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Whitney Houston: A long, long walk to the dark

It was the climax of a traumatic week for the entertainment world following Houston’s death in a Los Angeles hotel on the eve of the…

It was the climax of a traumatic week for the entertainment world following Houston’s death in a Los Angeles hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

Celebrities gathered for a Clive Davis, party, which Houston was supposed to attend, were stunned by the news and immediately tributes started to pour in. Clive Davis had discovered Houston while she had been performing with her mother at a New York night club back in 1983.

Her funeral, attended by stars like Kevin Costner, her co-star in the highly successful 1992 Hollywood flick, The Bodyguard, among others was streamed live on the internet to millions of her fans worldwide.

Music icon and Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin performed at the event, as did her much vilified ex-husband Bobby Brown. He has  obviously been devastated by her death, breaking down on stage and walking off a live performance shortly after news of her death broke. “I love you, Whitney!” he had shouted to the audience.

The diva’s career and personal life took a down turn since her June 1992 marriage to the bad boy rapper and evidence of drug abuse by the couple soon emerged not long after. Houston suffered the most for it with several run-ins with the law and repeated attempts at rehabilitation. Her voice lost the quality that had made her a stand out act even as a child and several live performances had to be cancelled on accounts of drug-related problems.

In 2006, the marriage came to an acrimonious end and many Houston fans hoped the star would once more reach the high levels she had attained as “the most awarded female act of all time.”

After the divorce, Houston carried on with her on and off boyfriend, Ray J, Brandy’s younger brother, who was 18 years younger than Houston. He was one of the first people to have seen her corpse and was visibly devastated by her death as he had left the hotel.

“I had thought with the split from Bobby and her recent attempts to re-launch her career, things could only get better,” said Cynthia Obasi, a huge fan of the American singer.

Looking at Cynthia shaking her head mournfully, one would wonder how this singer had impacted on the lives of millions of people worldwide. She had sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos and her 1992 hit, “I Will Always Love You”, a remake of Dolly Parton’s 1974 song, topped the Billboard charts for a then record 14 weeks.

The song has since been recognised as Houston’s signature tune and was at the heart of a civil case. A British fan was so enamoured by the song she had played it at peak volume all day long, much to the displeasure of her neighbours. One of the neighbours, no longer able to withstand the monotonous nuisance, had climbed up several floors, barged into the room and hauled the offending stereo out the window. A judge had ruled that the Houston fan had been unreasonable in constituting a nuisance to the public. Such was the impact of Houston’s songs.

“It is quite unfortunate that such a talented singer had left us in such circumstances with speculations of drug abuse and all that,” said Halima Jibrin, another fan of the star, “I think it is quite sad and unfortunate that her marriage had had such a negative impact on her life and career. It’s a shame really.”

An all too common kind of death

Houston has joined a long list of celebrities that have died in a cloud of drug-related rumours. Of recent, there have been Michael Jackson and Amy Whinehouse and now Houston. The two ladies have been on a self-destructive course since their long struggles with drug abuse began.

Houston was reported to have been found in a bathtub in Beverly Hilton Hotel with her head under water. The coroner’s finding showed that Houston had died from a cocktail of Xanax, other powerful prescription drugs and alcohol, according to reports, adding that the 48 year-old singer must have died before going under water because there was too little water in her lungs to suggest that she had drowned.

Bottles of Lorazepam, Valium, Xanax and a sleeping medication were found in the hotel room, it has been claimed.

Two days before her death, she had been on a “wild binge” and had clashed with guards and the next day, hours before her death, Houston had reportedly “partied heavily, drank and chatted loudly” with friends at the hotel bar.

The drugs were believed to have acted as sedatives, causing her to fall asleep in the bathtub once they had been mixed with alcohol from the previous evenings. The last picture of Houston alive taken on Thursday, February 9th, showed the dishevelled star having a run-in with guards.

Since her death, her 18 year-old daughter Bobby Kristina had been in and out of hospital twice and relatives fear the girl might be suicidal.

“There have been so much talk about her comeback tour, about her involvement in a movie and all that, but at the same time there have been these warning signals coming from her, her performance on X-Factor for one; all these sent out mixed signals,” Obasi said.

Close friends of the diva had said she had been saying that she felt her time was near and had reportedly become more spiritual towards the end of her life. She had been talking of “going to see Jesus,” friends reported.

But as the final report of the autopsy is being awaited, many fans have already concluded that the singer’s death may not be unconnected with her persistent drug and alcohol abuse.

It is a sad ending for one who had enthralled so many across the world. But then again, it is becoming an all too familiar path for celebrities to take.

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