Whitney Houston fills the O2 hole left by death of Jackson

Comeback concerts mark American singer's return from drug addiction

It was billed as the ultimate comeback tour, but when Michael Jackson died last month from a suspected heart attack at just 50 it was not only the millions of fans that were left heartbroken. The King of Pop's death also meant one of America's largest entertainment giants suddenly -needed to find a replacement for Jackson's 50-date tour at London's O2 Arena.

Now AEG Live looks as if it has found a pair of highly suitable replacements in the guise of two pop acts with recently troubled pasts who also happen to be relaunching their careers. Reports say the company is on the verge of signing Whitney Houston and Robbie Williams to fill some of the 23 dates Jackson was to perform in early 2010.

Jackson's This Is It tour at the O2 had been due to start on 13 July but he died just as the finishing touches were being made at the dress- rehearsal. Since then, AEG has scrambled to find replacement shows at such short notice. But its plans to sign up big acts to cover the second half of what would have been Jackson's tour in early 2010 seems to have been more successful.

Both pop stars have multi- platinum careers to their names and a musical style well-suited to selling out high-capacity stadiums. They have also both been through turbulent times in recent years and are keen to relaunch their careers after strings of headlines that tended not to revolve around their musical abilities.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Whitney Houston was one of the world's biggest-selling acts, thanks to her soul pedigree and powerful voice which sold records by the bucket-load. Her rendition of Dolly Parton's "I will always love you", the title track for the 1992 movie Bodyguard, in which she appeared as a soul diva alongside Kevin Costner, became one of entertainment's best-selling singles, and the Recording Industry Association of America still ranks her as the fourth best-selling female artist in history.

But Houston's career spiralled downwards after she became addicted to a cocktail of drugs along with her husband Bobby Brown, whom she eventually separated from in 2006. Her slow rehabilitation meant she has not released a studio album in more than four years.

But just weeks ago, she revealed that her new album I Look to You would hit the shops in August. London's Mandarin Oriental hotel was the chosen venue to unveil the new album, feeding rumours that her comeback tour would begin on this side of the Atlantic.

Williams has also had a similarly patchy career. By far the most successful breakout solo act from Take That, who went on to produce a string of popular albums over the past two years, his career has been dominated by mixed reviews and an ongoing contractual dispute with his record company EMI. But a new studio album, Reality Killed the Video Star, is to be released in October, coupled with an expected global comeback tour. AEG is doing its best to claw back as much cash as possible. Although it has lost millions from the empty nights at the O2, it will almost certainly recoup large amounts, thanks to its ownership of high-definition video footage of the dress rehearsals. AEG executives have been screening samples of more than 80 hours of filming to major Hollywood studios with the idea of making a full-length movie. So far, only a brief snippet of Jackson's concert rehearsals have been publicly revealed. That showed Jackson practising a song-and-dance routine at Los Angeles's Staples Centre two days before his death.

A spokesman for AEG would only say: "The O2 talks to as many world-class artists and their teams as we conceivably can. We want every great act to play the O2 and we're very fortunate that artists want to play our building."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone