Whitney Houston: Everything you need to know about the music icon’s death twelve years later

Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012, the night before the Grammy Awards. Her autopsy revealed how the star could’ve died. Let’s find out the cause of her death.

Whitney Houston death autopsy report How did Whitney Houston die?
© Suzie Gibbons/Getty_Images
Whitney Houston death autopsy report How did Whitney Houston die?

Even after more than a decade, many music fans have always questioned: How did Whitney Huston die?

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Born on August 9, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney went on to become one of the most iconic singers. She was nicknamed ‘The Voice’ and signed her first record label at only 19 years old, reports Style Caster. Her first two albums reached number one on Billboard 200 and are among the best-selling albums of all time.

Part of a select few artists who reached heights of grand success, but also tragic endings, her triumph knew no bounds as she went on to become one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

The singing sensation sold more than 200 million records worldwide and holds the record as the only music artist in history to have seven consecutive number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the world was shockingly deprived of her music in 2012, when Whitney passed away tragically—just three years after the unexpected death of Micheal Jackson.

How did Whitney Huston die?

According to The Express, Whitney was found dead in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton hotel room on February 11, 2012. The 48-year-old was at the Beverly Hilton hotel for Clive Davis' pre-Grammys party and complained of a sore throat hours before her death.

It is understood the music icon passed away from accidental drowning and her drug usage aided the process. According to the 42-page coroner's report, ‘cocaine and metabolites’ contributed to her passing. Other substances found in her body were marijuana, Xanax (anti-anxiety medication), Benadryl (allergy medication) and Flexeril (muscle relaxer), reports PeopleMagazine. However, none of these drugs were the cause of her death.

Los Angeles County chief coroner Craig Harvey confirmed that the amount of cocaine in Whitney’s body was ‘not necessarily a lethal level’ but her death was ‘complicated by chronic cocaine use and heart disease.’ The reports also revealed that there was water in Whitney’s lungs suggesting the cause of her death may be from drowning. Craig shared:

There was water found in her lungs that indicated to us that she was alive when she was submerged underwater.
According to our tests, the level of cocaine was not necessarily a lethal level of cocaine. But her death was complicated by chronic cocaine use and heart disease.

Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter told People Magazine that her death could be because of two reasons. He explained:

She could've passed out first due to the intoxication from the cocaine, or she could've had a heart attack and then drowned. It's probably one of those two scenarios.

Coroner officials have previously revealed that many prescription pill bottles were found in her room. But none of them were found in ‘alarming amounts’ indicating that her drowning was, in fact, accidental or due to a heart attack.

How and what went on at the time of Whitney Huston’s death?

After finding her unresponsive and submerged in the bathtub of her Suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, police officials announced her death at 3.55 pm. Reports confirm that the singer was perfectly fine when she spoke to her mother at 3:15 p.m. However, less than half an hour later at 3:43 p.m., she was found unresponsive in the bathtub by her assistant.

Police officials were already present in the hotel for the preparation for Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party that evening and reached Whitney’s suite in less than two minutes. People Magazine reports that officials attempted CPR on her but were unable to revive her. Whitney was buried on February 19 at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., alongside her father. Her memorial was a star-studded event that took place a day before her burial.

Meanwhile, Clive Davis still hosted his pre-Grammy party in the hotel despite her body still being in the building until 12:45 a.m. At the start of his party, Clive paid tribute to Whitney. He shared:

I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight even though she wasn't scheduled to perform.
Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence and gave so many memorable performances here over the years.

He added that Whitney’s family gave the American record producer the green light to ‘carry on’ with his party.

How was Whitney Houston’s health at the time of her death?

Apart from being known for her incredible voice and stunning beauty, Whitney went on to be well-known for her drug addictions as well. Whitney’s lifestyle of drinking and drugs had taken such a toll on her body and voice that she was found with 11 missing teeth. It was a normal occurrence for the music star, as her sister-in-law Tina Brown said in 2006:

She loses them in the house and when she's out on drug binges. They cost $6000 and the dentist has to keep FedEx'ing her a new set.

Reportedly Whitney used a special dental piece, called a maxillary dental prosthesis, to hide her teeth problems. What’s more? At the time of her death, her body was found with a needle mark on her inner left elbow and signs of breast implants. The coroner also revealed a wig had been sewn onto her real hair. Surprisingly, her eyebrows were sparse but her hair was full, wavy and showed no signs of balding.

Whitney Houston’s legacy

Whitney’s legacy was such that days after her death, many celebs and influential figures paid her tribute online. This included Mariah Carey, who earns an insane amount of money from 'All I Want For Christmas Is You', and Oprah Winfrey.

Even a decade after her passing, Whitney is still regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time. The music icon's legacy was immortalised in the 2022 biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Actress Naomi Ackle, who played Whitney Houston, hoped that the singer would have been happy with the way she was portrayed.

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Sources Used

Style Caster: How Did Whitney Houston Die? She Was Found With ‘Water in Her Lungs’ Hours Before She Was Set to Perform

The Express: Whitney Houston's tragic autopsy report from sewn on wig to losing 11 teeth to addiction

People Magazine: Whitney Houston's Death: The Details Behind Her Sudden Passing

People Magazine: Whitney Houston Died from Accidental Drowning

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