Whitney Houston remembered -- Sean 'Diddy' Combs
Hip-hop artist and Bad Boy Records label founder Sean “Diddy” Combs said he “literally [was] in a state of shock” Saturday afternoon when he learned of Whitney Houston’s death.
He was preparing for his role in that evening's festivities and, like many others who took the stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy Awards party, wrestled over whether to attend or stay home.
For Combs, the deciding factor was his overriding memory of Houston’s “natural, positive spirit,” which he said “made me kind of get dressed and hopefully made you guys get dressed” and proceed with the event.
Here is the text of Combs’ remarks to the audience:
"We see each other a lot but don’t get a chance to really connect and tell each other how much we appreciate, how much we love and respect each other. I want to give all my love and respect to all my peers that are here. I want to say it tonight, because tomorrow night as you see is not promised.
"Tonight I was like you guys: Am I gonna go, am I not gonna go? Is it right? What should I do? I called up Clive and I spoke to Clive, and I just wanted to make sure he was all right, because he’s one of the kindest, most beautiful people that I know. [Applause]
"Then I was thinking about the time I got honored with a BET Award and I sat next to Whitney Houston. And if you ever sat next to Whitney Houston anywhere, you already know that you’re in for a good time.
"Whenever you saw Whitney, she always hit you with that beautiful smile, she always hit you with that incredible energy, she gave you that hug, that grandma hug that shook your body, that real love. So that made me kind of get dressed, and hopefully made you guys get dressed in the MEMORY OF her natural, positive spirit.
"I also called [veteran music executive] Clarence Avant, who most of us call when we’re in trouble. I called him on this occasion because I know how wise he is. He said, ‘A lot of us profess to believe in God. If we truly believe in God, then we should celebrate the life of Whitney Houston.’ (applause)
"Whitney Houston, simply put, had the greatest voice in the world. She was a gift of God. [applause] Hearing her sing was like listening to magic. If it wasn’t for Clive Davis, the world may not have known ... that miraculous voice.
"Whitney Houston sold over 170 million records worldwide, DVDs and CDs combined. Today we didn’t just lose one of our fellow artists, we truly lost an angel.
"Any time we think of Whitney, we have to remember that positivity that she gave us. Whenever she performed she performed at 5,000%, she always gave love. She was not a hater, she was a congratulator all the time.
"When I found out on the news today, I was literally in a state of shock. I immediately thought of ... her mother Cissy, her father, her daughter, her family and friends -- and Clive Davis.
"It’s rare in this industry that you get somebody to live and die with you. Imagine going through the ups and downs and having somebody to stand by your side when the whole world is turning their back on you. Somebody who believes in you. Somebody who’s going to be there in your darkest hour for you.
"That’s the type of man Clive Davis is. And that’s why all of us are up here tonight, and also in honor of Whitney Houston and Diana Ross, [a 2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient] let’s give them a round of applause please."
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Only hours after Whitney Houston's death, Sean "Diddy" Combs gestures about the bear hugs he would get from Houston to the audience gathered for the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hilton. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times