. "The first full hour after the news broke saw 2,481,652 tweets and retweets, peaking at 61,227 tweets at 5:23 p.m. (PST)," according to, which indexes and ranks results based on the most influential conversations on social media.

Mitch Winehouse, paid tribute to Houston and the recently deceased Etta James on Twitter. "Amy, Etta, Whitney. Their music will NEVER die. What a great girl group in heaven. Mitch." Winehouse, who was in Los Angeles when he heard the news about Whitney’s death, said he was "absolutely devastated."

Legendary music producer Quincy Jones said in a written statement. ""I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney's passing. I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly."

Actor Will Smith said, “R.I.P Whitney Houston Gone but never forgotten.” Mariah Carey was said to be “heartbroken and in tears” at the news.

Christina Aguilera: "Whitney's voice was so special to me. Her notes soared to places most singers dream of reaching. She will be missed." Kelly Rowland: "I am beyond heartbroken. Whitney Houston was undoubtedly one of the greatest singers and performers of all time and such a huge influence on me."

Smokey Robinson:” I’ve known Whitney since she was a little girl and I loved her. She was like family to me. I will miss her." Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records: "Whitney Houston was not only an amazing artist but also a beautiful person. She was so smart and her knowledge and appreciation for the musical art form was remarkable. Every time we would see each other, we always had wonderful conversations about life and the business."

Dolly Parton: "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.'"

British soul star Ruby Turner, told Blues & Soul of her sadness at the news of Whitney's passing. "This is such a sad time for everyone who grew up with this amazing lady. She was one of our greatest vocalists ever; make no mistake. Many have come along since, but as poor imitations, seeking that money note. They got that alright and the industry thrived on it."
"But Whitney set the bar, and we should never forget that. Magnificent yet fragile and vulnerable. Just human. Somewhere along the way, she lost her fight against the evil that devoured that amazing talent. We longed for her return, but never no more. We mourn. Steal away home to Jesus ..... RIP"

Whitney has sold over 200 million records – among her hits were How Will I Know, Saving All My Love for You and I Will Always Love You - and had 11 number ones in the USA. She was from a dynasty of mega talented singers, with gospel star Cissy Houston her mother and Dionne Warwick her cousin. Whitney’s Godmother Aretha Franklin said of her sudden death: “"I just can't talk about it now. It's so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen."

Jennifer Hudson was due to pay tribute to Whitney at the Grammy’s, just a few hours after her passing. Six time Grammy winner Whitney was due to be at the awards ceremony, where she has performed several times over the years. She had been seen at rehearsals for the show, coaching singers Brandy and Monica. Brandy is rapper Ray J’s sister, and rumours were rife that Ray and Whitney were an item, and it is said he was staying in the hotel with Whitney and her team.
She had previously admitted abusing alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and pills. Houston told ABC in a 2002 interview with then-husband Bobby Brown by her side: ““The biggest devil is me. I am either my best friend or my worst enemy.” She had battled with a drug addiction, and was photographed and filmed coming out of club Tru in Hollywood, looking sweaty, disheveled and bleeding, just two days before she died.

Her ex husband Bobbie Brown was said to be “beside himself with grief” at the news of her death. The pair married in 1992, and divorced in 2007 after a stormy marriage. The couple had one daughter, Bobbi Kristina, born in 1993.

After two spells in rehab, her last album “I Look To You,” was released in 2009, and had mixed reaction. Gone were the long, high notes she was famous for. Drugs had seemingly taken their toll on her golden vocal ability, and she was now raspy and often hoarse.

Her Spring 2010 UK shows, as part of her “Nothing But Love” world tour was slated by critics and fans, many who demanded their money back when she was either incoherent and “unwell” on stage, unable to get anywhere near the notes she used to deliver as naturally as breathing.

She sold a staggering 12 million copies of her biggest hit “I Will Always Love You,” from the movie soundtrack to the Bodyguard, the smash hit film she starred in with Kevin Costner. The song written by country legend Dolly Parton, and one she could have had Elvis record, but she refused to allow him to have his name on the writing credits. A condition of “The King” recording any song back then.

Dolly with the last laugh, when Elvis’ album that track would have been included on, sold in low numbers and Whitney’s version put many, many millions of dollars into Ms Parton’s bank account, in the form of writer’s royalties. The song probably the most popular track of all-time for karaoke and singing contests.

No one will ever forget Whitney’s tear-jerking rendition of The Star Spangled Banner before the 1991 Super Bowl.

Last year she was back to her film career, with a remake of Sparkle, due out here in August. She sparked controversy when she apparently refused to buckle up her seat belt on board a Delta Airlines ‘plane, on a flight from filming for the movie. Stewards threatened to have her removed if she did not do what they asked of her. In the end, it is reported one of the air staff had to do it up for her before the ‘plane took off.

Music mogul Simon Cowell has revealed Whitney was “being considered” for the next series of X-Factor and he described her as "one of the greatest singers of all time". He wrote on Twitter: "I am so sad to hear about Whitney. We have lost one of the greatest singers of all time."

UK record producer Pete Waterman told BBC News, he had spoken with Clive Davis some years back, to produce a record with Whitney, as she had been a fan of the Stock, Aitken and Waterman hits. She had spoken to Pete at a Rick Astley show in LA. But he said they could not agree commercial terms, so the project did not happen. Pete paid tribute to Whitney, as “unique.” He said: “She was in a category of her own. There is nobody today who can sing like she did. She changed RnB….”

Just hours after being told that his ex wife was dead, Bobby Brown took to the stage in Mississippi to perform with his band New Edition. He broke down several times, and eventually left the stage mid-song in tears. He called out Whitney’s name and said: “I love you’.
Following a tearful breakdown backstage, he decided to go ahead with the show. He was unable to sing some of the songs as he sobbed into the microphone, and the audience helped him with the words.

He shouted tributes to his ex-wife and blew kisses into the air. He cried, “I would like to say, ‘I love you, Whitney.’ He told the crowd: “The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage.” As he struggled to sing a ballad, Bobby left the stage before the song had ended, with the show finishing shortly afterwards.

Bobby’s family said the singer is “beyond devastated” at the news. “He wanted to tell the family about it before it hit the news. He didn't want any of us to hear about it on television.
“He could hardly get the words out when he called me. He was sobbing, and by the end of the call, I was sobbing too. He's beside himself right now.”

In her very last interview, in November last year with Access Hollywood, talking about her new film “Sparkle,” Whitney spoke of her family praying for her. She said: "I've been in the industry for 30 years. There'll be ups and there'll be the downs. But you believe in your faith and your determination. People who encourage you to do and be the best you can.”

"It is a blessing that I have a mother who is very strong and a family that surround me and constantly tell me that they love me. And my daughter is my greatest inspiration. She loves me.”

"I've got some good saints out there that pray for me constantly. You got to have that support. It's a major strength."

Blues and Soul editor Lee Tyler said: “Sad, sad news but not totally surprising, when we consider her past few years of problems. Whitney Houston’s voice and her songs will live on for ever, no matter how she chose to live her life in the end.”

“I am quite sure she will continue to influence decades of new singers. She was an incredible talent, a troubled icon. But in the end; it is all about her music. That is what she should be remembered for.”

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