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Whitney Houston Dies

Aired February 11, 2012 - 20:10   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "Breaking News."

DON LEMON, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: You know, every once in a while you have to report something that you thought would be the worst thing that could happen and it was going to happen and now it has. Singer Whitney Houston, one of the greatest voices of our generation, CNN has gotten conformation from her representative, has died.

Whitney Houston has died. Grammy winning entertainer, 48 years old. You know, Whitney was a young entertainer back in the 80s who came of age with pop hits and then went on to fame with a movie, with "The Bodyguard" and then did a remake of Dolly Parton's song "I Will always Love You," it rose to the top of the charts.

So, we are just getting confirmation, now. And it is sad news and we're going to continue with the news as long as we can, here, but the singer, Whitney Houston, 48 years old. And really, it is one of the greatest voices of all time,

You see her there with recording extraordinaire, Clive Davis, who handled her career so deftly for a long time and brought to her back a number of times -- tried to bring her back and tried to guide her. But Whitney, as we know, had a battle with drugs, to her own admission, alcohol to her own admission, and we know that famous quote from that ABC Diane Sawyer interview, "crack is whack." When Diane asked her if she had an issue with crack cocaine, she said she made too much money to do crack cocaine and she had an issue with cocaine. That's what -- that's according to Whitney Houston.

Again, Whitney Houston, 48 years old, she has died, we have just learned from representative, who is Kristen Foster, confirming that now. We had been seeing the reports coming in from the Internet and CNN wanted to get it confirm, because when you report something like this, you want to be absolutely sure.

Whitney Houston, again, had a string of hits. She hit the Billboard 100s, "Saving all My Love for You," remember that? The young Whitney Houston, "How will I know," that was back in the '80s, "The Greatest Love of All," "I want to Dance with Somebody." All these songs, I remember when I was a kid, when I was in college.

"I want to Dance with Somebody, Who Loves Me," "Didn't We Almost Have it All," so emotional, "I get so emotional, baby," we remember all of that. "Where do Broken Hearts Go" and you can go on and on with Whitney Houston song, how many times she hit the No. 1, how many times she hit the Billboard 100, the Billboard Top Five.

But it is a really sad evening, I have to say, to announce this. And we had all -- everybody I think, because Whitney was so talented, we had hoped that she would -- could pull it together at some point. And we don't know the cause of death, yet, it has not been confirmed. But we had hoped that Whitney would pull it together.

OK, I'm just getting guidance from our producer, here. So, we're going to talk to our Larry King, who has interviewed Whitney before, in a minute, here.

But Whitney had her issues and we would hope that she would bounce back from those addiction issues that she had and that she would become the great artist that she once was, and it never did happen, it never did happen, no matter how many times we had hoped.

And, we weren't sure if, you know, as we were looking from a far, if they were trying too hard and she was singing too much and she would come out with the hoarse voice. But she never did pull it together at the end. And we know that she was married to Bobby Brown and they had that reality show for a while, which was really just a strange television. And we saw Whitney at her worst, in that moment. But we have seen her a lot at her best, and she's looking great in the video that we have now up, her and Clive Davis, here.

Larry, you have interviewed Whitney Houston and you know what I'm saying is true. I'm not lying about it. We were hope that she would get it back. We don't know the cause of death. But man, what a sad night.

LARRY KING, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Yeah, it's really sad. And tonight is Clive Davis' huge Grammy party, which she has every year on the eve of the Grammy's and I'm going with my wife Shawn, and we just heard the new and that's going to a put a great pall on this party.

Clive was so close to her, discovered her, literally, helped make her a star. In fact, last year or the year before, Whitney was his surprise guest and she sang at this event, tonight. It's going to be a -- it's going to be a strange occasion.

I liked her a lot. I liked her as a person. I thought she was a gamer, I thought she was an incredible talent. I don't like to presume what she died of, but I'm sure everybody's guessing that.

LEMON: And, you know, Larry, as -- I remember when she did that and I remember when she came back and she had had latest album that came out, I guess it's just over a year ago. And I remember, she went to, I think it was, Australia, she did the European tour and then went to Australia, as well, on the last tour, and she was singing so much and she had gotten hoarse and she really could not pull it all. And that video, you know, went viral, like what is going on with Whitney Houston. But, you know, many people said, hey, I kind of expected this to happen. We didn't want it to happen. But can you talk about some of the trials and tribulations that she went through?

KING: Yeah, Don, there's a lot of voices coming in at the same time.

LEMON: Yeah, I don't know what that is.

KING: Do you hear me clear?

LEMON: I can hear you clearly, Larry.

KING: I don't know what that is. You know what it reminds me of, Don? Is Judy Garland, who also, I believe was 48 years old, who had this up-and-down career and who fell victim to, you know, she fell victim to drugs and lost her life in London after a comeback, a downside and a comeback. I compare her to Judy Garland, I also compare her as an artist to Judy Garland.

LEMON: Yeah, Judy Garland, I mean, had one of the greatest voices, ever.

KING: Oh yeah, so did Whitney Houston.

LEMON: Yeah, and you could see, in both -- that's a good comparison, because you could hear in their voices really what they had experienced in their lives, whenever they sang a note, you know? And that was part of the draw.

KING: That's a very good observation. I remember seeing Judy Garland when she came back at the Palace Theatre in New York, and whenever she would sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," or any of those ballads, all of her life was in her voice, which was -- made her great.

Whitney the same way. She didn't just sing a song, she felt a song. She, moved you with her.

LEMON: "Over the Rainbow," for Judy Garland and for Whitney Houston, her "Over the Rainbow" was "I will Always Love You." And she always ended, she always closed with that song, Larry.

KING: Yes. Correct. And no one could cover that song. You wouldn't want to have other people sing it.

LEMON: Even though it was Dolly Parton's song...


KING: this is a tragic day in show business.

LEMON: Yeah. Yeah. Even though it was Dolly Parton's song, Whitney did it and she made it her own, even Dolly said that. She said, you know I wrote this song and I sang it and it was a hit, but man, when Whitney did it, she just took it away from and she made it her won. KING: In fact, I asked Dolly once, do you like performing as much as writing? And she says, well, she loves performing. Well, when you can write a song like that and have Whitney Houston sing it, you love writing it.

LEMON: Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's, Larry, it's odd, I have to tell us because just last night, and I'm not kidding you, I was online and I was thinking about Whitney Houston and dealing with a cold, and I had taken some cold medicine, I couldn't sleep. And I was thinking about Whitney Houston and I just started looking up online Whitney Houston and I looked at -- I know...

Whatever that is, can we please mute that in the control room? Can you take that off?

Thank you. Yeah.

So, Larry, I think it may be your phone line.

KING: I don't know what it is, but there's a lot of interference.

LEMON: Yeah, there's certainly...

KING: I'm on a landline, so I don't know how that's happening.

LEMON: Yeah, that's not Larry's line, guys.

KING: That sounds better, now.

LEMON: So, I was thinking about -- It was because of Adele and the throat surgery. I know why I was doing it, because Adele has had this throat surgery that many artists have had. And I looked up Whitney Houston's voice or what have you, and they gave the reasons why Whitney, you know, may be losing her voice, at this time, and it had to do the way she sang, it had to do with using, you know, smoking cigarettes, and also training, and all this. It's very interesting that I was looking at that last night, online and all of a sudden this.

KING: Yeah.

LEMON: And they were talking about how Whitney could get her career back if she really wanted to, but she'd have to take vocal lessons, she'd have to sing in a different register. And all those people that you were mentioning, you were mentioning Judy Garland, they were saying the sort of same sort of references.

Isn't it sad, Larry, to look at that picture on the screen, now, it says, "Whitney Houston 1963-2012?" I never thought I'd be reporting this.

KING: They are unreal moments. People -- people should not die young. And they -- it should not be a thing where you brought -- helped bring about it yourself through -- you know, I never understood -- well, you know, I was a smoker until I had a heart attack and so I know what it's like to be an -- I was an addicted smoker. That's a slow killer. So, I know what it's like to be irresistibly impulsed, in a way, to something.

But when you read this -- when you hear this kind of thing, it's a jolt. I will try, if you want, Don, I know you're on tomorrow, I'll try to describe what happens at that party. I'm sure CNN will be there, at that party tonight, because this is -- this is Clive's annual event and that was -- I mean, Whitney -- I think of all the artists, Whitney was his favorite.

LEMON: Is it fair to say that Clive was her Svengali?

KING: Yeah, that's a good term. He was her Svengali. She was a great artist, but all artists need people. You know, you don't go on by yourself and, he was a -- Clive Davis, one of the great musical promoters and he was a recording genius. He finds the sound, he had a great ear.

I spent two hours with him, up in his office. He has a great office at Sony, in New York, having lunch and listening to Harry Connick's last album, which Clive produced. And we talked about Whitney Houston, there, and all the artists he brought forward. But Whitney was his -- Whitney was his personal favorite. I'm sure he's -- I don't know what that's going to be like, tonight. I'm sure that he is crushed.

LEMON: You think that he will -- It'll go on, right? And it'll end up, I'm sure, being a tribute in some way to Whitney Houston.

KING: It'll wind up a memorial dinner. I'm sure it will. Artists -- there's a lot of surprise musical guests, tonight, and I think Glen Campbell is going to be -- you know, Glen's got Alzheimer's, but he's performing at the Grammys tomorrow night, and I'm sure he'll sing, tonight. Oh, I'll let you know tomorrow what it was like.

LEMON: Larry, we'd like to have you, when you go to that dinner, and let me know when you have to go, but can you stick around and talk with me a little bit about Whitney? About her career?

Do you remember, in the beginning, Larry, I know that you have to go and tell me if you have to run. In the beginning, when she came out with, you know, she was fresh and had this amazing voice in the 80s and no one had seen anything like her with "Saving all My Love for You" and they were like who is this fresh-faced young girl? And not only talented, but she was beautiful, people -- she could have been a model.

LARRY: Oh, she was -- I remember, I interviewed her first on my radio show, when I had my national radio show, when she walked in the studio, I went, whoa, forget it. Yeah, she combined a lot of things, talent and beauty and she had grace and she was a great performer and she loved the business and I don't know how to keep repeating anything except, it's just sad, sad, sad.

LEMON: Hey, Larry, one more thing I want to say, as we're -- do you remember -- I don't know if it was at Grammys, it may have been the Grammys, but it was a few years back and there was a big musical event happening in Hollywood and Whitney showed up and she was so gaunt and so thin, when she came on stage people gasped at how thin she had gotten. And she said she had just been working really hard. Do you remember that?

KING: Don, it was this party and I was at the next table and she -- she was -- I didn't recognize her.

LEMON: Yeah, Larry, stand by. We're going to go to Michelle Turner, a CNN entertainment reporter.

Now, Michelle, you on the line?

KING: I got to run.

LEMON: OK, Larry, thank you. Larry King, everyone.

KING: I'll talk to you tomorrow, if you want. I'll tell you about the party.

LEMON: All right, Larry, thank you, appreciate it.

Michelle, you there?


LEMON: I Michelle. What can you tell us? We're hearing from Whitney Houston's representative, Kristen Foster, that she has passed away at the age of 48.

TURNER: Yeah, she has confirmed that to CNN, at the age of 48 that Whitney Houston has died. I'm actually here in Beverly Hills, right now, having lunch with a group of people that were with Whitney two nights ago at an event, here in Hollywood, a pre-Grammy event that Kelly Price was hosting, one of Whitney's friends.

They were telling me that Whitney seemed to be in good spirits. She seemed to be having a good time, she actually got on stage and sang. She sang with Kelly, she sang by herself, and they didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

Now, after the party there were pictures that popped up on the Internet of Whitney in a state of that seemed to be, disarray. No one really knew what was going on, but again, there was confirmation today from her publicist that she has died at the age of 48.

Also one of our staff members was interviewing Clive Davis on Thursday about his party tonight, his pre-Grammy party, and Whitney was there and he saw Whitney. He said she seemed to be OK, didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. So this is all, as you can imagine, Don, a complete shock to everyone, right now. And I'm in, like I said, a restaurant where the word has spread, here in Beverly Hills, and everyone is just kind of sitting open mouthed and shocked about this. LEMON: Let's talk -- she had a movie coming out, correct? And with one of the...

TURNER: "Sparkle." Yeah, she was doing the remake of "Sparkle" with Jordin Sparks.

LEMON: "Sparkle," that's right, with Jordin Sparks. And "Sparkle" was the movie, 1970s movie and they did the...

TURNER: In the early 70s with Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas. It was about -- it was a bit of a cult classic movie. She was doing a remake, playing the mother of three girls that formed a singing group. And again, throughout this movie, you know, everyone seemed to say Whitney was doing really well. She sang in the movie. Some the feedback that we had heard from the set was that she came, she was prepared, she was get being back on her game. So, we don't still know exactly what happened here. We don't know where she was found dead, where she died or what are the incidents surrounding this. All we do have, right now, is confirmation from her representative, Kristen Foster, that Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48.

LEMON: Michelle, was it, you were talking about "Sparkle," the cult classic, which was -- an Aretha Franklin cover, "Giving Him Something He Could Feel."


LEMON: And it was Irene Cara and I forget the other young lady who played the lead in that movie, but it was, I remember that, I've seen it a million times, a million, a million times. And if someone like Whitney Houston redoes something like that, It was bound to be a hit. Can't say for sure, but bound to be a hit.

But all of the press, all of the video that we have seen from the making of that movie, she looked to be in good health, as she sat there with Jordan Sparks.

TURNER: Yeah, she did. And, you know, again when a number of people saw her on Thursday night, all of the information that I've been getting today is that Whitney seemed to be in very good spirits, that she looked a bit disheveled, but not anything out of the ordinary, that she had a good time at the event that she was at on Thursday and that she seemed to be doing OK. So, no one really knows what's been going on.

I mean, it's been well documented, her struggle with substance abuse. She seemed to have come back, trying to make that comeback. I think it will be very interesting what happens at Clive Davis's party, tonight. I know Larry was just on talking about it because Clive was her mentor, he's the man who introduced her to America. So, it's going to be very interesting what happens at that event, tonight.

And tomorrow on the Grammy, what they will do. I will be on the Grammy red carpet tomorrow, and I know I'm sure that it will be a very solemn event, there. There were tributes that were planned during the show, for Clarence Clemons, there was an Etta James tribute with Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt, that was planned. And there was talk if there would be a Don Cornelius tribute, but you have to figure that with this news, the whole show will be shaken up and that something will have to be done there, tomorrow night.

LEMON: So listen, Michelle, I just -- I got the word, I just finished the show, I got the word as I was going downstairs and I ran up, so I -- I don't have my glasses and I don't have any -- I didn't even have time to log onto the computer, but if the audience will bear with me, I'm going to read some of the -- I'm reading off my Blackberry, some of the tweets that are coming in.

Solder Boy is saying: "RIP," rest in peace, "Whitney Houston."

Russell Simmons, "Deeply saddened by the death of Whitney Houston. May she rest in peace."

Mark Zuckerberg. "Rest in peace, Whitney Houston, Thank you for the amazing music you brought to the world."

Ludacris is saying, "RIP," rest in peace, "Whitney Houston, one of the purest souls I've ever met in my life."

Akon, "We've lost another legend. Rest in peace, Whitney Houston. I'm honored to have had the chance to work with such an amazing human being."

Duran Duran saying, "Very sad to hear about Whitney Houston. Rest in peace."

Keri Hilson, please say this news about Whitney, about Whitney Houston all over my timeline is not true. A very sick joke? She's hoping I can't take it, please.

Goldie Hawn is saying I'm very sad to hear of Whitney Houston passing. She was one of the great artists that has grace us all. May she rest in peace.

And you know, I have the same sentiment as well because much like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston would had the sound track of my youth, at least my college years.

And Nischelle, you can appreciate -- we have so many these days. Here's the thing, we have so many people who need auto-tune and who need computers and backup singers and dancers and whatever to make it in the music industry and to even sound halfway decent. And Whitney Houston could get up there and open her mouth and music would come out.

She didn't need a piano, she didn't need a band, she didn't need anything. She could just open her mouth and if there was any testament to that, do you remember her sentence, she sang the star spangled banner and turned it into a number one hit. The girl had pipes. She was talent personified.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT(via telephone): She was the voice in the sound track of so many of our lives. LEMON: Yes. It's so sad when, you know, people like her and Amy Winehouse. And Larry King mentioned, you know, a very similar instance when it come the Judy Garland. And many times we find -- and you guys know I'm not lying, the most talented ones are sometimes the most troubled. I think that genius sometimes because people have such talent and are such geniuses that they are tortured many times and I think that may have been the case with Whitney Houston. She was so brilliant in her singing. And if you watched her, if you just watched her and you were a fan of talent, people could actually sing, she would mesmerize you.

And here's the interesting thing, and I will say this to -- I didn't always agree with the musical choices because sometimes it was too poppy, a lot of people said it was too poppy. And I would always say why, you know? This is what made her rich, though, singing those pop songs. That's what garnered her all the money and the acclaim.

But sometimes I wanted her and the criticism about Whitney is that people wanted her to do songs and music that had more depth, that was richer and that was more deserving of her voice, right. And so, that was it. And if that was a criticism, then that's a compliment turned around. Because she was so -- her voice was so amazing people said, hey, listen, I want her to sing a song that's deserving to come out to have that voice singing.

TURNER: Well, you hear now, I mean, every female pop and R&B singer that is out today is compared to Whitney Houston. Because like I was saying before, she is the voice. Her roots were rooted in gospel music, her mother, Sissy Houston, a gospel singer, her aunt, Dionne Warwick, also made a lot of great music.

She is from a music family. She was brought up singing in the church and she always said that was her favorite music was gospel. You saw that time and time again on award shows and when people - they tribute to her. There was always a gospel singer there singing to her.

Her voice was so strong. And when she came out in the 80s, I mean, I don't think anyone had ever seen -- you and Larry were speaking to this too, someone, an African-American woman with a voice like that who was so beautiful, so strong --

LEMON: And just - I mean, I just a mouthful of white just beautiful teeth, the bone structure. I mean, I hate to wax poetic about Whitney Houston but she was a beautiful woman who was extremely talented.

TURNER: Yes, absolutely. And again, I just -- you know, we're talking about this and I can kind of hear it in your voice. I'm still pretty stunned and it's hard to digest those words that Whitney Houston has died.

But once again CNN has confirmed it through her representative that Whitney Houston at the age of 48 has passed away. And the last time I think that publicly a lot of people saw her was Thursday night at the event she was at for Kelly Price and then I think she was at another event after that. And, again, our staffer saw her on Thursday evening at -- with Clive Davis doing interviews for his pre --

LEMON: Yes, Nischelle. Are you still there? I think I lost Nischelle for a little bit.

Let me just reset for our viewers here, and you're watching -- I'm not sure if we're broadcasting around the world but anyway, you're watching CNN domestic. And I want to welcome our international viewers from around the world. I'm Don Lemon here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

And the breaking news is that entertainer, singer, extraordinary Whitney Houston has died. Grammy award winning singer, Whitney Houston has died at the age of 48. Her representative, Kristen Foster, has confirmed that to CNN. And we're looking at these pictures of Whitney there at her best. And Whitney one of the all- time most selling artists of all time.

And as a matter of fact, I think Whitney was in the Guinness book the world records at one point for her list of awards which included to Emmy awards, six Grammy awards, 32 billboard music awards, 22 music award, and a total of 415 career awards. That was as of 2010.

Her career started as we know -- it started in the church with her mom, Sissy Houston, of course who is a gospel singer. And then she came from a musical family as Nischelle Turner, entertainment reporter was telling us. Because her aunt, Dionne Warwick, I mean come on, everybody knows who Dionne Warwick is.

So, she came from a musical family. The number one hit that she had "saving all my love for you" back in the 80s. It started with that. Then it was "how will I know" then "the greatest love of all," then "I want to dance with somebody," then "didn't we almost have it all," "so emotional", "where do broken hearts go" and on and on and on and then we have of course as we said, "the greatest love of all" and then the song that became her hit, the Dolly Parton classic, Nischelle, that she remade and made her own.

And then she did movies, she did remember "waiting to exhale," she was in there, Nischelle. She did "the preacher's wife." And then she was in the middle of a movie now.

Nischelle, do we know if the "sparkle" remake she was doing, they had finished shooting, right?

TURNER: Yes. The movie has finished shooting. I'm not sure if there was a release date yet, but the movie had finished shooting. I know I remember hearing Jordan Sparks talk about her experience shooting this movie with Whitney Houston. And she said Whitney was like a mother to her on the set of this movie. That Whitney surrounded her with love, encouraged her, supported her and that she was very nervous because she was shooting a movie with the Whitney Houston, the voice, but that it was a great experience for her.

And Whitney also talked about how good of an experience doing this movie was. You know, this was her first movie since I think "waiting to exhale" and she talked about how wonderful it was to be back on a movie set and to be doing another movie and singing in this movie.

LEMON: I think it was "the preacher's wife." Or was it "waiting to exhale", I mean "the preacher's wife" was at 1996.

TURNER: You're right.

LEMON: Dionne Warwick was her cousin. I didn't meant that -- not her aunt but was a cousin. Go on. That's a small little thing. Go ahead, Nischelle.

As I'm getting information now from my producers, I'm hearing that entertainment producer Alan Duke is on the line.

Alan, you have more details about Whitney's death? What can you tell us?

ALAN DUKE, ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCER (via telephone): Well, I just spoke with a close associate of Ray J, who has been seen on a number of occasions with Whitney in recent weeks along Los Angeles. This is coming from a close friend of Ray Jay, a Los Angeles hip hop artist who goes by the name of the original Young Buck who I know to be close to Ray Jay.

He told me just a few minutes ago that Ray J was with her and is the one who found her dead at the Beverly Hills hotel rather Beverly Hilton Hotel. And we don't know any other details from that. I'm hoping to speak with Ray J Norwood. But that is what we're being told by Ray J Norwood. He just spoke with him. That he has been with him. And we have no other details.

LEMON: OK. And you're saying at the Beverly Hilton hotel, which used to be the old Marv Griffin Hotel, right?

DUKE: It's actually where the Clive Davis Grammy party was set and she was there in order to attend that party.

LEMON: Yes. The Beverly Hilton, if you know, Beverly Hilton old school Hollywood, the SAG awards which just held there last a couple weeks ago. Many of the big events are held there and a lot of people stay there. It's one of those hotels that can you go to and it's quiet. You don't have to be bothered if you want to go to Hollywood. If you want to be there. And still see starts and paparazzi doesn't really show up. So she was there presumably preparing for the Clive Davis party, Alan?

DUKE: Yes, the Clive Davis party a huge event on the eve of the Grammys. It's a who's who in the music industry and they were gathered there and it's my -- I'm being told that she was staying there as a guest last night in order to be there for the party.

LEMON: OK. Nischelle, you had some other information you wanted to give me? Nischelle, are you there?

TURNER: Yes, I'm here. I'm actually headed to the Beverly Hilton as we speak. And I know that the information that Alan just had was that she was at the Beverly Hilton. I should be there in a matter of minutes. And as soon as I get there and get any information, Don, I will come back on the air and share this with you. But I am headed to the Beverly Hilton at this point.

LEMON: All right. Alan, you're still with me, right?

DUKE: I'm here.

LEMON: Nischelle, we can hear the background from your phone. So, if you don't mind, as you're on your way, can you just hang up and we'll call you back? Because as you are talking, when your phone is up, I can't hear as well.

So Alan, again, according to the person that you have been speaking to, Ray J is the one who found her at the Beverly Hilton?

DUKE: The person that I talked to I know is a close associate of Ray J. I've seen them together. I know them to be close friends. And he told me that Ray J is distraught and, quote, "tripping right now about what has happened." He didn't give me any details other than what I told you, that they were together, you know.

If you watch the tabloids on line, you've seen pictures of Whitney around Hollywood with Ray J in recent days and that they have been together the last several nights. Now of course Ray J has had a reality show. Ray J is the sister of Brandy Norwood the singer -- or the brother of Brandy Norwood, the singer.

And he is of course a singer. Now, we're not getting any other details about it but that is what I'm being told by this person who I know to be a very close associate of Ray J. I'm hoping to speak with Ray J soon personally but have I not spoken to him directly.

LEMON: Yes. I have been seeing in some of the tabloids and if you have seen -- I saw TMZ the other day and they had something on about Whitney and Ray J and, you know, it was actually very tongue and cheek. They are having a fun moment with it. I think Ray J was helping Whitney Houston get out of a car something like that and they were being very playful at whatever event they were going to. And they sort of insinuated as sort of May-December romance but no one was actually sure. They weren't sure if they were friends or what was going on. But according to your sources they were actually dating?

DUKE: Well, they've been together the last four nights. And they were together last night and this morning at the hotel. What the nature of the relationship is I don't know, other than the fact that they were together.


DUKE: But, you know, Ray J Norwood of course is intimate, if you will, for several things, including his relationship with Kim Kardashian in the early part of her - her thing.

LEMON: Yes. So, we don't know. But what we do know is that we have lost a major, major star, a major talent, and that is Whitney Houston dead at the age of 48. That was CNN is confirming. And according to our Alan Duke, our Alan Duke is our entertainment reporter, an entertainment producer who said that, you know, she had been staying at the Beverly Hilton for the last several nights in Beverly Hills preparing for Clive Davis' party tonight ant that entertainer Ray J apparently found her dead. Again, that's according to Alan duke.

Let's go now to Dr. Drew from HLN.

Dr. Drew, it's amazing to have to report this. So young, just 48 years old and we have seen -- and we know over the course of the last at least ten years what Whitney Houston had been dealing with. But that said we've lost a great talent.

DOCTOR DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST, DR, DREW: Yes. And as with every time I have to get on television and have this conversation, it's a reminder that people that are in the public eye are human beings and some of them have very serious conditions and they can be the brunt of jokes at times but the fact is these things are potentially deadly.

Now, obviously I'm taking great liberty in assuming or even suggesting that her substance history has something to do with what happened here. But if I'm a betting man, that's how it goes. Assumed that she may have died of natural causes but you know, that reminder that these are deadly conditions and that celebrities are no different than anybody else, except that they are doing it all very publicly. And this would just - I mean, my heart breaks. It's enough already. We hear poor Demi is sick, and thank God she's in treatment. And now Whitney is not with us. And this is really sad.

LEMON: Dr. Drew, don't go anywhere. Let's listen to Whitney perform. Do we want to hear "greatest love of all"?


LEMON: So, that's Whitney Houston singing "I get so emotional." That was back in 1994. We had "greatest love of all." That didn't come up but this is Whitney performing back in 1994.

Dr. Drew, as you said, you know, people - they are human, entertainers. They just happen to live their lives in public view. Many of the time, we saw all the trials and tribulations they go through is seen by - are seen by everyone.

PINSKY: Right.

LEMON: And that was the case with Whitney Houston. And we don't know the cause of death but we do know what she's been dealing with from her. She said she had been dealing with an addiction problem. And then she had been checking herself. The last time she checked herself into rehab I believe was May of 2011.

PINSKY: You know, and these things do progress. It gets worse as time goes along. As we get older, or bodies are less able to handle the effects and ravages. And it is something that chronic condition by the people, aren't dealing with on a daily basis, they are in harm's way.

And as far as it goes to, you know, pertains to people in the public eye. You know, celebrities don't have the same consequences that the rest of us do. They may not have a employer that may pull us aside or they may not have a family that feels sufficiently empowered to pull them aside and would do something about this. Or by the way, were out of your life.

People are too enamored with being in their lives or having them make money for them, or employing them, whatever it might be in them. That's the special liability they have that pulls them out of the focus on their human condition and back to their work, which they of course love and we love and we just have to remember these things are very, very dangerous.

Now again, you and I, don, are talking perhaps out of school by jumping ahead to this. I want you to keep saying that. I have other calls. But, again, when there are problems that have been there for a long time and they're potentially dangerous, that's usually what it is.

LEMON: Dr. Drew, stand by. I want to get your perspective a little built later on. Alan Duke is back. Alan, what do you know?

DUKE: OK, I just talked with the publicist for Ray J, who was telling me that Ray J was nowhere near there when Whitney died. So, we're sorting this out. While a close associate of Ray J tells me that Ray J told he was. His publicist says he was quote "nowhere near there." He refuses to give me any further information about that. So, we're going to backtrack on that because the publicist who I know to be Ray J's publicist is saying that is inaccurate.

LEMON: OK. Let's back of, of all of this and not get ahead of ourselves. So, thank you Alan. We are not going ahead of ourselves because when things like this happen we know the information comes fast and furious and not all of this is accurate. And you know, everyone wants to get their information on. All the stars want to come to out and say, I knew this person, what have you. We'll catch our breath here, our collective breath and we will hold off a little bit and -- because what we do know and what's important is that according to her representative is that Whitney Houston has died, a 48-year-old singer extraordinaire, Grammy award, a multiple award winning artist, numerous awards, has died at the age of 48 years old. Someone who covers Hollywood all the time, that's her beat, has covered Whitney Houston, has met Whitney Houston I'm sure is Kareen Wynter. And Kareen Wynter joins us now from Hollywood.

Kareen, what a sad evening. What a sad story that has to report.

Absolutely, Don. Especially the night before the Grammys, right. The biggest music event of the year where so many people gather to celebrate. And now, they are going to be gathering and really mourning the loss of this beloved entertainer.

You know, Don, you'll see me looking down at my iPhone periodically. I'm keeping my eyes on this. Because we've reached out to so many people from people Whitney used to work with such as Denzel Washington, to Kevin Costner to get reaction. I've spoken to a couple people actually who was with Whitney Houston a couple nights ago at the Four Seasons hotel.

Apparently Kelly Price, you know her, Don, the R&B singer, she's actually nominated for four Grammys. She was performing at an event. It was called Kelly Price and friends, a jam section. And I'm told by some of the music executives there-the-saw Whitney, she was on the red carpet smiling. In their words she looked fabulous. And that she saying, they said it wasn't, you know, the same Whitney that we'd all grown up with and have loved over the years. She just hasn't really been the same, you know, since her, you know, therapy and rehab. But they said she was there. She looked strong and that she was really, really excited and looking forward to tonight, the big Clive Davis gala. Of course, Clive is her mentor. So, they're actually, Don, as we are in the mid, they are trying to piece all of this together and trying to figure out how this could have happened.

And so, again, my iPhone is blowing up with people calling in and wanting to express their condolences. And as my colleague, Alan duke, just pointed out, there seems to be a lot of discrepancy here as to who exactly found Whitney Houston.

According to Whitney's publicist, you know, Ray J wasn't the one who found Whitney.

LEMON: Right.

WYNTER: She claims that she actually got to the hotel before Ray J. So, we're trying to figure that out and we're checking in with the L.A. coroner's office to see if we have any more information, Don, at this hour.

LEMON: Kareen stand by and continue to check with your sources in your black berry there and I will as well. But before we play this, I just want to tell our audience, Whitney Houston dead at the age of 48. "Greatest love of all." Let's listen for a little bit.


LEMON: Singer Whitney Houston at her finest singing "the greatest love of all" there and of course you see her mom's in the video, too, Sissy Houston. Whitney Houston dead at the age of 48. Not exactly sure of the cause of death but we're working on that. We understand that we're going to get a briefing sometime this evening. Could be shortly. And that's the information that CNN is getting.

I want to go to CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner who has new information now. Nischelle, what do you have?

TURNER: Hi Don. Well, first of all, let me apologize to you for all of the noise on my call before. I'm traveling to the Beverly Hilton, like I said, trying to get there and get some more information. But I just spoke with Johnny Gill who is a member of new edition with Bobby Brown and a very close friend of his. And he told me that Bobby is with him and the entire group right now. They're supposed to have a show in Memphis tonight, that's where they are.

He said that Bobby is struggling but he's hanging in there. He's got all of his brothers around him is what he said, all of the members of new edition, that's he's devastated, as they all are. They didn't have a lot of details for me. I asked where Bobby Christina was. Johnny said they believe she's here in Los Angeles. Bobby apparently had spoken with her. She's not doing well he said. Those were his words. And he said everyone is just in complete shock.

I asked Johnny who knows Whitney very well as well how he's doing and he said he's just devastated. And he didn't even know how to put into words how he felt. I did ask him, you know, are you guys sure that Bobby's OK? What he said to me is we're going to take care of him. We're not going to let him out of our sight, we're going to take care of him and we're going to be here with him.

He said they were trying to decide ride now what to do about their concert tonight, what they were going to do, how they would approach it, if they would even perform. They performed last night in Louisville, Kentucky and everything seemed to be fine at that point, Johnny said. But he did s-- but he did say understandably that Bobby Brown is struggling now.

LEMON: Yes. And I can only imagine. You know, they were together for years. Bobby Christina, their daughter, the product of that marriage. And of course, that was a tumultuous marriage as well. And being here n Atlanta, we know they lived in a near suburb of Atlanta. And people knew them at town. They would see them around town. And everything they went through, you would see it here and you would hear about it.

And also we would heard about it because being Bobby Brown, Nischelle, was the name of that reality show. And the beginning, when they were going to do that reality show at first, Whitney said she was wasn't going to have anything to do with it. That it was just going to be Bobby and then all of a sudden Whitney turned up in the reality show and you got to see them up close and personal and to many some things that should not have been revealed.

Stand by, please Nischelle Turner, if you will. And I want to go to Howard Bragman. Howard, are you there?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, PUBLICIST (via telephone): Yes, Don.

LEMON: Howard Bragman is a publicist to the stars out in Hollywood. Howard, thank you so much. You have had to deal with stars that are very famous and powerful and also having tumultuous personal lives as well much like Whitney Houston.

BRAGMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I spend a lot of time doing that. It's just a really sad night, Don. There's -- you know, we're all kind of shocked but nobody's really surprised.

LEMON: You know, I said, Howard, that this is I never thought that I would be doing this but in the back of everyone's mind, we always thought that there would be possibly a bad end or something tragic that would come out of this because -- and we don't know the cause of death. As Dr. Drew said, we're just sort of speculating here, but to die at 48, one wonders what the circumstances were behind it, correct?

BRAGMAN: No, absolutely. I mean, I don't think there's a lot of real question. But, I mean, I think a couple issues tonight is give our condolences to the family. She's got a large musical family and you know, to --

LEMON: I need to get to a press conference now, Howard. Stand by. Let's listen in.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police department, at approximately 3:43 p.m. this afternoon the Beverly Hills police department received an emergency call from the Beverly Hilton hotel. It was a medical aid call. Officers arrived on scene in approximately two minutes. The fire department was already on scene, due to the fact they were here for a pre-Grammy award show in the hotel.

When our officers arrived in the hotel room on the fourth floor, the fire department and hotel security were already attempting resuscitation measures. But at 3:55 p.m. this afternoon Whitney Houston was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton hotel. She has been positively identified by friends, family and co-workers that were with her at the hotel and the next kin have already been notified.