whitney houston*When Whitney Houston was found lifeless in her Beverly Hills hotel room Saturday, music fans heard more than a few echoes of another 1980s pop superstar who died suddenly less than three years ago.

Like Michael Jackson, Houston was a global recording force who parlayed R&B music into slick, chart-topping hits that defined an era, only to be brought low by a cascade of personal woes, which, in Houston’s case, included admitted drug abuse, a deeply troubled marriage and financial travails.

And like Jackson, Houston, who was 48, has seen a huge posthumous spike in sales. Sunday’s Grammys, which, amid the coronation of the retro torch singer Adele featured recurrent heartfelt tributes to Houston, including Jennifer Hudson‘s rendition of her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You,” delivered the show’s second-highest ratings of all time. The show attracted nearly 40 million viewers, according to Nielsen, an impressive mark that stands behind only the 1984 Grammys when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” helped draw an audience of more than 51 million.

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