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11:27am UK, Sunday February 12, 2012
The entertainment industry is in mourning after award-winning music legend Whitney Houston was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room on the eve of the Grammys.
The news was first announced by her publicist Kristen Foster but the cause of star’s death is currently unclear. It is not being treated as suspicious.
Lieutenant Mark Rosen from Beverly Hills Police told KABC-TV that Houston was pronounced dead in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel at 3.55pm (local time) on Saturday.
Whitney Houston at the American Music Awards in 2009
It is thought she was found by her bodyguard. Detectives said paramedics unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the singer.
“She has been positively identified by friends and family that were with her at the hotel, and next of kin have already been notified,” Lieutenant Rosen told reporters.
US entertainment news website TMZ reported that the singer’s daughter Bobbi Kristina was at the Beverly Hilton at the time and had to be held back by police from entering the hotel room.
Guests at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy gala hold a minute of silence for Whitney Houston
The scene at the Beverly Hilton was chaotic as shocked guests for a pre-Grammys gala arrived while reporters swarmed the hotel, fans gathered outside to light candles in her memory and helicopters hovered overhead.
Houston’s ex-husband Bobby Brown was due to perform in Mississippi as news spread about Houston’s death.
He broke down in tears backstage and was unable to come out before the crowd for his first song, before appearing onstage later.
He told the sell-out crowd: “First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all. Second, I would like to say, I love you Whitney. The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage.”
Later in the concert Brown appeared emotionally overcome, his voice cracking as he walked off stage. The concert ended soon afterward.
On Thursday night Houston was pictured looking dishevelled and worse-for-wear as she attended a pre-Grammy party in Hollywood.
But earlier in the evening she had received a standing ovation for performing a duet with host Kelly Price.
Houston died hours before she was expected to perform at her longtime mentor, record producer Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy party, which is held at the Beverly Hilton.
Davis decided to continue with the party and stars including Alicia Keys and Serena Williams were seen arriving at the hotel.
The Grammy Awards are the biggest event in the music industry’s calendar.
Alicia Keys comforts Clive Davis, the mogul who made Houston a star
The ceremomy is now likely to be a sombre, subdued affair that pays tribute to Houston’s huge contribution to music.
Houston had been at rehearsals for the show, coaching singers Brandy and Monica.
At her peak in the 1980s and 90s, Houston was the golden girl of the entertainment industry and one of the world’s best-selling artists.
Among her hits were How Will I Know, Saving All My Love for You and I Will Always Love You.
She also starred in movies, including most famously, The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner.
The soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy for Album of the Year. American film critic Roger Ebert tweeted that Amazon is currently streaming the film for free for Amazon Prime members.
Houston was married to Bobby Brown for 14 years but the pair divorced in 2007 following a turbulent relationship that included claims of domestic violence.
The LA coroner arrives at the Beverly Hilton
She won two Emmys, six Grammy awards and 22 American Music awards and 30 Billboard awards as her successful career spanned three decades.
But for many years Houston struggled with drug addiction and financial problems.
She admitted using marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs.
There was speculation that the singer, who was once worth an estimated £100m, may have been heading towards bankruptcy.
“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 Brown by her side.
She launched a comeback tour in 2009 and performed on the X Factor but there were concerns about her appearance and behaviour at the time.
Houston and Bobby Brown in 2003
In April 2010 she called media reports she was using drugs again “ridiculous” but in May 2011, Houston enrolled in a drug and alcohol rehab programme.
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 US alone.
Pop star Rihanna posted on Twitter: “No words, just tears.”
Mariah Carey wrote: “Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston.
“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..”