Houston's death stuns music world

Rise and tragic fall: Pop stars end overshadows Grammy

Pop legend Whitney Houston’s death on Saturday in a Beverly Hills hotel on the eve of the Grammys triggered shock and a wave of tributes as music stars gathered for the annual awards show.

Musicians, many already in Los Angeles ahead of the Grammys on Sunday, lined up to pay tribute to the singer, who sold over 170 million records before descending into a very public battle with substance abuse.

“She was one of the greatest singers I ever heard,” said veteran crooner Tony Bennett, on the red carpet at the Beverly Hills hotel, where Houston's body was found in her fourth floor room.

Condolences poured in on Twitter from shocked fans and from the famous, as sadness over the news spread through the entertainment world.

“Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend... She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the earth,” wrote Mariah Carey.

With a ferociously powerful voice and a dazzling range, Houston achieved stardom as a pop-soul singer known as “The Voice” and the “Queen of Pop.” She also appeared in hit movies like Waiting to Exhale and The Bodyguard.

From a musical family that included mother Cissy Houston, a gospel star, and Dionne Warwick, her cousin, Whitney Houston started out as a teen model and then made a dazzling segue to music.

She struggled with substance abuse, which took a toll on her health and career. In a 2009 interview with TV talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey, Houston blamed the emotionally abusive and jealous ex-husband Bobby Brown for many of her problems, admitted that she laced her marijuana with rock cocaine and revealed that she’d spent time in rehab.

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