Iconic Whitney Houston dies at 48
By Nekesa Mumbi Moody AP
February 13, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was ruined by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday. She was 48.
Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton. A Los Angeles County coroner's official said the body remained in the building late Saturday.
"There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent," Rosen said.
Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said the cause of death was unknown.
Rosen said police received an emergency call from hotel security about Houston at 3:43 p.m. Saturday. Paramedics who were already at the hotel because of a Grammy party were not able to resuscitate her, he said.
Houston's death came on the eve of music's biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and where she will be remembered Sunday in a tribute by Jennifer Hudson, organizers said.
Her longtime mentor Clive Davis went ahead with his annual concert at the same hotel where her body was found. He dedicated the evening to her and asked for a moment of silence as a photo of the singer, hands wide open, looking to the sky, appeared on the screen.
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 had said.
Houston had been at rehearsals for the show Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The person said Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.
But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once-pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.
It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.