Whitney Houston's Death and the Grammy Awards Scramble: Timeline of a Tragedy
5:48 PM PDT 8/3/2012 by Sarah Lindstedt, Chris Godley
The 54th annual Grammy Awards will go down in TV history not just as a result of its six 2012 Emmy nominations, but because, in the wake of Whitney Houston's unexpected death, the telecast pulled off the impossible: reconstructing a run-of-show some 36 hours before the curtain lifted. The experience inspired a mini-documentary whose title is especially apt: "A Death in the Family." THR looks at a timeline of the 36 hours leading up to the broadcast, which gave new meaning to the concept of "banding together."
Saturday, Feb. 11 (4:00 p.m.): Just moments after Whitney Houston’s sudden death at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Adele rehearsed for her Grammy Awards performance of "Rolling in the Deep" at the Staples Center. The British singer wasn't wearing makeup during the afternoon run-through, but for the broadcast (pictured here), her beauty and unbelievable vocal chops immediately proved why she was the year's biggest seller.
Saturday, Feb. 11 (6:00 p.m.):Jennifer Hudson received a phone call en route to Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy gala, being held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Whitney Houston was staying. Though the Oscar winner had always intended on attending both black tie galas, plans were changed at a moment's notice as Hudson was asked to perform a tribute to Houston the next night. Her moving rendition of “I Will Always Love You” brought the crowd to their feet and to tears.
Beverly Hilton, Crime Scene
Saturday, Feb. 11 (6:15 p.m.): As A-list artists like Alicia Keys, Britney Spears and Tony Bennett began to arrive at the Beverly Hilton, along with hundreds of guests and media, local police had to cordone off part of the hotel as an active crime scene.
Saturday, Feb. 11 (8:15 p.m.): Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, had the difficult task of addressing guests at the pre-Grammy party just hours after Whitney Houston's death, but it was P. Diddy who perhaps put it best, telling the VIP crowd, “Today, we didn't just lose one of our fellow artists, we lost an angel. Anytime we think of Whitney, we have to remember that positivity that she gave us. Whenever she performed, she would give 5,000 percent. She was not a hater, she was a congratulator -- all the time.”
LL Cool J
Saturday, Feb. 11 (8:45 p.m.): Grammy host LL Cool J, who had been sick the week leading up to the event, went off-script while addressing the sadness and pressure he was feeling on a very emotional night. Indeed, it was his suggestion some 24 hours earlier to open the show with a prayer.
Saturday, Feb. 11 (11:34 p.m.): As producer of the Grammy Awards telecast, Ken Ehrlich left rehearsal late on Saturday and was immediately greeted by a CNN film crew on the street outside Staples Center. Throughout the night and into early morning, changes continued to be made to the show's script.
Saturday, Feb. 11 (11:55 p.m.): Changes to the Grammy broadcast were coming fast and furious and included a request from Paul McCartney some 36 hours before the show's start. That's when he called to ask if he could end the show with the musical medley from side 2 of The Beatles' Abbey Road. And in the end...
Paul McCartney Wants Bruce Springsteen to Join Finale Jam
Saturday, Feb. 11 (11:55 p.m.): During his rehearsal with Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh, Paul McCartney decided that Bruce Springsteen should join the night's final all-star jam. Talk about a dream come true, in an interview, both Grohl and Walsh expressed how neither of them would be playing music today without the tremendous influence of The Beatles.
Bruce Springsteen Meets Paul McCartney
Sunday, Feb. 12 (10:30 a.m.):Bruce Springsteen met Paul McCartney for the first time during dress rehearsal on the morning of the broadcast.
Group Performs Finale for First Time
Sunday, Feb. 12 (2:15 p.m.):Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney delivered the classic Abbey Road medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight" and "The End." Grohl said that playing alonside these musicians is like standing next to Mount Rushmore.
Bruce Springsteen Opens
Sunday, Feb. 12 (5:00 p.m.): Bruce Springsteen opened the 54th Annual Grammy Awards with the poignant rocker, "We Take Care of Our Own."
LL Cool J Leads in Prayer
Sunday, Feb. 12 (5:04 p.m.): Host LL Cool J led the audience in a prayer as the likes of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett bowed their heads in silence and respect to recently departed R&B queen Whitney Houston.
Katy Perry Performs
Sunday, Feb. 12 (6:30 p.m.): Katy Perry performed a medley of her hits during the telecast, including "E.T." and "Part of Me." The show featured a total of 19 musical performances, including bows by Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Carrie Underwood, among others.
Jennifer Hudson's Tribute to Whitney
Sunday, Feb. 12 (7:04 p.m.): Wearing her heart on her sleeves during her gut-wrenching a cappella performance of "I Will Always Love You," Jennifer Hudson received a standing ovation for her a tribute to the life and career of Whitney Houston.