The music community reacted Monday to the loss of one of its brightest young stars, praising the late Aaliyah for her creativity, warmth and kindness.
“She was like blood, and I lost blood,” producer Timbaland, whose collaborations with Aaliyah included the hits “Are You That Somebody?” and “We Need a Resolution,” said in a phone call to “TRL.” “Me and her together had this chemistry. I kinda lost half of my creativity to her. It’s hard for me to talk to the fans right now. Beyond the music, she was a brilliant person, the [most special] person I ever met.” (Click for photos of Aaliyah and friends.)
Aaliyah, 22, was killed when the small plane she and eight others were traveling in crashed soon after takeoff in the Bahamas on Saturday (see “Aaliyah Killed In Plane Crash” ). The singer was on Abaco Island filming a video for “Rock the Boat,” her label said, adding that it’s too early to tell whether or not the video will ever air.
A visibly shaken P. Diddy, hosting “TRL” Monday, talked about his friendship with Aaliyah and mourned the death of an artist whose best work was yet to come. “She was one of those individuals that would light up a room,” he said. “She always greeted you with a smile. Her time was coming; [she] was just about to explode.”
He said Aaliyah’s family was the closest he’d ever seen. Aaliyah is survived by her parents, Diane and Michael Haughton, and a brother, Rashad.
Other artists remembered the singer and actress as much for her personality as for her work.
DMX, who co-starred with Aaliyah in “Romeo Must Die” and dueted with her on “Come Back in One Piece” for the film’s soundtrack album, characterized her as “talented, classy, warm, beautiful, compassionate [and] humble” in a statement issued Monday afternoon. Aaliyah was a “down-to-earth sister with enough energy to put anyone on a cloud,” he said. “Let us pray.”
“Words can’t express what I’m feeling, she was family,” Ginuwine said in a statement. “I will truly miss her.”
“There are no words to express the loss of Aaliyah, whose unique talent was just beginning to blossom,” Ernie Isley said in a statement. “The world will never get to see how her gift could have developed, and that is truly a loss.” Aaliyah reworked the Isley Brothers’ “Choosey Lover” for her 1996 album, One in a Million.
Michael Rymer, who directed Aaliyah in the title role of the upcoming “Queen of the Damned,” remembered the star as a perfectionist and an exceptional young actress. “Aaliyah, who doesn’t have an evil atom in her body, came off as this intensely sexual, sensuous, delightfully evil, naughty performer,” he said. “It was a very tough role to pull off. … I think she delivers.
“Of all the people I know, [she] had such a clear and pure spirit, such a clear idea of what she wanted. It’s hard to imagine that being interrupted,” added Rymer. Rymer said Aaliyah had planned to collaborate with Timbaland and Korn’s Jonathan Davis for the film’s soundtrack, but he wasn’t sure if those plans came to fruition.
A Jive Records statement noted that R. Kelly, who produced Aaliyah’s 1994 debut, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss. His thoughts and prayers are with her family during their time of grief.”
Aaliyah’s “Romeo Must Die” co-star Jet Li issued a statement extending his condolences to Aaliyah’s family and the family of Eric Foreman, a makeup artist who also died in the crash.
“I heard of the devastating news and am deeply saddened that she is no longer with us,” Li said. “She was a wonderful and talented artist who will be missed by everyone whose lives she touched.”
One music-industry veteran who worked with Aaliyah early on was struck by her motivation as a 12-year-old with a burning desire to break into the business. “It was clear she had all the gifts,” said Hank Neuberger, executive vice president of Chicago Recording Company, where Aaliyah recorded much of Age Ain’t Nothing. “She had a great voice, she was stunningly beautiful and she had a strong sense of what she could do at a very young age.”
“Her depth and versatility as an artist was matched by the passion and devotion she had for her craft,” Virgin Records said in a statement issued Sunday (see “Aaliyah Mourned As Artist Who Had ’Limitless Potential'” ).
Fans responded to the tragedy with candlelight vigils and spontaneous memorials. In Detroit, a candlelight vigil was set for Monday evening outside the Detroit High School for Fine and Performing Arts, according to a school official. Aaliyah graduated from the school with a 4.0 GPA in 1997.
“We are devastated,” said Stan Childress, Detroit Public Schools communications director and former student activities advisor at the high school.
“This tragedy has young people crying, hugging each other, expressing love for each other, saying things like, ’This has taught us how to value life, because you don’t know what’s going to happen,’ ” said Childress, who noted that Aaliyah had often given her time and advice to fellow students aspiring to enter the entertainment business. “She’s an angel for this city.”
Outside Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, fans wrote messages on an Aaliyah billboard and left candles and flowers, according to clerk Jonathan Stapleton. He added that the store has seen a huge increase in demand for her albums over the past few days.
In New York, a spray-paint artist was busy Monday creating a mural of the singer in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, according to the Associated Press.
An investigation into the plane crash was ongoing Monday, and authorities in the Bahamas said initial indications pointed to engine failure as the accident’s cause. Among the eight others killed in the crash were Foreman, 29, bodyguard Scott Gallin, 41, and Virgin Records’ director of video production, Douglas Kratz, 28.
Tune in Tuesday night at 5 p.m. ET for “The Life of Aaliyah,” an MTV News Now special report which will air live immediately following “TRL.”