- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was tarnished by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday on the eve of the Grammy Awards, over which she once reigned. She was 48.

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said Miss Houston was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton.

“There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent,” Lt. Rosen said.

A Los Angeles County coroner’s official said early Sunday that her body had been taken to a morgue. Miss Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said the cause of death was unknown.

Lt. Rosen said police received a 911 call from hotel security about Miss Houston. Paramedics who were already at the hotel because of a Grammy party were not able to resuscitate her, he said.

Miss Houston’s death came on the day before music’s biggest showcase, the Grammys. She will be remembered Sunday in a tribute by Jennifer Hudson, organizers said.

Her longtime mentor, Clive Davis, went ahead with his annual concert at the same hotel where her body was found. He dedicated the evening to her and asked for a moment of silence as a photo of the singer, hands wide open, looking to the sky, appeared on the screen.

Miss Houston was supposed to appear at the gala, and Mr. Davis had told the Associated Press that she would perhaps perform.

“It’s her favorite night of the year … (so) who knows by the end of the evening,” he said.

Miss Houston had been at rehearsals for the show Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The person said Miss Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely, and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

Two days ago, she performed at a pre-Grammy party with singer Kelly Price. Singer Kenny Lattimore hosted the event and said Miss Houston sang the gospel classic “Jesus Loves Me” with Miss Price, her voice registering softly, not with the same power it had at its height.

Mr. Lattimore said Miss Houston was gregarious and was in a good mood, surrounded by friends and family, including daughter Bobbi Kristina.

“She just seemed like she was having a great night that night,” said Mr. Lattimore, who said he was in shock over her death.

Aretha Franklin, her godmother, also said she was stunned.

“I just can’t talk about it now,” Miss Franklin said in a short statement. “It’s so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen.”

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