BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
Aren't famous singers supposed to have handlers who keep them out of trouble, like the character Jonah Hill played in Get Him to the Greek? Why wasn't someone like that looking after Whitney Houston?
—Concerned, via the inbox
This question feeds into the myth that someone could have somehow prevented Houston's death—stopped her from taking whatever she took (or didn't take) before she headed to the bathroom and filled up the tub. It's delusional thinking...
... fed by entitled stars like Chaka Khan. According to our own breaking news on Houston, Khan blames others for Houston's death, saying that whoever invited Houston to the Grammy festivities should have somehow kept her away from bad influences. Well, I am told by my music industry sources, if Khan thinks that record labels are stocked with paid babysitters who do nothing but sit around waiting for ways to keep the talent sober and healthy, Khan is living in an alternate universe.
Your question actually angered my go-to music industry expert, who used to work in the marketing area of a major, major record label and knows that world better than most. Here are the basics you should know:
1. Stars generally travel with their own hand-picked teams, not people selected by labels. "Think of bodyguards, their own management, stylists, assistants," my source explains. Those people may be paid by the label, but they are hired or approved by the talent.
2. If the label does send a representative to work with a traveling artist, that person is usually a marketing director type, someone in charge of promotions, not personal health. "Those people have 10 artists that they have to work with at a time," I am told. "I know from personal experience that those people start work at 7 in the morning and are on their BlackBerrys until midnight every day. They are some of the most harried people in the business."
3. Labels do not have other people on staff dedicated to client health, and that likely includes Sony Music Worldwide, the label that employs Clive Davis, who hosted the party that Houston was supposed to attend last weekend. "There is not a floating babysitter at a label that you assign to an artist to make sure they don't take drugs," my expert explains. Yes, some artists have sober coaches, and some labels may even generously pay for those coaches, but again, such people must be hired and approved by the talent. In other words, the talent has to want the babysitter to be there.
4. Let's remember that Houston died in a hotel room, a place in which even the most trusted members of an entourage are rarely welcome. "The only people staying in a room with the talent would be a significant other or children," my source informs. "A major ego usually does not want to share space with a mere mortal." Even Houston's bodyguard wouldn't exactly be welcome while the lady took a bath.
Conclusion: It's deeply unfair, especially this soon after Houston's death, when so many facts have yet to be confirmed, to blame anyone for her passing.