An emotional Clive Davis called Whitney Houston ”a beautiful person who had talent beyond compare” as he addressed the crowd at his pre-Grammy fete Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton.

There had been speculation that the music mogul would sit out his annual party after the shocking news of his protege’s untimely passing earlier in the day at the age of 48, following years of well-publicized problems with substance abuse.

Davis took the stage shortly after 9:30 p.m. and said that he was ”personally devastated by the loss,” noting that Houston had ”graced this stage with her regal presence so many times.” He said that Houston ”would have wanted the music to go on” and said that her family had asked that the party’s planned performances continue. He called for a moment of silence, which was followed by the appearance of Tony Bennett.

Bennett surprised many in the crowd by calling on the government to legalize drugs, after noting the recent passings of Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse ”and now Whitney Houston.”

Bennett cited the experience of Amsterdam, where certain drugs are legal, which he called ”a very sane city.”