Whitney Houston, Rock Star?

• Maybe if by “rock” you mean something else entirely

• In a 1998 interview, the heat was on

A gorgeous visage . . . revealing what?

This is not about Whitney Houston’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It’s just triggered by it; it reminded me I have a CNN interview I did with her from 1998.

I’m not going to join in the perennial argument over who deserves to be in the Hall or not. That’s always kind of bored me.

The Hall of Fame itself was exciting. I attended the first fifteen or so of the induction dinners at the Waldorf Astoria and saw some amazing jams, heard some great speeches. I also covered the selection of Cleveland as the Hall’s site, its construction, and its opening day. That’s a story for another time.

Watch this piece. Look closely at Houston.

When the camera was shut down, the lights were turned off and Houston left the room, my crew and I conferred. We couldn’t help but to notice the thin sheen of sweat on her upper lip. (It isn’t too apparent in the video.) Granted, the room might have been hot. My shiny forehead tends to attest to that.

The consensus among us that evening, though, was that she was most likely coked up. (Maybe “rock cocaine,” get it?) Certainly, her drug problems had been documented extensively by that point in her life. And denied regularly. When, 14 years later, she died . . the toxicology report showed coke in her system.

What a talent. What a shame.

One could say that if the rock and roll lifestyle traditionally includes substance abuse, then Whitney Houston was hall of fame eligible.


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