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Whitney Houston was record mogul Clive Davis’ masterpiece, and she died in the hours leading up to what was to be a night together at his famed pre-Grammy Awards party.
She was even to be Davis’ date at the bash, sources said.
The famed music executive found her as a teenager and molded her into a chart-busting superstar. He stood by her through deep declines, marital woes and worse, and was the force behind multiple comebacks.
When she was catapulting to superstardom in the late 1980s, Davis was personally supervising every song, every arrangement and every career move in a way that was extraordinarily hands-on for the president of a major record label.
If he was an unusually intense mentor, Houston by all indications took his guidance willingly and gratefully. In a business known for backstabbing, Davis and Houston had a relationship that went far beyond the normal record executive and artist.
“I call him my father in the industry, because he is, he guides me,” Houston told “Access Hollywood” during a promotional tour for her last CD in 2009.
The relationship began when Houston was a teenager singing background vocals in her mother Cissy’s cabaret act.
As the story goes, Davis was encouraged to see the show. He did, and recording history soon followed.
“The time I first saw her singing in her mother’s act at a club called Sweetwaters right here in Manhattan . . . it was such a stunning impact,” Davis told Diane Sawyer in 2009 on “Good Morning America.”
“To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song, I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine.”
Davis has guided the careers of some of the music world’s greatest stars, but none seemed to draw the attention or acclaim of Houston.
A day before she died, Davis told CNN’s Piers Morgan that Houston was on the all-time-greats list of singers.
“X Factor” creator and judge Simon Cowell told CNN on Saturday that Davis was like a father to Houston.
“Clive took his time with her,” Cowell said. “He never tried to force her to rush something out. He took very, very special care with Whitney.”
He said Davis would sit in the audience and watch all of her performances.
Talking about her 2009 comeback, Davis said, “Music runs through her; it was part of her life since she was born.”
The Houston music that most of the world remembers, though, from “The Greatest Love of All” to “I Will Always Love You,” was largely shaped by Davis.