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."

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
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.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'