One year later, Grammys recall scramble over Whitney Houston death

Sat Feb 9, 2013 9:05am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Grammy host LL Cool J called it a "death in our family" and it was he who suggested starting the Grammy Awards show last year with a prayer for Whitney Houston.

Behind the scenes, Grammy Awards producers had worked all night to re-shape the music industry's biggest night just 24 hours after the drowning death of the troubled superstar in a Beverly Hills hotel.

Producers and musicians tell the tale in a one-hour TV special "The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family" to be broadcast on CBS on Saturday on the eve of this year's Grammy Awards ceremony.

The singer, known both for her soaring ballads and well-chronicled history of drug abuse, is also expected to be remembered at the annual pre-Grammy party hosted in Beverly Hills on Saturday by her mentor, record producer Clive Davis.

Earlier this week, Madame Tussauds museum unveiled four different wax figures of Houston at various stages of her 35-year career that will go on display at its attractions in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Houston, 48, was found face down in a bathtub on February 11 2012, in what authorities later called an accidental drowning due to cocaine use and heart disease.

"My heart started racing. I started hyper-ventilating," recalls Grammy Awards show director Louis J. Horvitz in the TV special, as news reached Grammy rehearsals last year of Houston's death.

Producers realized immediately that despite months in the planning, the live TV ceremony the next day would have to reflect Houston's passing.   Continued...

Whitney Houston performs at the Pre-Grammy Gala & Salute to Industry Icons with Clive Davis honoring David Geffen held in Beverly Hills, California, in this February 12, 2011, file photo. Houston died February 11, 2012 of accidental drowning due to the "effects" of heart disease and cocaine use, according to the official autopsy report. REUTERS/Phil McCarten/Files