The Life of Whitney Houston: A Timeline (Aug. 9, 1963-Feb. 11, 2012)

A look back at legendary six-time Grammy award-winning singer's life

By Sierra Marquina Feb 12, 2012 6:22 AMTags
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Pop-music icon Whitney Houston shockingly and tragically passed away Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel, on the eve of the 54th annual Grammy Awards. While fans and artists alike pay tribute to the singer via Twitter and Facebook, E! takes a look back at the ups and downs of the legendary singer's life.

Aug. 9, 1963: Whitney Elizabeth Houston is born in Newark, New Jersey to mother Cissy Houston, a noted gospel singer, and Army serviceman and entertainment exec John Russell Houston Jr.

1977: At the tender age of 14 Whitney becomes a backup singer on the Michael Zager Band's single "Life's a Party." Zager offers her a recording contact, but her mother Cissy rejects the offer, wanting Whitney to finish school first.

1979: At 15, Whitney Houston sings background vocals on Chaka Khan's smash "I'm Every Woman"—the jam she would later turn into a monster hit for herself on the acclaimed soundtrack album to The Bodyguard

1980: Whitney's not only an in-demand singer, she's a looker as well. The singer begins modeling after being spotted by a photographer at Carnegie Hall. Whitney is featured in Seventeen magazine, becoming one of the first women of color to grace the mag's cover. 

1983: After being spotted by Gerry Griffith, an A&R rep from Arista Records, the label's head Clive Davis offers Houston a worldwide recording contract. The rest, as they say, is history.

Feb. 14, 1985: Whitney's self-titled debut album drops. Her single "How Will I Know" hits number one and its video introduces Houston to the MTV generation—making her the first African-American female artist to receive consistent heavy rotation on MTV.

1986: Whitney's album hits No. 1 on Billboard's year-end charts, making her the first female artist to earn that distinction. Oh, and her debut disc also wins her a Grammy and is dubbed Best Album of 1986 by Rolling Stone.

June 1987: Whitney releases her second album, entitled Whitney. The next year, Houston receives her second Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

1989: Whitney meets R&B singer Bobby Brown at the Soul Train Music Awards (whom she'd later marry in 1992, kicking off a rollercoaster marriage that would last until 2006).

Jan. 27, 1991: Houston performs "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV. Due to the success of her rendition, it's released as a commercial single and reaches the Top 20 on the US Hot 100, making Houston the only act to turn the National Anthem into a pop hit.

July 18, 1992: The singer takes the plunge and ties the knot with Bobby Brown

1992: Whitney takes her voice and movie star looks to the big screen and makes her movie debut in The Bodyguard, which becomes a huge success grossing over $120 million.

1993: Whitney embarks on a worldwide tour and gives birth to her and Bobby Brown's daughter Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown. 

2000: Houston is busted at Hawaii's Kona International Airport for trying to sneak a bag of pot past airport screeners. In happier news, this is the same year Whitney wins the first BET Lifetime Achievement Award for her notable contribution to African-American music. 

2002: After rumors the singer had passed away, a lively Houston admits to ABC News' Diane Sawyer that, yes, she has done drugs: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs. She has "partied," but says now the party is over.

December 2003: Whitney's perpetually troubled husband Bobby Brown is busted for allegedly roughing up Houston during a domestic dispute. Houston later says the whole thing was a misunderstanding.

March 2004: Houston enters herself into a rehab facility to deal with a substance abuse problem—but leaves after five days. Her rep insists that all is well, and that Houston simply prefers to continue the program on an outpatient basis. She spends the next 30 days accompanied by a chaperone.

March 2005: A year later, the songstress reenters rehab.

October 2006: Just one year after their troubled love life is chronicled on Bravo's Being Bobby Brown, the singer files for divorce from Brown after 14 years of marriage. The R&B couple's divorce is made final in Orange County, California, six months later. Houston is granted full legal and physical custody of the their daughter, Bobbi Kristina—a decision that would soon be battled out further in court.

2008: The singer's court days aren't over following her divorce from Brown, as the songstress' stepmother claims she wrongfully kept her late dad's $1 million insurance payout.

2010: While on tour attempting a comeback, Houston appears to be going down a slippery downward slope when she cancels numerous shows due to illness

May 2011: Houston returns to rehab for the third time, voluntarily checking herself into an outpatient  program.

October 2011: Houston's camp blames exhaustion for a fight with a flight attendant during a trip to Detroit. 

Despite three stints in rehab and diva moments here and there, 2011 is a bounceback year for Houston. She  works on her first movie in more than a decade—Sparkle. It's a remake of a 1970s singing-group drama, costarring Jordin Sparks, which completed filming in November. Sparkle is due in theaters in August 2012.

Feb. 11, 2012: In Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards, the pop icon is pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.