Tag Archive: Whitney Houston death


This was the year that “was” because most of the celebs who kicked the bucket were either ones I grew-up watching on (old black and white) television, or who I met during the past twenty years.

Ok, lets name them in no special order: Chuck Brown (“the Soul Searchers” and composer of “Bustin’ Loose!”), Sherman Hemsley, Whitney Houston, “Heavy” D (who actually passed late in 2011 but makes this list anyway because it was so close to the “holidays” one year ago), Don Cornelius, [the Bee Gee’s] Robin Gibb; Donna Summer (shocker), Bob Welch, Mike Wallace [CBS TV], Donald “Duck” Dunn, (NFL footballer) Junior Seau [suicide by gun], Dick Clark, Jimmy Ellis (The Trammps lead singer), Davy Jones [The Monkees], Gary Carter (former Met and Montreal Expo baseball catcher), Etta James, Richard Dawson, Andy Williams (ok, he was “up there” in age), Phyllis Diller (what an incredibly wacky laugh she had, lol); Larry (“Major Anthony Nelson”/”J.R. Ewing”) Hagman [I was a HUGE fan of his], Marvin Hamlish, Chad Everett [Medical Center] and so many more stars of my comeuppance on TV, movies and in music that left us behind here in the physical world in 2012.

I still cannot believe I live in a world without an alive Donna Summer! That one blindsided me – didn’t it you? As did Dwight “Heavy” D’s demise. At one point early in the year, it was like stars close to me were dropping by the day…or week! I felt like a fighter on the ropes getting pummeled by a right, then a left, then another right-hand punch!! “Wow…”

I met “Heavy D” (Dwight Arrington Myers) while an Attendance Teacher at Mt. Vernon (NY) High School, where he, and other budding Hip-Hop stars like Pete Rock and Al B. Sure also attended in the early 1990s. I happened to have his “yo, you better show-up for a few more classes so that you can walk the [graduation day] stage” letter. It was part of my job to hand-deliver these letters to the homes of pupils in danger of “not graduating” for lack of a class or two and I got to ring the Myers doorbell that early June morning. Going on about my life and business of getting back into radio, the next thing I knew, I was getting his 12-inch vinyls on the MCA label in my DJ record pool promo packages! $(KGrHqNHJDUE+O,FNWnYBP24O-zuVg~~60_35

I analyzed the death of (which did not surprise me) and reminisced about the time I met and dance with Whitney Houston in a blog in this space last spring, shortly after it tragically happened. You can revisit it here: <a href=”https://achilliad.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/the-night-i-danced-with-somebody-who/” target=”_blank”> Nope, the real surprise singer death for me was that of my ole college roommate’s schoolboy crush, Donna Summer! As I have stated many times (like in an above paragraph here), I still cannot believe I live in a world without an alive and singing Donna Summer! There was no hint of illness leaked to the “TMC”‘s of the media, just she was suddenly DEAD! I remember flying back to Nashville from NYC on a Southwest flight in the spring of 2002 when I found myself engrossed in a conversation with her drummer on many of her greatest hits! I can’t recall his name, but I can see him plain-as-day; a white cat who was the first to tell me that Ms. Summer had a home in Nashville of all places and to my surprise at the time! “MacArthur’s Park melting in the dark”, indeed! Here is the cover of “Once Upon A Time”, one of my absolute faves of her double-pocket albums on the Casablanca label:

I also wrote about another, even sadder stunner of a death; that of Don Cornelius, former host and creator of the “Black American Bandstand” as we used to call it in our college dorm of the early 1970s, “Soul Train” https://achilliad.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/i-might-have-to-pull-a-don-cornelieus-on-you/ from the perspective of self-deliverance by Black American men at the time. Looking back and for this year in musical deaths review, the only eerie thing about the soft-spoken Mr. Cornelius’ death to me personally is that he was in love with and had an apparent failed relationship with a woman from Ukraine…”Shut up!” lol 225870-viktoria-chapman-cornelius She wasn’t worth killing himself over and the man did suffer from brain cancer which must be a bitch! Check the look on his face, lol!—>

Which segue-ways oddly into; and finally, the “hits” just keep on coming” as the Top 40 radio DJs used to say, right til the end of 2012. This one hits me personally, as the news arrived from my beloved Russian/Ukrainian bride-to-be, that her Daddy passed away a few days ago here in December. I am not only sorry for her and her surviving Mum, but that I never got to meet this man who was so great as to instill in Nina a fantastic appreciation for American Blues music! He is already greatly missed – although we are relieved that he is out of his physical misery and pain.

Here is a GREAT blog that lists famous 2013 deaths: http://www.ranker.com/list/celebrity-deaths-2012-famous-deaths-list/famous-celebrity-deaths-list?page=7&format=BLOG

Overall, 2012 feels like an unsuccessful year to me as I am still not under the same roof with my sweet darling dear. At least I am geographically closer to her and it must be the very uncomfortable step I suffered to take to get where I need to be ultimately – with Nina – I had to leave Tennessee. However, until we reside in the same zip code, no year will be a “good” year so it absolutely must happen in 2013; however, I digress…

So, which celebrity death hit you closest to your heart in 2012?

Somewhere, a photographer or record company photo portfolio has a picture of [the now late] Whitney Houston, Clive Davis, actor James Woods and me from the night I fell out of “crush” with a songstress.

In December of 1991, I was the Attendance Teacher (spelled “truant officer”) for the Special Ed kids at a high school just north of New York City, who still had his heart set on being back on the radio as a DJ as I had been for the past fifteen years at that juncture. All of my co-teachers and supervisors knew this about me, and it is probably why I they let me leave work early that afternoon so I could go home, shower, prep and get clean for the Whitney Houston album release party that one of my record promotion friends of the day, Ashleigh Sanford, of Arista Records, invited me to.

Her recent tragically and apparently un-timed/un-planned death reminded me that I had not included this episode of my “famous” life in the memoir book I published last year. So now you know there will be a “part two” as long as I stay alive to write it.
Ya want the “juicy” stuff: That night, I arrived solo at Tatou restaurant by day and nightclub by night back then, which my memory tells me is on East 50th near Park or Madison Avenues in Manhattan (my favorite rock in the world so far) New York City.
That night the lamb roast dinner I slurped was exquisite! I met pro footballers Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants, Randall Cunningham of the Philadelphia Eagles (who the tabloids had as just having broken-up with Whitney), Ms. “Downtown” Julie Brown who was hosting a late-night music countdown show or something like that at the time, and other celebs like Samuel L Jackson. [Yes I have to ‘name-drop’ so you know I am not bullspittin!lol

After dinner, we migrated upstairs in Tatou, which is a haunt that I used to love to sneak into upon the freebie of my radio station, friend, record company promotion person (as in this night) or just my stone-cold reputation as “Lenny” Bruce. (Yes the door-people thought I was a dead guy). The party experience is intimate there and the “VIP” area accessible for me, an experienced “on-location” reporter. I just knew that I was going to get Ms. Houston to speak with me into my “on-location” voice recorder as I had previous celebs like Freddie Hubbard, Grace Jones and (almost) Chaka Khan and others on this night. After all, that is why my supervisors at the High School gave me the afternoon off!

So suddenly I find myself within the body language of Whitney Houston, who I had to now suddenly summon-up all of the DJ/radio personality bravado I could muster in-order to be able to talk to her like an unruffled professional. This is where my basic boyhood shyness usually reappears, but somehow, maybe because I had on my best double-breasted blue pin-striped suit and felt in the same “club” as all the aforementioned superstars, I was able to step to her, relaxed and confident.

So here is what happened next, in the sequence that I can recall it now, twenty-one years later (but like “yesterday”).
After mingling and working the room as I always did at Tatou,, upstairs and downstairs, I spot Mr. Davis and sashay towards then; Whitney is emerging from the draped, curtained-off VIP towards us. I try to act non-nonchalant like I did not notice her…I get a beverage handed to me by someone of the many I knew at the party…I am introduced to Mr. Woods as Whitney is lingering with Mr. Davis off in my peripheral vision until a photographer suddenly appears and urges us to scrunch together so he can get a shot. We do; he does and then the DJ introduces the strains of Anita Ward’s classic disco hit, “Ring My Bell” to the din. At which point I am talking to Mr. Woods, who walks away and just as magically as I look back to my right, Whitney Houston is like shimmying and looking at me. “C’mon Jimi!” is what I remember what she said sounding like and the next thing I know, I am dancing like I always knew it was going to work-out this way with the “somebody” who sang “With Somebody Who Loves Me!” to Anita Ward music. “How Surreal is this?!”, I thought!

Then just as abruptly as we cavorted Terpsichore, Whitney bounced away from me and when I turned back from one of my famous “spin moves” she was off, mingling back among her adoring fans near the bar.
From that moment, what I noticed that night as I futilely tried to stay within her orbit, were two things that I’ve carried away ever since: Whitney preferred the Hip Hop guys to an “Arsinio hall-style clean” brother like me and that her lexicon was surprisingly impious. Having met her prim and proper Mum, Cissy Houston, one evening at Sweetwaters on Amsterdam Avenue a few years prior, Whitney’s potty mouth surprised me and turned me off, turning my pedestal-infatuation into that of a spectator which must have lasted until last Saturday evening when, at the tale-end of a computer tutor session with my neighbor, we saw the headline on Yahoo. I “didn’t believe it” like many have professed, yet at the same time, I was not surprised.
I guess I will have to write a “part two” or “b-side” to my memoir book. What is your favorite Whitney Houston song or memory?

That night some of us went “along for the ride”; after dancing with and observing her that night, I got off of the ride.
Thank you! Спасибо! for reading.