Some stars are stars because, well, they just are. They are not stars for being edgy, rebellious, pioneering, political, or even controversial. Their talent, their ability, their sheer force of personality makes them so. And so it was with Whitney Houston, who has passed shockingly early at the age of just 48, in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
The speculation has already started over what caused her death, and this blog will not be going there. Suffice it to say that the rumour mill is going into overdrive, and after the rumours will come the pundits, all chasing after the filling of yet more column inches with their theories, judgments, moralising and faux regret at a career supposedly racked by domestic unrest and drug use.
We know what to expect, as we know the agenda of the various parts of the Fourth Estate, in the UK at least. The prosecution, led by the mid-market righteous, will warn of the horrors of currently illegal drugs, using Ms Houston’s death as some kind of frightener with which their hacks and editors will imagine that they can move readers firmly back to the straight and narrow.
In the meantime, the singer’s achievements will be marginalised or forgotten: an utterly unforgettable voice, an ability to take on almost any song and make it her own, a compelling on-stage presence. Add to that the tens of millions of albums sold, the many film appearances, the influence on those who came after her, although few reached as high as she did.
Yes, illegal drugs can be very, very dangerous – because they are produced by organised criminality, which does not care about what happens to the poor souls who buy and use the end product. Fame and fortune are no bar to the side effects of adulteration and chemical enhancement. And, in any case, Ms Houston had by all accounts freed herself from the grip of addiction.
But before the pundits arrive en masse, consider this: somewhere in the world right now, someone is listening to Whitney Houston for the first time, while all over that world, many others are listening to I Will Always Love You one more time, while sobbing quietly into their hankies.
The defence rests.