tv CNN Newsroom CNN February 11, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
♪ the breaking news that is that whitney houston, singer, entertainer extrordinaire, dead at the age of 48, found in a hotel room in beverly hills at 3:55 this afternoon pacific time at the beverly hilton hotel. when paramedics got there, they said she was unresponsive and never got her to come back. never revived her. she was supposed to be attending
a grammy party for legendary producer clive davis. this is the beverly hilton hotel. piers morgan is helping us out as well. as well as our folks who were there at the beverly hilton tonight. before we go to piers, i want to go to drew pinsky helping us as well. dr. drew, we want to pay tribute to whitney and remember the good things about her and the extraordinary voice and talent that she did possess. we would be remiss if we didn't talk about the possibilities, just the possibilities of what might have happened and some of the issues that whitney dealt with in her life. doctor drew?
we lost dr. drew. piers morgan is standing by. i thought it was interesting when you spoke with simon cowell and i got to jump in and he mentioned the same thing that we should be honoring whitney houston. go ahead. >> i think there is a fine line when these tragic events happen. when you have somebody who had such a well-documented history of problems and terrible issues to do with substance abuse and brutal marriage and so on, there is a temptation to dwello that. this is the night that a remarkable talent has been taken from us and it is important to focus on that talent and her as a human being and the impact she had on the world. we know what's going to happen in the next few days and weeks. every tiny part of her life will be raked over and cnn like everybody else will report on
that as it's appropriate. when you hear whitney houston singing in these clips, it's hard for me to think of anyone in my lifetime, i'm 46 years old, who had a better voice than whitney houston and that voice is gone. she is fread years old and desperately young age to lose someone of this talent. >> when i finished doing the other show, as soon as i got down, i said go back up. you are getting tragic news that whitney houston may have died. we are the same age. i will be 46 in a month. this was the sound track to my youth, at least my college years. stand by. i want to go to the president of the grammies in los angeles. please feel free to jump in any time. you knew whitney 25 years you were friends and you were out there? are you at the party?
mc light? we don't have her? when they get her -- >> i think it's fairly chaotic down there. i know we are trying to get ahold of clive davis. he is extremely distressed. this event will be a memorial to whitney. he was sitting in the studio talking about whitney as one of the greatest stars of them all without an indication of what was going to be happening today. lord only knows what that man is going through. he could never have contemplated. we have a tape of tony bennett who is at that event. this is what he had to say. >> to have this happen, this is so tragic.
it's terrible. she had a god-given gift and a magnificent singer and great artist. >> they want to hear the impact on it. >> it's all personal, but i just to me was one of the greatest singers i ever heard. to have this happen was tragic. >> you had the best-kept vocalists. >> she was one of the greatest singers i ever heard. >> you feel like you had the opportunity to work with her in the past? >> one of the regrets i had. i wanted to sing with her. >> we won't be able to do that. >> i understand. >> can you give us a preview of your performance? >> i am nominated for three grammys. let's see what happens. >> thank you very much.
>> it's tony bennett at the bfrl hills where whitney houston's body was found. she was there to attend that very event. sold humans of millions of records. tony bennett recently was interview and talked about amy winehouse who he saying with was another of the greatest singers he had ever seen. both have died within the last year. incredibly sachltd joined by a great record industry. a desperately sad evening for everyone in music. are you there? >> good evening, piers. >> obviously a desperately sad evening. you knew whitney well. what are your feelings?
>> so heart breaking and we are filled with sadness. she was one of the greatest treasures to the world of not only music, but everyone around her and the family and it's just a tremendous tragedy for all of us. >> the young girl who had this extra special voice. she was what i considered the gold standard. really broke all barriers. set the goal for everyone to achieve. is it right to talk about this as a massive shock or were people in the industry fearing the worst after all the stories that we read about whitney over
the last few years. what is the sense amongst people that it was a horrible inevitability to this? >> one can never say what happens behind closed doors and the pressures of this industry over the last couple of years with michael and amy winehouse and the great artists of our time. one never knows what happens to people's personal lives and the media and the pressures affect someone. i remember when whitney was a teenager and clive davis invited me to see her before he had made records with her and listening to that golden voice. one day in my office at sony when someone had brought me i will always love you before it was released. i nearly fell out of my chair.
by far this could be one of the greatest records of all time. it's a sin and a tragedy such a beautiful treasure to be lost like that. >> tell me where you think she will rank as a pure talent as a singer. >> once again, i had an incredible opportunity to work with barbara streisand and celine deion and mariah. whitney broke all barriers more than any of the other singers and it did have an incredible style with the vocals unlike any other singer. we all lived up to whitney no matter who it was. >> you have been in the business
a very, very long time and worked with some of the greatest stars of the decades. simon cowell touched on this and lionel richie. it got harder and harder to be a superstar in the music business because of the ferocious attention from the media and the internet and so on. do you feel that? do you sense it's becoming ever more pressurized with the environment to stay at the top? >> it's ever more pressurized, the thought of having a body of work that is compelling this somebody wants versus one song that somebody wants to download with the music competition and it's different than when whitney arrived on the scene. now with all of the media and
the internet and twitter and all of the television exposure and the pressure is outrageously enormo enormous. then be able to survive everything that will come at you. >> you knew whitney well. what kind of woman was she? most people earning you the caricature of the newspapers and the magazines and so on. what was she like. >> the whitney i remember was this absolutely stunningly beautiful young girl with this golden voice. smiling, laughing all the time. a church girl who came out of the choir singing with her mother, cissy, and emulating and looking up to the greats like aretha who was her godmother and
her cousin, dionne warwick. she was a happy go lucky soul. that's the whitney that i knew. then of course there was a lot of personal tragedy that she was going through the last few years that i am sure created so much stress for her. how important is it when you are somebody of this stature and fame that can protect you from the problems and issues that arise and come with that status? >> it's critical. because there always tremendous amount of people who are quick to say yes in anybody's career. it's a critical thing for someone to look you in the eye and tell you what's right and wrong. don't forget she was not a child
and she could make her own decisions. certainly she had clive as her guardian angel, her career and he looked over her and couldn't be with her 24 hours a day. going through everything that happens in the media and in her personal life i'm sure took its toll on her. it's so sad to actually be looking at this tonight and it's unbelievable for me. it's not real. >> the timing of the grammys tomorrow night is say huge clive davis event. what would you think the mood will be. shock and saddened, but what do you think? >> i'm sure she was there to be with clive and share the joy with clive, but hopefully tomorrow night there will be a big tribute for her.
>> very, very sad night. thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate it on this desperately tragic night for the music business and the world. the death of whitney houston. don? >> it's unbelievable and you are going to speak to him as soon as clive davis calls in. >> it is chaotic and clive davis had to make decisions about whether to go ahead with the event. you may make a statement and i'm not sure clive doesn't know what to do. it would be appropriate. this was the greatest star he created. no doubt about that. on the day of his event. his heart goes out and if we can, he is immersed in i'm sure what will be an extremely sad
and moving occasion. >> for anyone knows the man you are talking with, he knows how it is to find someone and know someone with that extraordinary talent and help shepherd them into the music business. you are right. it's chaotic and they are trying to speak to him and had trouble getting them. piers is going to stand by. i want to update you because i know the viewers are watching. i'm don lemon and you are looking at piers morgan and i am in atlanta. one of the greatest voices of our generation, dead at the age of 48. a legendary singer and legendary talent. ♪
♪ >> gives you chills, doesn't it? her talent, amazing talent. she had turmoil in her personal life. more than 170 million albums and singles sold. seven straight billboard number one hits in the 1980s. i almost hate coming in and interrupting that beautiful sound. saving all my love for you. the greatest love of all. where do broken hearts go. on and on and on. whitney houston was pronounced dead at the beverly hilton hotel. that party going on now. you are looking at live pictures of the beverly hilton hotel where the party is being held. that's at the beverly hilton
where the party is being held on the fourth floor. at the time police do not know the cause of death. houston's career soared in the 1980s and 90s and a marriage to bobby brown. much publicized struggle with drugs and alcohol made her image suffer. so many people rooted for her and we loved whitney and wanted her to come back and be the legend. she died as a legend. we hoped she would pull her life together. let's go back to the point where she was. one of the world's greatest singers, no doubt. that's what's going on now in california. that's not the beverly hilton. that's the nokia theater. piers morgan, jump in. i know you want to talk to him. smokey robinson joining us. smokey, i read your reaction and your statement.
the world has lost a treasure here. >> absolutely. no question about it. i am shocked. i had so many of these shocks lately, it's been incredible. we lost don cornelius and now this is happening. i can't tell you how shocked i am about this. it's the last thing i expected to hear today. >> the last time i talked to you it was michael jackson. i asked you what would you sing, you said never can say goodbye. one of his hits. whitney houston, i will always love you. that's what we all would sing to her. she is an amazing talent. >> absolutely. whitney was like family to me. i have known her family and her forever.
people are just -- it's rough. i know she is going to be remembered well. i hope that people think of the positive things about her and not too much is played upon about her problems. everybody has problems. she seemed that she was coming out of them and it was a tragic thing to lose her this way. i know she was looking so forward to being at clive's party this evening. that was why she was at the beverly hilton hotel in the first place. >> have you speaked to her mother, cissy? >> i reached out to her, but of course getting to her is practically impossible today. everybody is trying to get to her. i haven't been able to speak to her as yet. in the next day or so, i'm sure i will speak with her. and get a chance to give her my
love and give her my hugs. that's what she needs. >> it's piers morgan in los angeles. we are getting extraordinary tribts being paid to whitney. what do you think she would wish her leagacy to be? >> knowing whit, she would wish it to be -- whit was one of the greatest singers to open her mouth to sing. i know whit would want the world to remember her that way. i know she would want people to remember her profound talent. to think of her in a positive light. she was a sweetie pie. she was a nice person. i know that she would want to be remembered that way. like i said, rather than being remembered for her problems,
which -- i have to say through media coverage when it was going on, people may keep that in mind about her. i hope that they remember her talent and the positiveness before they think of that part of her life. >> smokey, you touched on earlier the fact that whitney had this amazing talent and she had all the problems and she was actually beginning to come through them and recover for want of a better phrase. that makes this particularly sad. did you feel she was on the verge of a proper come back? >> piers, the last time i saw her, i did. we were both at a rehearsal studio in los angeles. i saw her and we laugh and
talked and she was in a great place. she was on the road to recovery and to coming back and enjoying her life again. i'm so saddened by this. we had a great conversation. i felt so good about seeing her that way. >> smokey, what did you think it was the biggest misconception about whitney houston. what did you think was the thing people didn't get about her? >> i don't know what the biggest misconception was. we live in a world where the negative is always portrayed. we live in a world where the negative gets the attention. the negative is the squeak in the wheel that gets oiled all the time. i think that we hear so much negativity all the time about
everything and everybody until we are geared up to hear the negative. when that happens like that, i wish there were spaces in every city and every town in the world that could give nothing but good news, but i think that that happens to a person in the public eye, a person in the entertainment world, you live under a microscope anyway, the average person who is not an entertainer who has an average job who is a person who goes about life and the jobs that are not in the public eye. you can do the same thing as the person in the entertainment world does. the person in the entertainment world is blown way out of
proportion. it's an unnatural thing that nobody in life has done and nobody does except for people in the entertainment world. it's hard. especially when you go through a period of your life where as there is negativity involved. it's talked about and put out there so much on a constant basis. people forget that you are a human being. that you are going to have your ups and downs and ins and outs. it's just publicized so much. it's magnified. i think this would happen with whit. when she was going through here problems in her life, they were magnified so much. i was listening and lionel was talking about the same thing.
it's hard to grow up on stage and pretend it never happened and nobody knows. it's hard to do that. it's hard to be in the position where as you are out front and every day all day long people are seeing and hearing about you. something negative goes on and it's magnify and you have to go back and face the public. >> smokey? i think you hit the nail on the head there. they are the same issues like amy winehouse and michael jackson are not as famous. they are not speculated. thank you so much for taking the time to call in. >> piers, before we let smokey go, can i ask you something? >> for being positive, you want to focus on the positive and you are exactly right with that.
what will you always love about whitney houston? >> whitney was family and i will always love whitney about whitney. whitney was family to me and i will always love her. she is one of the greatest voices in the history of music. that's what i say. >> thank you, smokey. >> thank you for letting me jump in. we will go to break with a scene from the preacher's wife. ♪
whitney houston dead at 48. found in a hotel room at 3:55 p.m. pacific time. they were not able to revive her. in los angeles, california, the reaction is coming in as well. live from the staples center with reaction. what are you hearing, paul? >> i'm right here at staples and los angeles shuts down the area when it comes to the grammys. these people work in the area and can characterize for us what it was like when they heard the
news. what did you hear? >> we heard a message that came to us have a text. did you hear whitney houston died. we heard a gasp throughout the hotel and everybody stopped to look at the television shows that said whitney houston had it actually passed. >> you work here and you are a huge whitney houston fan. what did she mean to you? >> the 80s. if anyone knows anything about her gospel music, the preacher's wife, she is inspirational. i got through a lot of nights behind her gospel music. >> i appreciate you taking time out. we are going to talk to the producer. we will come back and talk to ken. >> and down in los angeles on the streets at staples center
getting reaction now. as we look at the live pictures of piers, there they are from the streets at the beverly hilton hotel where whitney houston was found earlier today. it's still almost four hours now and i'm in shock that this happened. we lost this woman. these festivities still going on. you spoke with clive davis yesterday. >> it's hard to imagine what will be going through his mind. he is one of the greatest industries. he created some of the biggest stars we have ever heard. whitney was the biggest. with jennifer hudson and he compared and he was touched by the comparison. when she was young she used to mimic doing duets at 7 or 8.
whitney was her heroin. it was the pregrammy party and i can imagine the party being sad and shocked. the l.a. chapter president of the grammys, thank you very much for joining me. >> thank you. >> obviously a desperately sad evening. i can only imagine how everyone is feeling. the grammys tomorrow, this is a horrible coincidence of one of the great grammy winners. it would have been at the party with a mental clive davis. how is everyone reacting to the horrible news? >> it is not good. it's not good. it's shocking at this point. i talked with several people at
this point. kelly price as well as missy elliott who both worked with whitney and were very good friends and we just all are going to miss her so much and my heart goes out to her daughter and her family and her mom. countless people whose lives are deeply affected by this. i hope that we are able to recover. i'm speechless. . >> obviously whitney went through a lot of problems in her life in the latter years. everybody knows that. it's not appropriate to rake over the details tonight. >> absolutely not. >> it's much more appropriate to focus on the sublime talent and the people of the caliber of smokey robinson and lionel richie said was one of the
greatest singers of all time. how inspirational do you think she has been to the jennifer hudson generation. i imagine there thousands if not millions of young women who felt inspired by whitney houston. >> absolutely. the world over. boys and girls. men and women. artists and those who those who were inspired by her and her music. her unsur mountable talent. i remember the first album when it came and you give good love. thinking about you. whenever i hear those songs and i play them often, it takes me back to a place where everything is care-free. the age of innocence. i think she is the sound track
for most of our lives. . >> yeah. absolutely right. tomorrow night is very different event. the grammys will go ahead, but are you making any last minute changes? you can tell me any plans you may have at the early stage to commemorate the life of whitney houston? >> unfortunately i can't divulge any of that information. of course the academy looks to recognize anyone who has done anything within the music community that moves on to the next level. of course they are going to be missed and also recognized on the show. they talk about this on new anothers new about alicia keys and bonnie rait to recognize eta
james. we will have to make appropriate moves, absolutely. >> i spent a terrible time with whitney houston and etta james and michael jackson. a series of huge blows and major talents all dying. terrible to keep reporting on these events. i wish you all the best with the event tomorrow night. it will be a hugely moving event. >> thank you so much and i send love to the houston family. thank you. >> yeah. we all do. we will go to a commercial break. more breaking news of whitney houston's death after this.
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you are listening to whitney houston and sad news to report. whitney houston died today in los angeles at 48 years old. she was preparing to go to the gramm grammys, a pregrammy party she was supposed to be at the same hotel where the grammy party was being held. her body was found at 3:43 this afternoon and pronounced dead at 3:55. that's according to beverly hills police. that's at the beverly hilton hotel. we are looking at live pictures at the hotel this evening. still being held. we are waiting to possibly hear from clive davis this evening. clive davis was the person who discovered whitney houston. piers morgan is standing by in
los angeles. as well as paul down on the street at the staples center getting reaction to the tragic news. paul? >> don, you and i were here a while ago. >> quite an ironic thing. what do you do with the grammy show. >> as you know, we had a long-term association with whitney. whitney was a multigrammy winner and appeared on the show a number of times and personally we had done a number of shows with her. very saddened and we don't top the rush to anything that wouldn't be respectful. our plan at this point is we asked jennifer hudson to come and really at this moment, we will talk about what she is going to do and it will be something respectful.
it won't be a full-blown tribute. it feels like it's too early and fresh at this moment. we are working on something that will be respectful and appropriate to whitney's memory. >> can you discuss where you plan to do this and if anything else will occur. >> we have gone through the script and we made a few changes to make sure the tone is right. it celebrates music and our show is known not only over the last year, but the years of american popular music. there shifts that we wanted to make script-wise that make it more appropriate. it will be still a great music show. we felt that i think knowing whitney as i did, she would have
wanted the great performer and knew the experience of thrilling an audience. that's what we plan to do. >> thank you so much for taking the time out. the executive producer of the grammys and the old adage, the show must go on. the foo fighters are rehearsing for tomorrow night's show and they will perform and jennifer hudson doing a special tribute to whitney houston. >> thank you very much. reporting outside the staples center. piers morgan is in los angeles tonight. it's amazing. it's the grammys tomorrow night and a tribute to whitney houston. it feels like a minute ago but we have been on the air for more than four hours. we still don't know the cause of death. >> no. we don't know the cause of death. the early indications are that
the police are not suspecting foul play. who knows what may have caused it. i think probably the reality is this is not as shocking to many people if whitney hadn't been through so many difficult issues in her life. desperately sad. the music industry is really, really reeling from the news. she was one of the greatest figures in the music business and possibly one of the greatest singers of all time. the fact that this happened on the eve of the grammys, i would imagine it will be all about whitney houston. there is no one who will not want to pay a tribute. jennifer hudson was in the studio last night talking about whitney as being her heroin. how she will be feeling tonight and tomorrow at the grammys, lord only knows. >> all the up and comers, as you
heard simon cowell saying, i'm sure when you heard "america's got talent," whitney houston. >> it was always the litmus test for whether a single was any good. i did six years and four of "britain's got talent." we always said the great test is could they sing a whitney houston song. these songs were the unbelievably hard ballads to sing. you try to sing i will always love you and hit the high notes and you will fail. time and again, you will see them fail at the crucial moment and the big note. if they hit it and were like a susan boyle or somebody, you knew you found somebody special. i can't think of a better way to pay tribute other than that was the test. you know what they say.
it makes you want to dance. this was one of her first hits. i remember hearing this song and seeing this video and i went oh, my gosh, who is this woman? beautiful in this video. whitney would laugh because she would say i'm not much of a dancer. she did the same move in every single video. as clive will tell you, he wasn't a good dancer, but boy could she sing. >> for doesn't matter how you dance if you can sing like that. i watched the body guard and just the way she saying and the power of the range. we have seen amazing singers. barbara streisand and many of them. mariah carrey and celine deion and hard to think of anybody with the power of wranj whitney
houston. i can't imagine a newspaper or a magazine in the world right now anywhere that is not changing headlines and front covers and a normal deadline is monday. what are you planning for this? >> it's an enormous tribute and you are right. it's an international superstar that influenced generations of singers. not a pop singer today deeply. we do have a detailed picture of whitney's last days and hours. she was a troubled person as well as a brilliant artist. what people will remember and want to focus on in magazines is the impact she had. >> no doubt on twitter, i'm seeing a lot of people want to
pay tribute. whatever issues she had, this is not the time to swell on them. it is the nature of the modern media beast and the public will read this stuff. for now, try to put in context for me. how big of a star whitney houston was in the musical stars. >> she was one of the top tier artists of the last century and going into this one. in popular music, there few artists who did what she did. her songs are still being listened to. she had an enormous impact. the singers we are listening to now from adele to anybody you could mention. they said the same thing really
about the massively increased pressure on performers. particularly the ones who are not quite at the level they once were. lionel richie and simon cowell saying the nature of the modern media is so relentless with the news coverage and the plethora of magazines. the internet that didn't exist 20 years ago. you put all this together. anybody who has a paparazzi. she was the greatest singer in the world and began to lose some of the power through personal problems and tried to come back. >> if you think about it, early on she was a victim to this kind of news cycle and reality television. for the first part of her career and well into her career, she had an immaculate image and considered a good girl in
popular music. through the 2000s with the reality show, we were exposed to a side of her that most people had never seen. that had a devastating impact i'm sure. that is a reality that popular artist his that they didn't in the 60s and 70s and 80s. >> i imagine it will be one of the biggest selling issues of people in a long time. i'm judging from the reaction i'm getting this is having the same impact as michael jackson's death all over the world. >> for many it's the sound track of their lives. she was a huge star in the 80s and 90s and people grew up with her up they look at their life and hear her music. absolutely. >> thank you very much. >> thanks so much. >> we will go to a commercial break and much more on the breaking news of the tragic death of whitney houston at age 48.
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>> hard to believe that voice has been silenced. at least her personal voice, but we will always have her voice on recording. whitney houston dead at the age of 48. it's hard to believe i am reporting this. found in a hotel in beverly hills, california. that song went to number and sat there forever. forever. one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. when you heard the recording of this song, the initial recording when clive davis brought it to me, this was one of the best recordings, they knew it was going to be a hit. it was performed by dolly parton. she did a remake for the body
guard when it became number 1 and stayed there. another brilliant performance. it was never sung like that before. that national anthem song played on the radio and topped the charts as well. jane velez mitchell. i can't believe i am saying had in past tense. what are you seeing there? >> this is such a sad and surreal feeling. fans have gathered and fans are gathering to pay tribute. they are lighting candles to pay tribute to whitney houston. some just fans and loving her songs and many talking about the national anthem. it's surreal because while we are gathered here and all
somber, a stone's throw away having this huge party. we can hear the music. that party, a lot of people wonder how that party with go on. you summed it up when you said the show must go on. that is the ethos of hollywood in the greater sense. the show must go on. they did demos. a nominations party was going on when it spring emmed through the hoom when they got it on the blackberries and the iphone. this is what whitney would have wanted. me about that. >> this was one of her nights with her mentor with clive davis
and everyone being at the party. now they have to turn it around to pay homage to her. it's sad, but you have to go on. you have to go on. the slclive davis show going on and we can hear the music so it's surreal that that is happening. at the service entrance of this hotel, there paparazzi and a police investigation car as well. i want to thank you both for speaking. >> right next to the beverly hilton where whitney houston sadly died earlier today. we want to go to katherine in atlanta and getting reactions from fans here in atlanta. go ahead. what are you seeing katherine? >> we are right here off of
peach tree street where there a number of clubs and i had two fans here with me. they have been waiting in the weather to get into the club so they could share their thoughts. what were your thoughts? >> couldn't believe it. i thought it was a joke when i saw it on facebook and i looked on google and it was true. >> you have been listening to her music forever a long time. >> i hoped it wasn't true. >> i like the body guard and the preacher's wife. those were my two favorite movies. it's sad that she's gone. >> you hope they play tribute it her in the clubs? >> i want them to play and i will always love you so i can sing along off key. that's my favorite song to sing. >> thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us today and have fun out there
tonight. everyone has whitney houston on their minds and they are hoping to hear her music in the clubs. a lot of people are still in shock. >> a lot of people are. most are still in shock. thank you very much. i appreciate that. we couldn't believe it. we have been hearing about it for a while that she died for a few minutes and we were waiting on confirmation from her people and even when the words came out of my mouth when i uttered them on the air here, i am having a hard time now. 48 years old. go ahead. are you there? >> i was thinking about listening to you guys talking about your favorite music, favorite songs and things that she had accomplished in her career. do you remember when she saying the national anthem at the super bowl. >> it was amazing. she made it a hit.