Ten years ago on this date, August 25th, R&B artist Aaliyah, 22, died in a tragic plane crash. She a phenomenal performer, recording artist, and aspiring actress and one of three of the most surprising deaths that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime next to Brittany Murphy and Heath Ledger.
Aaliyah was rising to level of fame that would have secured her a spot on the radio in today’s market. She had the star power of a toned-down Rihanna and was famous for her collaborations with Timbaland and Missy Elliot. She was also an excellent dancer, comparable at that time to Britney Spears or Beyonce…
She had just released her third self-titled album and had an awesomely campy vampire movie, Queen Of The Damned, on the brink of hitting theaters. She was also preparing for her role in the next two Matrix movies, one of which she had already finished filming.
After her death, her single “Rock The Boat” became a huge hit, along with its music video which Aaliyah filmed on her trip to The Bahamas, the trip that ultimately ended her life on the flight back home.
Aaliyah, and seven members of her entourage were all killed shortly after takeoff. The aircraft was loaded far beyond capacity, and the pilot, Luis Morales III, who also died in the crash, had a falsely obtained FFA license and cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the flight.
Close friend and fellow musician Quincy Jones told CNN after her death,
“She was like one of my daughters; she was one of the sweetest girls in the world. She vacationed with me and my family together in Fiji. I loved her and respected her and I am absolutely devastated.”
…I love Aaliyah too! She was amazing, I had been a fan of hers since 7th grade. I saw the news on MTV that she’d died and I felt this indescribable wave of surprise take over my body, I just froze and stared at the TV as if it were some kind of alien technology that I could not comprehend. It was the kind of shock that you remember your entire life.
I still watch Romeo Must Die with Jet Li and think about all the things she would be achieving if she were still alive. Perhaps she’d even be at the VMAs, performing alongside Lil’ Wayne and Lady Gaga.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001)
[Watch more Aaliyah videos HERE]