Davis and Houston had a relationship that surpassed that of the typical singer and music executive. Davis discovered Houston as a teen, nurtured her and shaped her into a superstar and one of the world's best-selling artists of all time. He maintained a strong hand in her career and life, attempting to keep his music prodigy with the megawatt voice and incredible range on track during her notorious bouts with drugs and alcohol, and tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown, and later maneuvered her many comebacks.
Houston was found dead only hours before she was set to attend Davis' annual pre-Grammy's party at the Beverly Hilton hotel, the same event where she was introduced to the music world in 1983, nearly three decades ago.
Davis dedicated the night to the renowned singer, tearfully toasting Houston in front of a star-studded audience of her peers, who memorialized the singer's extraordinary career.
"I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life," Davis said Saturday night. "Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence so many times, giving so many performances here over the years. So, simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on."
Davis, a mogul who shaped the careers of music legends including Houston, Alicia Keys, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Carlos Santana, Barry Manilow, Jennifer Hudson and more, first discovered a 19-year-old Whitney Houston in her gospel-singer mother's cabaret act and introduced her soulful sound to the world.
"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club called Sweet Waters right here in Manhattan ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer in a July 2009 interview. "To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song, I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine."
Davis, known for his eye for talent, signed Houston to Arista Records. He introduced the world to her sound on "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1985, but it took nearly took two years to release her self-titled debut album.
"People say, 'What takes so long?'" Davis said in the 2009 interview. "You've got to make sure that no matter how outstanding an artist is ... if you don't have special material, if you don't have the right material, you're not going to make the impact that you want to make."
Houston's first single "You Give Good Love" went to number one on the Billboard charts. Davis enlisted the best of the best producers and songwriters in the business to craft ballads that showcased Houston's powerful range and vocal emotion. Under Davis' watchful eye came a string of seven number one hits, breaking a record set by the Beatles.
"When you are breaking records like that, you really have to pinch yourself," Davis told Sawyer in 2009.