×

Clive Davis ‘devastated’ by Houston’s loss

Mogul holds moment of silence; Jennifer Hudson to perform tribute at Grammys

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 Hotel, hours after the death of his talented but troubled protege.

Meanwhile, CBS and Grammy Awards producers scrambled at the Staples Center Saturday night to revise the broadcast to acknowledge Houston’s death. Exec producer Ken Ehrlich wound up recruiting Jennifer Hudson to perform a tribute to Houston, as CBS confirmed in a tweet.

There had been speculation that Davis, the mogul who launched Houston’s career on his Arista label, would sit out his annual star-packed 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 the magnificent Whitney Houston.”

Bennett cited the situation in Amsterdam, where certain drugs are legal, which he called “a very sane city.” After his remarks, Bennett segued into the Patti Austin hit “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.”

Recording Academy prexy and CEO Neil Portnow, who once worked for Davis, also spoke at the party, recalling the time he saw Houston perform an early solo show at Hollywood’s Vine Street Bar and Grill. “You could tell this was going to be the star of all stars,” he said.

Portnow said they never considered canceling the party. “You could hear Whitney saying ‘C’mon guys, this is show business. The show must go on.'” Houston’s legacy, he added, “will be here forever.

Sean Combs was also among the speakers who took the stage to laud Houston’s memory.

The vibe inside and outside the Hilton bordered on the surreal amid the media frenzy that erupted after word of Houston’s death spread Saturday afternoon. Many of the music biz luminaries attending the party were visibly stunned by the news.

At the Hilton, the usual paparazzi turnout Davis’ bash grew exponentially as media outlets around the world sought reaction and details of Houston’s death — particularly because Davis played such an instrumental role in Houston’s career. According to media reports, the singer was found dead at Hilton earlier in the day.

A source at the hotel said singer Dionne Warwick and other members of Houston’s family were seen entering the hotel late Saturday afternoon.

With the media swarm, the security and police presence around the Hilton was dramatically increased, as uniformed officers virtually ringed the hotel’s perimeter around Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards.

Although the mood was somber, the affair continued largely business as usual with a red carpet for the stars and schmoozing in the International Ballroom prior to the sit-down dinner.

More Music

  • Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

    Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Moved to 2021

    The Songwriters Hall of Fame has rescheduled their 51st Annual Induction & Awards Gala originally set for June 11, 2020 to June 10, 2021, at the Marriott Marquis New York, the organization announced today. In making the announcement, SHOF President & CEO, Linda Moran, stated, “In facing the reality of the future being unknown and the extraordinary number [...]

  • Rihanna,Jay-Z Rihanna and Jay-Z accept the

    Rihanna and Jay-Z’s Foundations Each Donate $1 Million to Coronavirus Relief

    Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which has already made substantial donations to coronavirus-relief, today announced that an additional $1 million in grants towards COVID-19 response efforts will be matched by Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Foundation. The funds, totaling a combined $2 million between the two foundations, will support undocumented workers, the children of frontline health workers and first [...]

  • Adam Schlesinger 'Sunday' play opening night,

    Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne Frontman, Hospitalized With Coronavirus

    Adam Schlesinger, a musician and Emmy-winning songwriter highly regarded for his work as a member of Fountains of Wayne and songwriter for TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” has been hospitalized with coronavirus and is on a ventilator but is not in a coma, his attorney of 25 years Josh Grier confirmed toVariety. “He’s very sick and is [...]

  • Aqute Media Takes North America on

    Aqute Media Takes North America on Helen Reddy Biopic 'I Am Woman'

    London-based sales agent WestEnd Films has closed a North American deal with Jeff Sackman and Berry Meyerowitz’s company Aqute Media for “I Am Woman,” the biopic about Australian singer Helen Reddy. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival as the opening film of the Special Presentations section. The film also recently [...]

  • Taylor Swift performs on her 30th

    Vivendi Closes $3.3 Billion Sale of UMG to Tencent-Led Consortium

    Vivendi has closed the sale of 10% of its subsidiary Universal Music Group to a consortium led by the Chinese tech giant Tencent. The deal, which was announced in December, values UMG at €30 billion ($33 billion). As part of the agreement, the consortium – which includes Tencent Music Entertainment, as well as other financial [...]

  • Bob PittmanLupus Research Alliance 'Breaking Through

    iHeartMedia's Bob Pittman Foregoes Salary as Company Furloughs Employees

    iHeartMedia has joined the growing list of companies implementing sizable pay cuts for senior executives amid the upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis. Bob Pittman, chairman and chief executive of broadcast giant iHeartRadio, which counts more than 800 stations as well as a formidable digital radio presence, will forego his salary for the remainder of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content