One year ago, what was typically regarded as the jewel of pre-Grammy events and a surefire Whitney Houston sighting became a tragic international news circus.
Just hours before Clive Davis' bash on the eve of the 2012 music awards telecast, Houston passed away in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Twelve months later, folks returned to help the show go on.
"It's very sad," famed songwriter Diane Warren told omg! as we pushed into the packed International Ballroom.
"I was at home putting on my dress and I looked at my husband," said Yolanda Foster, of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and wife of music producer David Foster, "and I thought -- this time, last year, is when we got the call."
Like any event that strikes a chord with a massive fan base (think: the death of Princess Diana), everyone seemed to remember where they were when they got the news about Whitney.
"It's beyond sad," Akon told us, meandering on the red carpet, "that's why I'm taking my time getting inside. I know it's going to be sad."
Ryan Tedder, of One Republic, sat quite near Houston at the gala in 2011 where she held court with Davis, her longtime friend and adviser. He recalled "freaking out" over being so proximate to the legend. That would be the last time she'd grace the hotel's International Ballroom for the big night.
On stage, Davis acknowledged Whitney's brother Gary Houston. He also revealed that, in early planning stages, it was suggested he line up six or seven performers to pay tribute to the legend.
"Instead, I chose one video," he said setting up a clip of Houston singing "All the Man That I Need" in 1991. "You'll see why without question how, along with the great Aretha Franklin, Whitney was the greatest voice of our time."