More news continues to trickle out about the circumstances surrounding Whitney Houston’s death. TMZ now reports that the pop star was actually found underwater in her bath, and that those in her room—including a stylist, hairdresser and two bodyguards—began to worry when over an hour passed with Whitney in the bathroom, and she failed to respond to knocking on the door. She was found by a screaming assistant, and a bodyguard attempted CPR, but to no avail, and she was pronounced dead at 3:55 PST. (TMZ also got word that Whitney would regularly take Xanax to calm her nerves before shows, pointing out that the combination of Xanax and alcohol could have caused the sedation that would make Whitney fall asleep in her bathtub, though such theorizing is still speculation at this point.)
Meanwhile, nothing puts a wrench into a Grammy telecast like an unexpected pop star death, and Whitney Houston was such a titan of the industry that even with only 24 hours’ notice, there was still no way that they could proceed as scheduled tonight without putting on some kind of tribute. Indeed, Billboard now reports that Jennifer Hudson, perhaps the diva-on-call for the Grammys these days, will be leading a “respectful” tribute to the R&B and pop legend. “It’s not going to be a full-blown tribute,” says show producer Ken Ehrlich. “That’s too early and it’s too fresh at this moment. It’s going to be something respectful to Whitney’s memory. (Chaka Khan, whose “I’m Every Woman” a young Whitney sang backup on and an adult Whitney covered for The Bodyguard, is now also said to be involved.)
Meanwhile, many of those who were close with Whitney during her life have already paid tribute to her, including professional mentor Clive Davis and ex-husband Bobby Brown, both of whom were in the middle of live events when the news of Whitney’s passing started to circulate. Davis, hosting the Pre-Grammy party that Whitney was supposed to have attended at the Beverly Hilton, told attendees “I don’t have to mask my emotion in front of a room full of so many dear friends. I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life.” However, Davis insisted that his party continue, despite the tragic news. “She loved music and she loved this night that celebrates music,” said Davis. “Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on.”
Around the same time, Bobby Brown took the stag with the rest of reunited ’80s boy band New Edition for a gig in Mississippi, just hours after news of her death had broken. The singer was said to be in the midst of “crying fits” before the show, and is reported to have broken down on stage shortly after the performance started. ““First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all,” Entertainment Weekly reports that Brown told the audience. “Second, I would like to say, ‘I love you Whitney.’ The hardest thing for me to do is come on this stage.” (TMZ also received an official statement from the New Edition group, saying “We are absolutely shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely death of our dear sister Whitney. As a group, we are extremely close; when one of us hurts, we all hurt.”)
Perhaps the strangest tribute Whitney received came courtesy of legendary singer Tony Bennett at Davis’ Arista benefit, at which he was the first performer. “First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston,” Bennett told the crowd. ” I want every gentleman and lady in this room to lend themselves to get our government to legalize drugs…so they have to get it through a doctor and not through some gangster who’s just selling it under the table. Let’s legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam. And it’s a very sane city now.” Bennett’s idea was met with scattered applause and some understandably shocked reactions. (You can read the entirety of Bennett’s speech, as well as other tributes from Alicia Keys, Diddy and Jessie J, over at HollywoodLife, while we have video of Bennett’s speech below courtesy of USA Today.)
Finally, of course there was no shortage of fellow pop stars who took the opportunity to pay homage to one of the greats of our time. Some of the more notable celeb Tweet tributes:
Jesus Christ, not Whitney Houston. Greatest of all time.
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) February 12, 2012
Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston.
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) February 12, 2012
She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth.
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) February 12, 2012
man. 4:40am & this whitney shit is still f**king w/ me. dunno why….i mean MJ was my idol & i cried but i wasn’t depressed. THIS however…
— Questo of The Roots (@questlove) February 12, 2012
No words! Just tears #DearWhitney
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 12, 2012
So devastating. We will always love you Whitney, R.I.P.
— Katy Perry (@katyperry) February 12, 2012