Whitney Houston 1 Year Later [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
Its hard to believe that it has been a year since we lost Whitney Houston!
I was driving home after finishing the afternoon show, I had Matt Ryan and “Saturday Night Jersey 80s” on the radio, when he hit the “Breaking News” sounder. I went numb. So did Whitney’s home state of New Jersey…and the world!
To read my thoughts from that night, one year ago, click here.
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born in Newark on August 9, 1963.
She was a singer, actress, producer and model…cited in 2009, by Guiness Book Of World Records, as the “most awarded female act of all time.”
Whitney Houston seemed destined from birth to become a singer. Her mother Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, and godmother Aretha Franklin were all legendary figures in American gospel and soul music. Cissy Houston was the choir minister at New Hope Baptist Church, and she often brought Whitney with her on singing “gigs.”
At the age of 12, Whitney debuted with the church youth choir. She wowed them!
By the time she had turned 15, Whitney was often performing with her mother, and trying to get a record deal of her own. Simultaneously, she was discovered by a photographer, and she soon became a sought-after teenage model! Whitney was one of the first African American women to appear on the cover of “Seventeen” magazine. But music remained her focus.
Legendary record mogul Clive Davis changed Houston’s life. When she was 19, Davis saw her in a nightclub. He immediately signed her to a record deal, and and began her transformation from gospel singer to pop stardom.
In 1983, Houston made her national television debut, appearing on The Merv Griffin Show singing “Home” from “The Wiz.” She and Davis spent the next two years (and about $200,000) molding what would be Houston’s public persona, all the while working on her debut album, finding the best producers and songwriters.
In 1985, she released her debut album “Whitney Houston,” and became an overnight pop sensation. Her videos became a staple of MTV! Over the next year, her hit singles “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know” helped the album reach the top of the charts, where it stayed for fourteen (non-consecutive) weeks.
Houston won a Grammy in 1986 for “Saving All My Love for You.”
Houston followed the monumental success of her first album with “Whitney” in 1987.
That record, too, went multiple platinum, and won more Grammy Awards. A successful world tour would follow! She also founded the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, a nonprofit organization that funds projects to help needy children all over the world.
As you can see above, Whitney Houston’s singing of the Star Spangled Banner at the Superbowl in 1991 is extraordinary! I saw it live then…and played it on the radio in the days and months to follow. All these years later, its still very powerful!
By 1992, Whitney Houston could do no wrong…but her life was about to get very complicated. After a three year engagement, she married the R&B singer (and notorious “bad boy”) Bobby Brown, formerly of New Edition.
The marriage would turn sour as the 1990’s wore on, as both Brown and Houston battled substance abuse, and showed increasingly erratic behavior.
In spite of growing troubles in her personal life, Whitney Houston continued to progress in her career, moving into acting in 1992, starring opposite Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard.”
With this movie, Whitney set a trend for her films to follow, as she also released a hit single. The result: huge soundtrack sales!
Her smash single from The Bodyguard, “I Will Always Love You,” proved to be Houston’s biggest hit ever, spending a record-breaking fourteen weeks at #1 on the U.S. charts. The soundtrack album went on to win Houston three Grammys, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
Later in the 1990’s, Houston also starred in “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Waiting To Exhale.”
Both spawned hit soundtracks.
In 1998, Houston released “My Love Is Your Love,” her first non-soundtrack studio album in years.
And while it earned Whitney another Grammy, it couldn’t equal the chart performance of her previous albums.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Houston’s increasingly rocky marriage, struggles with drugs, and health problems, threatened to derail her career. Several concert cancellations and a notorious TV interview with in 2002, in which Houston appeared far too thin and in very poor health, led many to wonder if Whitney was about to suffer a breakdown.
2004 brought a new low for Whitney Houston, with the debut of the (train wreck) “reality” show “Being Bobby Brown.” Houston received a ton of airtime. None was good: The show spotlighted her crumbling marriage, drug use, profanity, lifestyle excess and overall bad behavior.
Houston tried to ignore the drama, by releasing “Just Whitney.” Once again, it did not match the success of earlier works. Her tabloid status continued to take its toll.
While Whitney tried to repair her marriage, and break her drug habit over the next few years, she would often relapse. But, by 2007, she would divorce Bobby Brown, and win sole custody of their child, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown.
After almost a decade of struggling with her personal life, Houston seemed to be pulling herself together. She released a new album, “I Look To You” in 2009.
The new album was welcomed by her fans…but her accompanying live performances met with mixed reviews, some complaining about the quality of her voice. The years of abuse had taken their toll…
While she denied it, in early 2012, Houston was rumored to be experiencing financial trouble. But, in fact, Whitney seemed to be poised for a career makeover!
Houston worked on a new musical film “Sparkle” (with Jordin Sparks).
The movie would be a remake of a 1976 movie about an all-girl musical group similar to Diana Ross & The Supremes.
Whitney had also reportedly been approached to be a judge on the “X-Factor” TV show.
Sadly, as the saying goes: “Life got in the way.” Or, a lack thereof…
Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012, in Beverly Hills. According to a report released by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office on March 22, 2012, the official cause of her death was accidental drowning. The effects of heart disease, and cocaine found in her system, were contributing factors.
I was on-the-air on New Jersey 101.5 during the funeral service…remembering Whitney, her life and her music.
This is my “tribute” photo from my facebook page, February 12, 2012.