Video: Police believe tragedy may be accident
SINGER Whitney Houston may have drowned in a hotel bath after taking prescription drugs and drinking heavily over the previous two evenings.
The 48-year-old singer, who had battled years of addiction, was found dead in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, hours before she was due to attend a star-studded party downstairs.
Two bodyguards, a hairdresser and stylist were believed to have been in the singer's room at the time and discovered her body, with her head under water, after becoming concerned that she had been in the bathroom for more than an hour.
Prescription drugs, but no illegal drugs, were found in the suite. Ms Houston was known to take Xanax, a drug to ease anxiety which can cause drowsiness. Anti-anxiety drugs valium and lorazepam were also believed to have been found.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate her for 20 minutes but she was pronounced dead at 3.55pm local time on Saturday.
Last Thursday, witnesses said Ms Houston had displayed erratic behaviour, including doing handstands by the Beverly Hilton Hotel pool. Later that night she was seen looking dishevelled at a nightclub. A video showed her performing briefly in a faltering voice. On Friday night she was also seen "partying hard" in the hotel bar with friends.
She had also attended rehearsals for the Grammy Awards, and her behaviour there was described as erratic.
She spoke to her mother, Cissy Houston, by telephone half an hour before she died and the singer was said to have been looking forward to the party. Her daughter Bobbi Kristina (18), was taken to hospital yesterday morning suffering from stress, having spent the night at the hotel.
As news of Ms Houston's death spread, tributes poured in from entertainment figures and fans across the world.
The Grammy Awards, where she had been due to appear last night, were quickly transformed to include tributes, including one to be sung by Jennifer Hudson.
Ms Houston's godmother, the soul singer Aretha Franklin, said: "I just can't talk about it now. It's so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen."
Mariah Carey said she was "heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend", and Dolly Parton said: "Mine is only one of millions of hearts broken."
From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, the gospel-trained Ms Houston was one of the world's best-selling recording artists. She mesmerised audiences with her powerful vocals, released seven studio albums and sold 170 million CDs, singles and videos.
Songs like 'I Will Always Love You' and 'Saving All My Love' became global hits and Ms Houston starred in films, including 'The Bodyguard' with Kevin Costner.
However, her career began to unravel as she battled drug addiction, spent various spells in rehabilitation, and embarked on a tumultuous 15-year marriage to the singer Bobby Brown.
In an infamous 2002 interview, Ms Houston said: "The biggest devil is me."
She confessed to abusing cocaine, cannabis and pills, but denied using crack cocaine.
Her pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, and her record sales slumped. Her marriage to Mr Brown ended in 2007 and two years later she made a comeback.
But as she went on tour many fans were unimpressed and some walked out.
On the night she died Ms Houston had been due to attend a pre-Grammy party hosted by her long-time mentor, record producer Clive Davis.
A surreal scene unfolded at the hotel as the party continued while Ms Houston's body remained in her room on the fourth floor.
At the party an emotional Mr Davis told the audience: "I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked us to carry on." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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