Sad to read that one of the greatest singers ever, Whitney Houston, died today in Los Angeles.
I expect the following days, weeks and months -- starting with tonight's impromptu radio station memorials and tomorrow night's GRAMMY Awards broadcast -- will be filled with updates and tabloid details on Houston's career and demise. Fortunately most are remembering her beautiful music and celebrating it.
Like millions of other middle schoolers of the mid-1980s, I first heard Whitney Houston via "How Will I Know" on the radio and on MTV. We may not have known what "You Give Good Love" really meant, but we knew that lady could sing.
With my best friend Jason, we used to give his sister a hard time for crying to "Greatest Love Of All" and we can probably still sing all the lyrics to "Saving All My Love For You," All At Once," "Hold Me," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)." Other greats of course include "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go."
After shaking hands with Peter Ueberroth and Clay Bennett at a June 1988 fundraising party for the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City, "Love Will Save The Day" was the song playing when I tried to dance (age 15) with a cute girl at the event (sadly, love did not save the day, but it's still a good song).
Then came Whitney Houston's "One Moment In Time" during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Who could forget those iconic images of Korea's games, with NBC's montage of medallists including Florence Griffith Joyner, Carl Lewis, Phoebe Mills and others in slow motion while Whitney delivered the goods?
"One Moment In Time" remains the gold standard in Olympic theme songs.
Other favorites include "Run To You," "I Will Always Love You," "I Have Nothing," her Super Bowl rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Do You Hear What I Hear."
It would have been so cool to see/hear Whitney Houston perform live. The closest I got was in Torino during the 2006 Winter Olympics, during which she performed at the nightly concert Live Site series (sadly, I heard it was a terrible concert, with U.S. media nearly banned from attending).
During all the time Houston lived in Atlanta, there was only one in-person sighting -- we thought we spotted Whitney in the backstage area of the Atlanta Olympic Village disco hall at Georgia Tech when Bobby Brown "performed" for the athletes (the concert was loud and a let-down, and still not sure why they could not entice Whitney on the stage to sing "One Moment In Time" for the Olympic athletes in attendance.
Her appearance on "Saturday Night Live" remains hilarious.
I must admit to cracking jokes about Whitney Houston's problems, and her clip on reality TV ("Kiss my ass!") still cracks me up. Just the other day (seriously, within the last week) I forwarded the Nancy Reagan anti-drug music video "Stop The Madness" to a colleague, and there Whitney was, the pre-diva, pre-GRAMMY, pre-"How Will I Know" Whitney Houston singing the lyrics "Everyone's a loser in this deadly game that's played." Interesting that Bobby Brown also appeared in the video as part of The New Edition (did they meet there as teens?).
If only she had followed the simple message of that Just Say No-themed production, "Stop The Madness."
Photo via Amazon, album cover photo by Garry Cross
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