Legendary pop singer Whitney Houston dies

Los Angeles: Whitney Houston, the Grammy winning legendary singer-actress and heart throb of the 80`s, whose once sparkling career was torn apart by drug abuse and personal problems, was found dead at a hotel here. She was 48.

The best-selling artist, whose incredible talent was discovered at an early age, was pronounced dead at 3:55 p m (local time Saturday) at the Beverly Hilton despite resuscitation efforts, a police spokesman said.

Beverly Hills Police Lt Mark Rosen said there were "no obvious signs of criminal intent" and that the cause of her death is being investigated. Houston`s bodyguard found her body, said Courtney Barnes, publicist for hip-hop artist Ray J, who was dating the pop diva. Houston died on the eve of the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

According to her official website, Houston sold more than 170 million albums, singles and videos over her career. But she also struggled with addiction problems over the years.

Houston`s background was steeped in soul and gospel music. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was gospel singer and she was cousin to singer Dionne Warwick, and goddaughter to Aretha Franklin.

Whitney was born on August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey. She began singing in church and then in the night clubs of New York where the famed music producer Clive Davis reportedly spotted her after 20 years, signing her on the spot. She was a model before being signed by Arista Records, according to her website.

Her debut album in 1985, `Whitney Houston`, became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release. Her second studio album, Whitney (1987), became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Houston, as per the Gunniess World Records, is the most awarded female act of all time who has won two Emmy, six Grammy, 30 Billboard Music and 22 American Music awards out of her 415 career awards.

Houston was set to appear in this year`s "Sparkle," a remake of the 1976 hit, which was loosely based on the story of The Supremes. It was her first movie role since 1996`s "The Preacher`s Wife".

Houston had a high-profile and tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown, a former "New Edition" star who has had multiple brushes with the law. The couple appeared together in the mid-2000s on the reality show "Being Bobby Brown".

Her success stretched to movies, and she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale". She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey. But by the end of her career, Houston became a shocking tale of the hazards of drug use. While her album sales plummeted, her image was tarred by erratic behaviour.

She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her voice was no longer able to hit the high notes. It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.

In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," "You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles. Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".

The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her generation`s most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners".