Whitney Houston's Sudden Death Prompts Rabid Speculation

By Will Godfrey 02/12/12

The star, who fought a long public battle with addiction, died in a Beverley Hills hotel room yesterday, aged 48.

Whitney Houston strongly influenced
the singers that came after her.
Photo via

Fans around the world have reacted with shock to the sudden death of iconic ballad-singer Whitney Houston, who was found in a hotel room in Beverley Hills yesterday. Huge, influential hits like "I Will Always Love You" and "Saving All My Love For You" cemented her position as one of music's A-listers, but in the last two decades of her life her substance abuse problems and her rocky 15-year marriage to singer Bobby Brown featured just as heavily. Her addictions reportedly encompassed substances including alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and crack, and she entered a rehab program for the third time in May last year. RadarOnline states that police removed "a plethora of sedatives including Lorazepam, Valium, Xanax, and a sleeping medication" from the star's room at the Beverley Hilton hotel, while TMZ reports that her body was found submerged in the bathtub by her hairdresser. She was confirmed dead at 3:55 pm. An autopsy is likely to be held in the next two days, but toxicology reports could take six to eight weeks to be completed, if it's confirmed that drugs or alcohol were involved.

Since the news of Houston's death, fans have flocked to buy her records, pushing her albums into four of the top five spots on the Amazon chart and the single "I Will Always Love You" to number three on the iTunes chart—closely followed by many of her other hits. Tributes from famous figures in the music world have predictably flowed in too. Mariah Carey said she was "heartbroken and in tears." Rihanna tweeted "No words! Just Tears," as well as a succession of lyrics from Houston's songs. And ex-husband Bobby Brown pointed to the sky on stage in Mississippi last night and said, "I love you Whitney." 

Whitney Houston's final performance came just days ago, at Kelly Price's pre-Grammy party in Hollywood [below]. A tribute to her is planned at the Grammy awards ceremony tonight, when Jennifer Hudson is expected to sing. Many more will follow.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of Substance.com, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.