When I saw the news on the internet this morning, I just could not believe it. Whitney Houston found dead in an LA hotel room, at age 48. I was not very aware of her on-going drug addiction but this sudden news still came as a shock. Whitney was one of the first few artists that I really liked growing up.
I remember back in 1986 when she got nominated for the Grammy Awards for hits from her debut album the previous year. My dad used to enjoy listening to quite a bit of her music. So he went and got a cassette of hers. We were living in Delhi at the time in Safdarjung Enclave and this collection of hits looked very much like it was arranged in Delhi itself along with the cover art and everything. 😉 It had hit songs from both her first and second albums, more so from the first; stuff like ‘Saving All My Love For You’, ‘The Greatest Love Of All’, ‘You Give Good Love’, ‘How Will I Know’, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ etc.
Every year we used to happily look forward to the Grammys, especially cos satellite television had not yet made it to India and this was the only outlet to ‘western music’ that we had back then. I still maintain that in those days the Grammys were of much better quality than today. There used to be another programme called Pre-Grammys on the local channel Doordarshan which showed music videos for nominated songs, roughly one week before the award show. Since Whitney had only recently hit the big time and covered the pop/adult contemporary genre very well, the Grammy academy would lap her stuff up like a kid in a candy store. So anyway, my dad would buy cassettes of Grammy nominated songs every year. And I remember the ones from 1986 and 1987 having a number of Whitney hits.
Later, in the 90’s we got MTV and I discovered rock music :p. So, slowly my attention started shifting from the likes of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and more towards Guns n’ Roses, Pearl Jam etc. But the Bodyguard soundtrack became such a huge smash that it was hard not to be swept by songs like the Dolly Parton cover ‘I Will Always Love You’, ‘I’m Every Woman’, ‘I Have Nothing’, ‘Run To You’ and so on. Then she did ‘Waiting To Exhale’ and another song with Mariah Carey from ‘The Prince Of Egypt’. Shortly afterwards, my interest started waning.
From around 1999 or so, I pretty much completely lost track of what she was up to. I think she was past her peak and losing popularity rapidly. From then on, I would only hear about Whitney in the news for all the wrong reasons such as relationship trouble with ex-hubby Bobby Brown or some other random airing of dirty laundry in the public eye. But I really had no idea that her drug problem had become so serious. I suppose I kind of assumed that many celebrities do drugs and didn’t think too much about it. As of this moment when I publish this post we still do not know exactly how she died. But anyway, it is a damn shame to lose one of the greatest voices of pop music and somebody who shaped a good part of my childhood musical palette.