Sadly, and unfortunately not so surprisingly, Whitney Houston passed away today. We have lost one of the greatest and most beautiful voices of all time. She was 48. According to The Associated Press, Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel.
This happens on the eve of music’s biggest night — the Grammy Awards. Her death will probably cast a dark shadow over the event tomorrow. Her longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner today, and a representative of the show said it would proceed. Houston was supposed to appear at the gala, and Davis had told The Associated Press that she would perhaps perform: “It’s her favorite night of the year … (so) who knows by the end of the evening,” he said.
Whitney was part of music royalty. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin. She burst on to the scene in 1985 with her debut self-titled album. Her lead single, “You Give Good Love” peaked at #3 on the Billboard chart, and #1 on the Hot R&B chart. Not a bad start. Then her follow-up single, “Saving All My Love” would be her first #1 single in both the U.S. and U.K. It would be the first of many #1 hits. The final single, “Greatest Love of All,” became Houston’s biggest hit at the time after peaking No. 1 and remaining there for three weeks on the Hot 100 chart, which made her debut the first album by a female artist to yield three No. 1 hits. Houston was No. 1 artist of the year and Whitney Houston was the No. 1 album of the year on 1986 Billboard year-end charts, making her the first female artist to earn that distinction.
She did not slow down. Her follow-up album, Whitney, continued her record run. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” all peaked at number one on the US Hot 100 chart, which gave her a total of seven consecutive number one hits, breaking the record of six previously shared by The Beatles and The Bee Gees.
She hit another high point in 1991 when she gave one of the greatest performances of the Star Spangled Banner before Super Bowl XXV, while America was in the midst of Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Whitney then became involved with acting as she starred in 1992’s The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner. The movie was a huge hit, grossing more than $121 million in the U.S. and $410 million worldwide. Houston executive produced and contributed six songs for the movie’s soundtrack. One of the songs became her signature song – “I Will Always Love You”.
Just before the movie was released, fatefully, she married New Edition bad-boy Bobby Brown. She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with “Waiting to Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, “My Love Is Your Love,” in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.”
But in the meantime, Whitney’s life was starting to spiral out of control. She and Bobby Brown were into drugs pretty heavily, and had a rocky relationship.
She was constantly having meltdowns, and she was looking scary thin. Her decline continued and became more apparent on the relaity show, “Being Bobby Brown.” And she did not make herself look good on the infamous Diane Sawyer “Crack is Wack” interview.
Whitney and Bobby finally divorced in 2007. After that everybody was anxiously awaiting a huge Whitney Houston comeback. We almost had one with the 2009 album “I Look To You.” The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum. However, when she was performing to promote the album, her voice was not even close to her formaer greatness. She sounded ragged and off-key.
Sadly, we will never see Whitney recover.
Here is my earliest memory of Whitney Houston – Her acting debut on Silver Spoons in 1985:
Here is the full episode on YouTube: