Before Saturday’s memorial, we take a look back at a week’s worth of news following the untimely passing of a pop icon.
By John Mitchell
Music fans around the world were shocked when reports of Whitney Houston‘s unexpected death were confirmed last Saturday. The singer had been staying at the Beverly Hilton Hotel as she prepared for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party and was seen out on the town in the days before her passing.
While the Los Angeles County coroner’s office has not confirmed the cause of the legendary “I Will Always Love You” singer’s death, a lethal mix of prescription medication and alcohol is heavily rumored to be the culprit.
The week since Houston’s passing has been a hectic one, as officials scramble to find out what killed the singer and whether negligence on the part of medical professionals treating her is at least partially to blame. Meanwhile, Houston’s family, friends, fans and music-industry peers continue to mourn the star, who will be laid to rest Saturday (February 18) in her native Newark, New Jersey. Flags across the state will be flown at half-staff this weekend out of respect for Houston.
With so much information pouring in since Houston’s death, it’s been difficult to discern what is fact, speculation and pure rumor. So as the world prepares for her memorial service, we have pulled together what we know so far about Houston’s passing, the impact it’s had on the entertainment industry, the reaction of her fans, family and friends, and her legacy.
Houston’s Untimely Death
Twitter first ignited with rumors of Houston’s death last Saturday after emergency medical professionals were called to the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The sad rumor was confirmed to MTV News by Houston’s rep, Kristen Foster, with Beverly Hills Police Lieutenant Mark Rosen telling on-scene reporters, “Someone in her entourage found her unresponsive in her room. … Our detectives are still in the room, and her body is still here as well. I can confirm that Whitney Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. this afternoon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. We received a call at 3:43 p.m. from hotel security and Beverly Hills Fire, and police responded minutes later.”
Houston was found in the bathtub of her hotel suite by a member of her personal staff. Paramedics initiated CPR on the “I Will Always Love You” singer but were unable to revive her. No illegal drugs were found in Houston’s suite, however, prescription medication was discovered. On Monday, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office downplayed speculation that Houston had succumbed to an accidental overdose, saying “not many prescription bottles” were found, adding that the amount of medication found did not correspond with the amounts typically present in deaths attributed to overdose. Rather, the current leading theory remains that it was combining those medications (heavily rumored to be Xanax and other mood-altering benzodiazepines) with alcohol that led to the star’s death.
Houston’s family is, of course, deeply distraught over her unexpected passing. Daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was taken by paramedics from the Beverly Hilton Hotel to Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in a state of emotional distress early Sunday. Her father and Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, flew to California to be with his daughter after breaking down himself onstage Saturday night. “First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all,” Brown told the audience at a New Edition concert in Mississippi. “Second, I would like to say, ‘I love you Whitney.’ The hardest thing for me to do is come on this stage.”
Houston’s family released a statement, saying, “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Whitney. This is an unimaginable tragedy and we will miss her terribly. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from her fans and friends.”
The reaction to Houston’s death was swift, as stars expressed their grief on Twitter, in statements through their representatives and in person to press assembled at the 54th Grammy Awards on Sunday — just one day after her passing.
The most immediate responses to her death hit Twitter early Saturday evening. Mariah Carey was among the first to issue a statement, tweeting, “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.”
Rihanna and Nicki Minaj hit the social network to express their sadness soon after. Rihanna wrote, “No words! Just tears #DearWhitney.” Unable to hide her grief, Minaj was a bit more profane, tweeting, “Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time,” along with a vintage photo of the late singer alongside Michael Jackson.
“The loss of Whitney Houston is painful. I remember meeting Whitney for the first time when I was 15. She was the ultimate legend. The ultimate woman,” BeyoncRead also...