Whitney, Jimi, Elvis, and The Great Gig in the Sky

Whitney, the second album by Whitney Houston, was released on this date in 1987.

It is hard to overestimate the ubiquity of her fame at that time. Certainly on a level with anyone else of that era and close to that of The Beatles two decades previously.

This was the first album by any woman to achieve four number-one hits. Along with three straight number one singles from her debut, Whitney was the first artist ever to have seven consecutive number one hits. (The Beatles had six.) It was also the first album by any artist, male or female, to debut at number one in both the U.S. and the U.K.

There are only four people or groups to have three albums sell 20 million or more copies: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. That is some heady company.

Her star got even brighter when she starred in and sang the title track to The Bodyguard; it remains the best-selling soundtrack album of all time, as well as the best-selling album of all time by any female recording artist, with global sales of over 45 million copies. Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” became the best-selling single by a female in music history, with sales of over 20 million copies worldwide.She also released one other soundtrack for The Preacher’s Wife which went on to become the bestselling gospel album of all time.

In case you didn’t know, Whitney came from a very talented family with deep pop and rock connections. (Here come the Rock Legends connections.) Her mother, Cissy, started a group called The Sweet Inspirations who sang background vocals on many albums including Jimi’s Electric Ladyland and Van’s Brown Eyed Girl. They were Elvis’ back-up singers on his 1969 tour. And, The Sweet Inspirations also included Doris Troy who added lush vocal harmonies on The Dark Side of the Moon, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and Mother and Child Reunion. Whitney’s cousin was also the inimitable Dionne Warwick.

There are still countless Whitney wanna-bes on every talent show in America. Regardless of when you read this post, there is likely a karaoke bar somewhere on this planet right now with a woman trying to emulate Whitney.

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