Questions surrounding Houston death echo past

Singer Whitney Houston performs at last year's pre-Grammy gala & salute to industry icons with Clive Davis honoring David Geffen in Beverly Hills, Calif., Feb. 13, 2011.
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

LOS ANGELES - Whitney Houston's life was a doleful cover of other addiction-riddled pop stars who put their talent and themselves at risk.

Her death has created more heartrending echoes of tragedies past: The painstaking investigation that follows the shocking loss. Why was Houston found in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub, beyond resuscitation?

The 48-year-old singer, who had prescription drugs in her room, left behind disconsolate family and friends and unfulfilled dreams. Her body was flown Monday by private jet to New Jersey, where she was born and where her funeral is planned for Saturday. Late Monday, a hearse under heavy police escort arrived at the Newark, N.J., funeral home that was handling the arrangements for the late pop star.

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After an autopsy Sunday, authorities said there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston. It could be weeks, however, before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.

The singer had struggled for years with cocaine, marijuana and pills and her behavior had become erratic, including in the period before her death. Some described her as upbeat and eager to perform at producer Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards bash. Others described an unfocused woman, unkempt and smelling of alcohol and cigarettes.

Law enforcement sources have confirmed to CBS News that prescription drugs were also found in the room, creating speculation that a mixture of drugs and alcohol could have contributed to her death. (Watch John Blackstone's latest report on the investigation into Houston's death at left.)

It recalled the end of Michael Jackson's life, as he tried to turn his career around with an ambitious series of London concerts. The 50-year-old struck many as youthfully energetic and upbeat, while others said he was bedeviled by insomnia that led him to a fatal dosage of prescription drugs in June 2009.

Jackson's death was quickly linked to the anesthetic propofol, although the criminal prosecution of his doctor was played out through 2011. It took three months for a London coroner to rule that Amy Winehouse drank herself to death last July.

Houston's funeral service will be held Saturday in the church where she first showcased her singing talents as a child.

The owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark said Tuesday that Houston's funeral would be held at noon Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music program for many years. The funeral home said there would be no wake.

It will likely be smaller than Jackson's Los Angeles memorial service, which included members of the public, 1.6 million of whom had vied for about 9,000 tickets, along with songs from Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey and speeches from other celebrities.

An impromptu memorial for Houston was held during a sadness-tinged Grammys, with Hudson saluting her memory with a performance of "I Will Always Love You." Viewership for the awards show soared over last year by 50 percent, with about 40 million viewers tuning in to the program on CBS.

"It was the greatest honor of my life to be able to be the one to pay tribute to Whitney's memory," Hudson said in a statement Monday. "It was from my heart. I haven't stopped crying since she passed."

Houston was found at the Beverly Hilton Hotel by a member of her staff about 3:30 p.m. PST Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at Davis' party, police Lt. Mark Rosen said. She was pulled from the tub by members of her staff, and hotel security was promptly notified, Rosen said. She was pronounced dead about a half-hour later.

A sensation from her first album, Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, turning out such hits as "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "How Will I Know," "The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You." But as she struggled with drugs, her majestic voice became raspy, and she couldn't hit the high notes.

Houston left behind one child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, from her marriage to singer Bobby Brown.