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Revisiting Whitney Houston’s devastating last weekend on the legendary singer’s 59th birthday

Whitney Houston, the iconic singer, would have been 59 on August 9, 2022. Houston, who was born on August 9, 1963, died on February 11, 2012, after an accidental drowning and probable drug usage.

Houston came two days before her murder for preparations for her mentor, Clive Davis’ customary pre-Grammy gala, a sumptuous night of music and meeting people. The star-studded event, which was held a day before the Grammys and is always one of the most sought-after attractions of the Grammy weekend, was held at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles, where the Run To You singer was also staying.

Despite her smiles and good spirits, observers were worried by her disheveled look, which included soaking wet hair in curlers and mismatched clothing.  Houston was seen doing handstands near the hotel pool and leaping around a ballroom.

While rehearsing the band for their performance, Houston’s music director, Rickey Minor, noticed something unique about Houston.

Minor explained that she walks into practice and they haven’t even begun, and it’s 10:30 a.m.  Like, she doesn’t get up till 3 a.m.  She is not an early riser. She enjoys her sleep and is a night owl, so she never sees her around 10:30. And she was soaked, almost leaking. ‘Where are you coming from?’ he asked. She replied that she has  been swimming. She is regaining her lungs and is  working on getting back in shape.

Houston professed to be sobering up after years of drug abuse and smoking, but she may have just been attempting to keep the reality from Minor and herself. Houston was discovered dead in her hotel room’s bathtub two days later, just hours before the party was scheduled to start. Her death was accidental drowning, although long-term cocaine usage and heart problems were factors.

She was planning a huge comeback after the conclusion of her film Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 musical drama. However, this did not occur, and the film was released a few months after her death.

Gerrick Kennedy, author of the book Haven’t We Almost Had It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston, observed her as joyful and “having a good time at the moment” during a visit to Houston two days before her death at the Beverly Hilton. When he witnessed Houston interrupting an interview, he said, of course, they now know she was not [sober].

Houston’s unexpected performance of Jesus Loves Me at Kelly Price’s pre-Grammy party at Tru Hollywood nightclub that night was the last and final occasion she ever sung in public.

The next day, images of Houston leaving Tru surfaced, in which she seemed untidy. Houston attempted to contact Minor, but she did not leave a note for him and did not respond when he returned her call. He never talked to her again, Minor said.

Minor, who had known Houston since 1982 and had worked with him, learnt of Houston’s death through the Beverly Hilton’s security head. Minor was the sole occupant of the whole floor. His brain was spinning, he recounted. Of course, he couldn’t tell anyone. It felt like an out-of-body experience to him, like some kind of bad dream.

The terrible loss of the pop queen with the finest voice of all rocked that Grammy weekend, transforming it into a collective mourning by the music industry, which had assembled to celebrate its biggest night of the year. Despite the odd event, the Grammys were held the next day after Houston’s death.

“Your almost natural inclination right at the beginning was to toss away the [previously planned] show and make the show a memorial to Whitney Houston,” said Ken Ehrlich, a long-time Grammy producer. “But it wouldn’t have been the correct thing to do,” he continued. So it was a balancing act between respecting her legacy and putting on a proper Grammy presentation.”

LL Cool J, who was hosting the Grammys for the first time that year, paid tribute to Houston’s memory with a poignant prayer that started the show.

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