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Whitney Houston death: police investigation underway
Her body was discovered shortly before 4pm in her room at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. She was there for the annual pre-Grammys party hosted by her career mentor, music executive Clive Davis.
The cause of Houston's death is unclear. Although detectives are not treating it as suspicious, they have launched an investigation.
Mark Rosen, a police spokesman, described the scene to reporters: "They found her unresponsive. They attempted life-saving resuscitation measures, unfortunately they were not successful and at approximately 3.55pm Whitney Houston was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
"The cause of death was unclear, he said, adding that investigators had begun work in the hotel room almost immediately.
It is not known exactly who discovered the body although Houston was travelling with an entourage including family, friends and a number of staff, Mr Rosen added.
Celebrity website TMZ reported that the singer appeared to have drowned in her bath.
Houston was due to appear at the LA gala of music's biggest occasion - the Grammy Awards - and had also been at rehearsals for the show, coaching singers Brandy and Monica.
It is believed she had been due to perform at the annual pre-Grammy party of Clive Davis, at the Beverly Hilton, but was found hours before it began.
Organisers of the Grammys have said Houston will be remembered at the awards in a tribute by Jennifer Hudson.
The death of the singing legend has prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief, with tributes paid by some of the biggest names in the music industry.
Following the news, fellow celebrities and contemporaries lined up to pay their respects, with describing the star as a "legend" and an "icon".
Music mogul Simon Cowell described Houston as "one of the greatest singers of all time", and said he expected the Grammys to become a tribute to the "trailblazer" and "legend".
In a tribute on Twitter, her godmother Aretha Franklin said: "I just can't talk about it now, It's so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen. My heart goes out to Cissy, her daughter Bobby Kris, her family and Bobby."
In a statement, country singer Dolly Parton said: "Mine is only one of millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston."
At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry and one of the world's best-selling artists. Among her hits were How Will I Know, Saving All My Love for You and I Will Always Love You.
She won multiple Grammys including album and record of the year.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies such as The Bodyguard. But by the end of her career, drug use took its toll as her record sales plummeted and her voice became raspy and hoarse.
But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanour and bizarre public appearances.
She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills. "The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC in a 2002 interview with then-husband Bobby Brown by her side.
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.
Her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Brown ended in divorce in 2007.
Which is your favourite song by Whitney Houston?
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- I Will Always Love You
- Saving All My Love For You
- How Will I Know
- Greatest Love Of All
- I Wanna Dance with Somebody
- Didn't We Almost Have It All
- So Emotional
- Where Do Broken Hearts Go
- One Moment in Time
- It's Not Right but It's Okay
- My Love Is Your Love
- I'm Every Woman
Click in the gallery below to see Whitney Houston's life in pictures
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