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Gone But Not Forgotten Bracket

WDAS celebrates the lives of some of the greatest music legends of all time. Who is your favorite? Let us know. Vote now!

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    Barry White, 9/12/1944 - 7/4/2003
    Barry White's larger than life frame was only eclipsed by his larger than life talent. "The Maestro of Love" was at home on "Soul Train", guesting on "The Today Show", playing a showcase on "The Dinah Shore Show" in the 70s, as well as appearing in cartoon form on "The Simpsons". Photo: WireImage
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    White's hits include "Can't Get Enough of Your Love", "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby", and "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me". Photo: WireImage
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    Barry White's classic single "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" was released in 1974 on the Can't Get Enough album.
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    Barry White pictured in 1974 with the Love Unlimited Orchestra, the vocal trio who contributed the cooing background vocals to his million-selling hits and sold-out concerts. Photo: WireImage
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    The Love Unlimited Orchestra's Under the Influence Of... album includes the smash hit instrumental "Love's Theme".
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    Later in his career, White worked with Gerald Levert, Big Daddy Kane, Isaac Hayes, Quincy Jones, Regina Bell, and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Photo: Getty Images
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    A fan holds up I've Got So Much to Give at Barry White's funeral. White died in 2003 from chronic illness - a combination of kidney failure, hypertension, and high blood pressure. Photo: WireImage
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    Donna Summer, 12/31/1948 - 5/17/2012
    Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype. She was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees.
    Photo: Rolling Stone magazine
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    Released in 1975, "Love to Love You Baby"'s 16 minutes and 48 seconds of orgasmic moaning threw disco into a tizzy overnight. The record was Summer's one of many pairings with legendary producer Giorgio Moroder.
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    Donna Summer's Bad Girls spent six weeks at Number One in 1979. The album included the mega-hit title track as well as classics "Hot Stuff" and "Dim All The Lights". Recognizing that disco was changing as the 70s came to a close, "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" possessed more of a rock edge.
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    Donna Summer performed "She Works Hard for the Money" live - as the opening act - on the 1984 Grammy Awards. It scored the largest viewing audience of any Grammy telecast in history - a record it still holds as of 2013. Summer herself was a five time Grammy winner.
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    Donna Summer performing on the "VH1 Diva's 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross" at Madison Square Garden. Early in her career, Summer fronted a psychedelic rock band and toured West Germany as part of the cast of "Hair". Photo: Getty Images
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    Pictured attending "Donna Summer's Art Rock" exhibit in 2003. Summer acted in the 1978 film Thank God It's Friday and performed its Academy Award winning song "Last Dance". Photo: Getty Images
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    Donna Summer performing on "The Today Show" in 2008. Summer's influential and ahead of its time single "I Feel Love" was produced once again by Moroder and has been sampled by many artists including Blondie, David Guetta, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Diana Ross, and Britney Spears. Photo: Getty Images
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    Donna Summer performing during the David Foster and Friends concert in October 2010 in Las Vegas. After a sad battle with lung cancer, Summer was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Photo: Getty Images
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    Donny Hathaway, 10/1/1945 - 1/13/1979
    Hathaway was one of the brightest voices in soul at the dawn of the 70s - a smooth, gospel-inflected romantic croon that was also suited to fiery protest material. Sadly, he's usually remembered for the tragic circumstances of his death - a suicide at age 33.
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    Hathaway found greatest success with his hit collaborations with Roberta Flack - "Where Is The Love?" and "The Closer I Get to You". Flack was a former Howard University classmate. After "Where Is The Love?" in 1972, he would reunite with Flack for the Grammy winning "The Closer I Get to You" in 1978.
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    Donny Hathaway worked as a songwriter, session musician, and producer on projects with Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, and Curtis Mayfield. He was signed as a solo artist after being spotted by King Curtis.
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    Donny Hathaway's Extension of a Man was his last studio album. As a composer, he penned Christmas standard "This Christmas", covered by Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, and many others. He's also known for contributing the theme song to 70s TV show "Maude" starring Bea Arthur.
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    Hathaway's duet with Roberta Flack "You Are My Heaven" was released posthumously in 1980. Hathaway left behind three daughters. Lalah has a successful solo career, and Kenya is one of the backing vocalists on "American Idol".
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    Gerald Levert, 7/13/1966 - 11/10/2006
    A contemporary soul singer whose smooth yet robust vocals brought energy and emotion to even his most serene recordings, Gerald Levert grew up in the shadows of his father, Eddie Levert of classic Philadelphia soul act The O'Jays. Photo: Getty Images
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    LeVert's album from 1988 Just Coolin' with "Pull Over" and "Gotta Get the Money". LeVert also featured his brother Sean. He was also a part of LSG, a R&B supergroup with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill.
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    Gerald Levert & Eddie Levert released an album together, Father & Son (1995) with "Already Missing You" and "For the Love". The album falls into the middle ground between the heart-stopping, smooth soul of The O'Jays, and the slicker, funkier sound of LeVert.
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    Gerald Levert performing at Madison Square Garden in 2001. Photo: Getty Images
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    In addition to his string of hits, Gerald rendered his services as songwriter, vocalist, and producer to artists such as Barry White, Stephanie Mills, Troop, Teddy Pendergrass, The Winans, and Patti Labelle, seen here performing with him at the 2003 Essence Music Festival. Photo: Getty Images
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    Gerald Levert arrives to the "First-Ever" BET Comedy Awards in 2004. Levert also did some work as an actor, appearing on "The Jamie Foxx Show" and "The Parkers". Photo: Getty Images
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    Gerald Levert - In My Songs (2007) with "Wanna Get Up with You" and "Whatcha Think About That". This album was released posthumously. Levert passed away on November 10, 2006 from a fatal combination of prescription narcotics and over the counter drugs.
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    Heavy D was born Dwight Errington Myers on May 24, 1967 in Jamaica. He passed away from a pulmonary embolism on November 8, 2011. Photo: Getty Images
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    Heavy D & the Boyz's classic Big Tyme (1989) with "We Got Our Own Thang" and "Somebody for Me". Heavy D was an all-around talent. A gifted MC, he was also an agile dancer, a successful songwriter and producer, a naturalistic actor, and an astute businessman who held an executive-level position.
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    Heavy D in 2005. His group Heavy D & The Boyz were the first group signed to Uptown Records, one of the most popular 80s/90s hip-hop and R&B labels, one that also gave Diddy his start. In 1993, Heavy D performed a memorable acoustic set with Uptown labelmates Jodeci and Mary J. Blige on "MTV Unplugged". Photo: Getty Images
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    Heavy D produced the debut Soul For Real album, Candy Rain in 1995. He also performed the theme songs to "In Living Color" and "MADtv".
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    Heavy D's acting credits include Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence's Life, Who's the Man?, The Cider House Rules and episodes of "A Different World", "Living Single", "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", "Bones", and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit".
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    Heavy D and Cee Lo Green performing onstage in Las Vegas in July 2011. Heavy D also collaborated with Janet Jackson on "Alright" and performed the rap on Michael Jackson's "Jam". Photo: Getty Images
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    Heavy D performing at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2011. It was his first televised live performance in 15 years and would be his final live performance. Photo: Getty Images
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    Isaac Hayes, 8/20/1942 - 8/10/2008
    Few figures exerted greater influence over the music of the 60s and 70s than Isaac Hayes; after laying the groundwork for the Memphis soul sound through his work with Stax-Volt Records, Hayes began a highly successful solo career which predated not only the disco movement but also the evolution of rap. Photo: Getty Images
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    Isaac Hayes and Sam Moore of Sam & Dave performing on "The Tonight Show" in 2003. Hayes wrote the classic "Soul Man" for Sam & Dave in 1967 as well as another of their hits, "Hold On I'm Coming". Photo: Getty Images
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    Isaac Hayes - Shaft Soundtrack (1971). "The Theme from Shaft" won an Oscar for Best Original Song, making Hayes the first African American to win an Academy Award in that - or any - non-acting category. Hayes won two Grammy Awards that same year.
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    In 1992, in recognition of his humanitarian work, he was crowned the honorary king of the Ada, Ghana region. More trivia - Hayes also owned a basketball team during the 70s, the Memphis Tams. Photo: Getty Images
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    Hayes pictured with another pivotal songwriter of the 60s and 70s, Smokey Robinson, arriving at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2005. That year Hayes was inducted with his songwriting partner David Porter, Bill Withers, Steve Cropper, and John Fogerty. Photo: Getty Images
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    In addition to his musical career, Isaac Hayes worked for decades as an actor - starring in the blaxploitation film Truck Turner, Escape from New York, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Hustle and Flow, and more. On TV he appeared on "Miami Vice", "The A-Team", and most famously as Chef on "South Park".
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    James Brown, 5/3/1933 - 12/25/2006
    "Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" - those are mighty titles, but no one can question that James Brown earned them more than any other performer. Photo: Getty Images
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    James Brown - Live at the Apollo (1963) with "Think". For more classic James Brown albums visit the James Brown Discography gallery. Brown holds the record as the artist to have charted the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 without ever hitting #1. However, Brown scored 17 #1 singles on the R&B charts.
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    James Brown - The Payback (1973)
    For more classic James Brown albums visit the James Brown Discography gallery. After an early stint in prison for robbery, Brown began his career as a gospel singer and then became lead singer of his first band, The Famous Flames.
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    James Brown - "Doin It to Death" (1973)
    For more classic James Brown albums visit the James Brown Discography gallery. "Doin It to Death" was written by JBs band member Fred Wesley. Other notable bandmates of Brown's over the years include Maceo Parker, Bobby Byrd, Lyn Collins, and Bootsy Collins.
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    Stage outfits belonging to James Brown are on display for the auction entitled "James Brown Collection" at Christie's in 2008. James Brown is the world's most sampled recording artist, and his song "Funky Drummer" the most sampled piece of music in history. Photo: Getty Images
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    James Brown live on stage in 2005. James Brown was known for coordinating his dance moves to lead his band. Each movement was actually an instruction to the band. Photo: Getty Images
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    James Brown's funeral after passing away from congestive heart failure and pneumonia. A star-studded list of luminaries were in attendance including Michael Jackson, Prince, Ice Cube, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, 50 Cent, Don King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many others. The service was held at the Apollo Theater and presided over by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Photo: Getty Images
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    Luther Vandross, 4/20/1951 - 7/1/2005
    Luther Vandross was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 80s and 90s. Possessed of a smooth, versatile tenor voice, he charmed millions with his romantic music. Photo: WireImage
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    Luther Vandross began playing the piano at three. He grew up in a musical family. His sister Patricia sang with the vocal group The Crests, who had a #2 hit in 1958 with "16 Candles". Photo: Getty Images
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    High school friend Carlos Alomar, who had become David Bowie's guitarist, scored Vandross one of his earliest gigs - providing backing vocals, serving as a vocal arranger and even co-writing a track with Bowie on his 1975 classic Young Americans. Vandross continued to work with Bowie through the 80s, providing background vocals on the soundtrack to Labyrinth.
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    Luther Vandross's tour de force debut Never Too Much (1981) with the title track and "Don't You Know That?". Vandross wrote six of the album's seven songs, the exception being an epic cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's Dionne Warwick hit "A House Is Not a Home".
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    Luther Vandross singing the National Anthem before the start of Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. Even after enormous success in his own right, Vandross continued to do a lot of session work, as well as regular work as a composer, producer, and vocal arranger for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, James Ingram, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, his idol Dionne Warwick, and many others. Photo: Getty Images
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    Luther Vandross posing backstage with his award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist during the American Music Awards in 2002. Fun fact: Luther Vandross' middle name is Ronzoni - yes, after the brand of pasta. Another bit of trivia: early in Vandross' career he appeared with a theater workshop in two 1969 episodes of "Sesame Street". Photo: Getty Images
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    Luther Vandross crossed over to the Billboard Pop Charts Top 10 with the ballad "Here and Now", which peaked at #6. The song won him his first Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Photo: Getty Images
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    Luther Vandross' Dance with My Father (2003) includes the Grammy winning title track and a cover with Beyonce of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack's "The Closer I Get To You". The album was dedicated to his father who, like Luther, also suffered from diabetes and died when Luther was eight.
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    Monica presents Luther Vandross' award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist to his mother, Mary Ida, during the 31st Annual American Music Awards in 2003. Vandross had recently suffered a severe stroke from which he never fully recovered, just as he was winning more awards for Dance with My Father. Photo: Getty Images
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    Aretha Franklin performing "Amazing Grace" during Luther Vandross's funeral on July 8, 2005. Luther's final public appearance was on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2004. Photo: Getty Images
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    Marvin Gaye, 4/2/1939 - 4/1/1984
    One of the most visionary and enduring talents to come out of the Motown hit machine, Gaye blazed a trail for the evolution of black music. Moving from powerful R&B to sophisticated soul to arrive at an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression, his work redefined soul music and expanded its impact as an agent for social change. Photo: WireImage
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    Marvin Gaye with close friend and popular duet partner Tammi Terrell in 1967. Gaye was among the early artists signed to Motown. In 1961, while working primarily as a session drummer, he married label head Berry Gordy's sister Anna. During this time his first solo releases failed, but songs like "Pride and Joy" and "How Sweet Is Is (To Be Loved By You)" started to strike gold. Also successful were his pairings with Terrell, Kim Weston, and Mary Wells.
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    After his biggest chart success to date with "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" but also the death of Terrell and a crumbling marriage, Marvin Gaye retreated from the spotlight. Gaye, often critical of Motown's apolitical material and artistic compromises, returned with 1971's self-produced What's Going On, marking a dramatic change in his songwriting. The chart success of the title track, "Inner City Blues", and "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" baffled Berry Gordy, who had fought Gaye over the release of the record. The album's triumph was a triumph for Gaye, Motown and the changing face of R&B.
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    Between What's Going On and his next landmark album Let's Get It On, Marvin Gaye scored the soundtrack to blaxploitation thriller Trouble Man in 1972. Tracks included the slick instrumental "T Plays It Cool" and the moody, minimalist title track.
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    The long-simmering eroticism implicit in much of Gaye's work reached its boiling point with 1973's Let's Get It On, one of the most sexually charged albums ever recorded; a work of intense lust and longing, it became the most commercially successful effort of his career, and the title cut became his second number one hit.
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    A poster for the Let's Get It On tour supported by Ashford and Simpson. Some Marvin Gaye trivia... Prior to signing with Motown, Gaye's vocal groups worked as session singers with Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. Additionally, during his depression following Tammi Terrell's death, he sought a position playing football with the Detroit Lions.
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    Marvin Gaye's final release, Midnight Love (1982) with "Sexual Healing" was released on Columbia Records. It marked a heated, contentious break from Berry Gordy and Motown. Despite increasingly erratic behavior, years spent away from critical success, tax troubles, European exile, consuming legal battles with ex-wives, and an escalating cocaine addiction, Marvin Gaye emerged from a dark period one last time to stunning commercial success and renewed stardom.
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    Marvin Gaye pictured with his children Frankie and Nona in 1983 at the 25th Annual Grammy Awards when he won Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Sexual Healing". During this time Gaye reconciled with Berry Gordy, performing on the "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" TV special. Photo: WireImage
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    Marvin Gaye's funeral, 1984. He died one day before his 45th birthday. He had always had a difficult relationship with his abusive father, and retreating home after a grueling tour while suffering from cocaine-related paranoia and suicidal depression was a recipe for tragedy. After days of heated arguments, Marvin Gay, Sr. shot his son with a gun given to him as a Christmas gift. Photo: WireImage
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    Michael Jackson, 8/29/1958 - 6/25/2009
    "The King of Pop" was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and certainly one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime, Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts: a distinctive voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power.
    Photo: Rolling Stone magazine
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    When Joe Jackson began to organize a musical group around this sons, Michael's dead-on mastery of James Brown's dance moves and soulful, mature-beyond-his-years vocals made him a natural focal point, especially given his incredibly young age. The Jackson 5 signed to Motown in 1968 and released Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 in 1969 with the #1 hit "I Want You Back".
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    Pictured: the cover of the "ABC" songbook. The Jackson 5 followed up their debut with ABC in 1970 with another two #1s, the title track and "The Love You Save". Later that year "I'll Be There" was released on their third album, another #1. It also became the best-selling single in Motown history, spending a stellar five weeks at number one. And it had still been less than a year since the group's national debut.
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    The Jacksons pictured performing on "Soul Train". After scoring many more hits during the first half of the 70s but experiencing increasing frustration over creative direction, the group, with the exception of Jermaine who was married to Berry Gordy's daughter, chose to leave Motown in 1976 for Epic. Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael had released some solo work, beginning in the early 70s while still in the Jackson 5, and had achieved huge critical and commercial success with Off The Wall in 1979. Still, this significant achievement could not compare to the unimaginable, record-breaking success of Thriller in the early 80s. Presciently, Jackson had negotiated for the highest royalty rate in the music industry prior to Thriller's release.
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    In addition to the staggering sales figures, the mass adoration and awards, Michael Jackson became MTV's first superstar, breaking through the channel's backward early attitudes about race. During Thriller's peak, the merchandising exceeded even the prime Jackson 5 years, when they had their own cartoon show. Pictured here is a collectible Michael Jackson doll. Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson collaborated with Paul McCartney in the early 80s on songs "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is Mine". Their friendship later ended when Jackson purchased the publishing rights to the majority of The Beatles compositions. Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson poses with his pet boa constrictor, Muscles. Between Thriller and Bad's release in 1987, Jackson kept busy. He wowed audiences with the debut of the Moonwalk on "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" and the landmark premiere of the long form "Thriller" video. He wrote a song for the E.T. Storybook and co-wrote "We Are The World". He also launched the Victory Tour with his brothers. Photo: Getty Images
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    Fresh off Bad, Jackson is pictured here with friends Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, and Whitney Houston in 1988. Once again, Bad was produced by Quincy Jones and even with the unenviable, impossible task of following Thriller it became the first album to produce 5 #1 hits. Photo: Getty Images
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    Unfortunately, as the hits continued, the speculation over Jackson's eccentric behavior increased. After severe burns during an infamous accident shooting a Pepsi commercial triggered more significant plastic surgery, his face started to noticeably change. Dubbed "Wacko Jacko" by the tabloids, he was rumored to have offered to purchase the Elephant Man's bones and also sleep in an oxygen chamber. Later, in 1994, followed his short, bizarre marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson became known as much for his music and eccentricities as he was for his charity work. Here, Michael Jackson sits with orphaned and abandoned Ivory Coast children in 1992. Photo: Getty Images
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    Michael Jackson kisses his sister Janet after she presented him with the Grammy Legend Award at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards in 1993. The two would duet on "Scream" in 1995. At a cost of $ 7 million, its video was listed in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive music video ever made. Photo: Getty Images
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    A black mark on his legacy - the mugshot for Michael Jackson's arrest for alleged child molestation. His later years were unfortunately marred by scandal and hard financial times. In 2006, he began to close portions of his home, Neverland Ranch, and then sold it in late 2008. Photo: Getty Images
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    Pictured: a Michael Jackson tribute during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Jackson's drug-related death at age 50 on June 25, 2009 triggered a global outpouring of grief as well as a record surge in internet traffic - taking down the websites of TMZ and the Los Angeles Times as well as AOL Instant Messenger. Photo: Getty Images
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    The Los Angeles Theater Marquee honors Michael Jackson on June 27, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Getty Images
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    Nickolas Ashford, 5/4/1942 -8/22/2011
    Nickolas Ashford, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, wrote several classic songs and scored some hits of their own during their several decade long career. Photo: Getty Images
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    Ashford and Simpson met in 1964 and after writing for The Shirelles, Aretha Franklin, and the 5th Dimension, they scored their first songwriting hit in 1966 with Ray Charles' recording of their "Let's Go Get Stoned." Then, later that year, they began writing for Motown. Photo: Getty Images
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    They wrote all of Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye's late 60s singles, including "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and "You're All I Need to Get By". According to Marvin Gaye, as Terrell succumbed to her brain tumor, Simpson allegedly supplied the bulk of the vocals on the final Gaye-Terrell album.
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    They also wrote "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", most famously recorded by Diana Ross. As Diana Ross left The Supremes for a solo career, Ashford & Simpson wrote "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" for her.
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    As they scored some R&B and disco hits of their own, they gave some of their best material to Chaka Khan such as "I'm Every Woman" in 1978, later covered by Whitney Houston. (Ironically, a young Houston sang backing vocals on Khan's recording.)
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    The cover of their 1978 album Is It Still Good to Ya with the #2 R&B hit "It Seems To Hang On". The title track was also performed by Teddy Pendergrass. Their follow-up album featured disco hit "Found a Cure".
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    Ashford and Simpson reunited with Diana Ross in the late 70s, composing much of her 1979 album The Boss. They had already worked on two other Ross releases - Diana in 1970 and Surrender in 1971.
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    Ashford and Simpson are best remembered for their 1984 smash "Solid", which hit #12 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts. At President Barack Obama's 2009 Inauguration, Ashford and Simpson rewrote "Solid" to "Solid as Barack", and they dedicated it to new president during the festivities.
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    In addition to his songwriting career, in later years Ashford also appeared in the movie New Jack City in 1991, as Reverend Oates. He and his wife were featured disc jockeys on WRKS in New York. They also opened a restaurant/performance venue, Sugar Bar, in 1996. Photo: Getty Images
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    Ashford and Simpson were given their final writing credit while Ashford was alive on Amy Winehouse's 2007 album Back to Black for the single "Tears Dry On Their Own". The track is based on a sample of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".
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    Nickolas Ashford died on August 22, 2011 of complications from throat cancer. He left behind an amazing songwriting legacy and his wife of 37 years, Valerie Simpson. Photo: Getty Images
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    Phyllis Hyman, 7/6/1949 - 6/30/1995
    With her fashion model looks and her silky voice, Philadelphia's Phyllis Hyman could have had a career on par with Whitney Houston. Unfortunately, she didn't meet crossover expectations, and in the end, a prolonged deep depression, fading of striking looks and a drug/alcohol addiction caused her to take her life in the week before her 46th birthday in 1995. She left behind several albums of unforgettable jazz-influenced R&B.
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    Phyllis Hyman was given her big break by Norman Connors, offering her a job as a featured vocalist on his 1976 album You Are My Starship. Together they scored on the R&B charts with a cover of The Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly Wow".
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    Phyllis Hyman, in addition to her R&B recording career, appeared in films (Lenny, School Daze) and on Broadway in "Sophisticated Ladies", a role for which she received a Tony Award nomination. Pictured is the cover of her biggest album, Prime of My Life, released in 1991 on Philadelphia International. It included her first #1 R&B hit as well as her first Billboard Top 100 hit, "Don't Wanna Change the World".
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    Phyllis Hyman's last album was tellingly titled I Refuse to Be Lonely. A journey into her troubled personal life, it was released posthumously in 1995.
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    Rick James, 2/1/1948 - 8/6/2004
    In the late 70s, when the fortunes of Motown Records seemed to be flagging, Rick James came along and rescued the company, providing funky hits that updated the label's style and saw it through into the mid-80s. Photo: WireImage
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    Actually, James had been with Motown earlier, though nothing had come of it. As a military deserter in Toronto in the late 60s, he formed a band with Neil Young, the Mynah Birds. They were signed to Motown, though no record was ever released. James returned to the label in 1977 and released his debut album Come Get It! with the hits "You and I" and "Mary Jane". He played most of the instruments on the album, with minimal involvement from group, The Stone City Band. Photo: WireImage
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    In 1979, Rick James took a young Prince on tour as his opening act. James' cordial relationship with Prince during the tour strained after Prince, according to James, stole all the bits from his act to hype the audience. He got so fed up with this that he canceled the rest of the tour.
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    Rick James pictured at home. He was a noted producer, a hitmaker for Teena Marie, his protege girl group The Mary Jane Girls, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and Eddie Murphy. Photo: WireImage
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    Street Songs (1981), following the failure of Garden of Love, marked a no holds barred return to in your face funk and the golden age of James' career with "Super Freak" and "Give It To Me Baby". Another notable track was his duet with longtime friend Teena Marie, "Fire and Desire". In an interview, Teena Marie said she had a fever at the time yet managed to record her vocals in one take. After the session, she was driven to a hospital.
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    Rick James in the recording studio with The Mary Jane Girls in 1983. Their biggest hit was "In My House". The Mary Jane Girls dissolved in 1987, then reunited in 1996. Photo: WireImage
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    Rick James wrote and produced Murphy's hit "Party All The Time". James began a close friendship with Murphy in 1981. Photo: WireImage
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    Rick James' appetite for partying was as legendary as his musical talent. What was once a humorous part of his dynamic, over the top persona turned horrific by the early 90s as he was simultaneously charged with the crack cocaine fueled torture of a groupie as well as the assault of a music executive. Photo: WireImage
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    Rick James with Bump J and Kanye West in the studio. James was enjoying renewed interest in his career due to appearing in the hugely successful "Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories" sketches on "Chappelle's Show". Photo: Getty Images
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    In the sketches, he, along with Charlie Murphy, recounted humorous stories of their experiences together during the 80s. Rick James' character, played by Dave Chappelle, utters the now famous catchphrase, "I'm Rick James, bitch!" The skits were punctuated by James, as himself, explaining his past behavior with the phrase, "Cocaine is a hell of a drug!"
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    After a final appearance performing "Fire and Desire" with Teena Marie at the 2004 BET Awards, Rick James passed away August 6, 2004 from pulmonary and cardiac failure. Pictured here are his children at his funeral - Ty, Tazman and Rick Jr. Photo: WireImage
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    Teena Marie presents the in memoriam tribute to Rick James onstage at the BET Awards on June 28, 2005. Photo: Getty Images
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    Teddy Pendergrass, 3/26/1950 - 1/13/2010
    Teddy Pendergrass, one of the leading male R&B stars of the 70s and one of the most electric performers of his time died at the age of 59 of colon cancer and ultimately respiratory failure. He continued his career even after life as a paraplegic for 28 years. Teddy Pendergrass is shown here in his prime, live in concert in 1981. Photo: WireImage
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    It wasn't Pendergrass' incredible voice that got him his break in the music business. It was his drum playing. He met Harold Melvin, who was looking for replacement members for his group, the Blue Notes, and initially signed on as their drummer. With his incredible voice he soon became the lead singer of the group. Beginning with "I Miss You", they had a steady stream of hits during the early 70s - early hits for the legendary Philadelphia International Records.
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    Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' list of landmark hits includes "If You Don't Know Me By Now", "Bad Luck", "The Love I Lost", and "Wake Up Everybody". Unfortunately, friction grew between Melvin and Pendergrass when the billing of the group was revised to "Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes featuring Theodore Pendergrass". The act split, leading to a confusing situation - both Melvin and Pendergrass led two Blue Notes for a short time in 1976.
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    Pendergrass soon disbanded his Blue Notes in favor of a solo career. In 1977, Teddy Pendergrass was released with hits "I Don't Love You Anymore" and "The More I Get, The More I Want". A sex symbol with equally sexy songs and a heavily female fan base, Teddy Pendergrass began staging "Ladies Only" concerts.
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    With the continued success of albums Life Is a Song Worth Singing in 1978, Teddy in 1979 and TP in 1980 with a string of hits - "Close the Door", "Turn Off the Lights", Only You", "Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose", and signature tune "Love TKO" - Pendergrass was at the height of his powers, and was even dubbed the "Black Elvis" at one point.
    Photo: Blues & Soul Magazine
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    At the peak of his fame, disaster struck. A car accident left him a paraplegic. After two years of physical therapy, Teddy Pendergrass released his first album of new material, 1984's Love Language, which featured a pre-fame Whitney Houston. On July 13, 1985, he made an emotional return to the stage at Live Aid. Introduced by Nickolas Ashford, he performed Ashford and Simpson's "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand).
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    Teddy Pendergrass scored another hit in 1988 with the new jack swing-styled "Joy", and he continued recording through the 90s. His live performances were understandably less frequent though still dynamic. Philadelphia International Records founder Kenneth Gamble said, "He used to say something in his act in the wheelchair, 'Don't let the wheelchair fool you,' because he still proclaimed he was a lover." Photo: Getty Images
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    Teddy Pendergrass shown performing at the opening NFL game at the Lincoln Financial Center in Philadelphia September 8, 2003. After the accident, he dedicated much of his life to helping others with spinal cord injuries and founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance to do just that. Photo: Getty Images
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    Teena Marie, 3/5/1956 - 12/26/2010
    No white artist sang R&B more convincingly than Teena Marie, the Ivory Queen of Soul, whose big, robust vocals were so black-sounding that when she was starting out, some listeners wondered if she was a light-skinned African-American. Born Mary Christine Brockert, her talent was apparent early on, landing singing gigs such as the wedding of Jerry Lewis' son at age 10. Photo: WireImage
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    Teena signed with Motown in 1976 but wasn't discovered by Rick James until a few years later. Their collaboration produced her first Top 10 R&B hit, "I'm a Sucker for Your Love" on her debut album Wild and Peaceful. Neither the album nor its packaging had her picture on it, and many radio programmers assumed she was African-American during the earliest months of her career. Her second album Lady T had her portrait on its cover.
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    In 1982, a heated legal battle with Motown resulted in "The Brockert Initiative", which made it illegal for a record company to keep an artist under contract without releasing new material for that artist. Teena Marie left Motown their most successful white solo act. Her biggest hit, "Lovergirl" was yet to come, released on Epic in 1985. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
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    Teena Marie with longtime collaborator and ex Rick James at the 2004 BET Awards. This was their last performance together. While their time together was over, Teena Marie still has some solo success ahead of her with several more charting albums and a Grammy win in 2005. Photo: Getty Images
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    Teena Marie reconciled with Motown and Berry Gordy to perform with her daughter, Alia Rose, at a 50th anniversary celebration of the label in 2007. Photo: Getty Images
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    Teena Marie appeared on "Soul Train" eight times, more than any other white act. Here, Teena is pictured performing at the 2009 Essence Music Festival. Photo: Getty Images
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    Trivia: Teena Marie appeared on "The Beverly Hillbillies" as a child actor as well as "The Steve Harvey Show" and "The Parkers" late in her career. Another interesting factoid is that Teena Marie was actress Maya Rudolph's godmother. Her second album, Lady T was produced by Rudolph's father, and featured a 7-year-old Maya guesting on "Too Many Colors". Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney Houston, 8/9/1963 - 2/11/2012
    Whitney Houston was inarguably one of the biggest female pop stars of all time, one of the first black artists to find MTV success in Michael Jackson's wake. Her accomplishments as a hitmaker were extraordinary. She became the first artist ever to have 7 consecutive singles hit #1, and her 1993 Dolly Parton cover "I Will Always Love You" became nothing less than the biggest hit single in rock history. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney's mother was gospel/R&B singer Cissy Houston, and her cousin was Dionne Warwick. Nicknamed "Nippy", by 11, Houston was performing as a soloist in a junior gospel choir; as a teenager, she began accompanying her mother in concert and studio releases, and went on to back artists like Lou Rawls and Chaka Khan. Houston also pursued modeling and acting, appearing on the sitcoms "Gimme a Break" and "Silver Spoons", even turning down the role of Sondra on "The Cosby Show". Shown here is an ad featuring Houston as a teenager.
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    In 1983, Arista Records president Clive Davis heard Houston singing at a nightclub and offered her a recording contract. In March of 1985, her self-titled debut was released with soon to be mega hits "Saving All My Love For You", "How Will I Know", and "The Greatest Love of All". It eventually sold over 13 million copies, making it the best-selling debut ever by a female artist.
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    Whitney Houston cemented her superstar status on her next album, Whitney; it became the first album by a female artist to debut at #1, and sold over nine million copies. Its first four singles - "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)", "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional," and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" - all hit number one. She was the highest earning African American woman at the time, according to Forbes magazine.
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    Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991. Her rendition of the National Anthem is considered one of the all time best. It even became a Top 20 hit that year during the Gulf War. Photo: Getty Images
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    1992 was a pivotal year for Whitney Houston. That summer, she married Bobby Brown, who she met at the 1989 Soul Train Awards while dating Eddie Murphy. Late in the year she returned to an acting career opposite Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard. Its soundtrack sold an astounding 16 million copies. Future movies included Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher's Wife.
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    Whitney Houston waves to the crowd at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards in March 1994 after she was honored for Record of the Year, "I Will Always Love You," and Album of the Year, the soundtrack from the film The Bodyguard. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney Houston receives from her mother, Cissy Houston, the World Best-Selling Pop Artist of the year award during the 6th World Music Award ceremony in Monte Carlo on May 5, 1994. Photo: Getty Images
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    Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown and their daughter Bobbi Christina in 1998. It was during this time the cracks started to show in Houston's private life. She started being hours late for interviews, photo shoots and rehearsals, and canceling concerts and talk-show appearances. With the missed performances and weight loss, rumors about Houston using drugs with her husband circulated. Two years later she and Brown would be arrested for drug possession. Photo: Getty Images
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    Still, some success was ahead. Here, Whitney Houston holds her sixth Grammy award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "It's Not Right but It's Okay" at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in February 2000. Photo: Getty Images
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    After years of ongoing drama, including an ill-advised foray into reality television with "Being Bobby Brown", Houston divorced Brown in 2007. Whitney Houston gave her first interview in seven years in September 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey's season premiere where she admitted to past drug problems. Her final studio album also came in 2009. It showed promise - her first #1 album since The Bodyguard.
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    Whitney Houston's last project was the remake of the 1976 musical drama Sparkle with Jordin Sparks and Mike Epps. In 2001, Houston acquired the rights, and the film was to originally star another tragically killed performer, Aaliyah, in Sparks' role. Derailed by Aaliyah's fatal plane crash, the film became Houston's swan song a decade later.
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    February 2012, while in the middle of rehearsals for Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards party, Whitney Houston died from accidental drowning and cocaine-related heart disease. Houston's funeral was held in Newark, New Jersey. Among those who performed at the ceremony: Stevie Wonder, CeCe Winans, Alicia Keys, Kim Burrell, and R. Kelly. Photo: Getty Images
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    One day after Whitney Houston was found dead, Jennifer Hudson performed a touching tribute to her at the 54th Grammy Awards. Photo: Getty Images