Bennett made his comments just hours after Houston’s body was found in her hotel room. The 85-year-old singer was speaking at Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammys party, which had been abruptly re-dedicated to Houston’s life. “I’d like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalise drugs,” he told the star-studded crowd. “So they have to get it from a doctor, not just some gangsters that just sell it under the table.”
According to Bennett, drug laws were responsible not just for Houston’s death but for the premature ends of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. This is a bizarre claim: Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning, while Jackson was killed by the effects of a legal drug, administered by a doctor. Houston’s death has yet to be explained.
Despite criticism from certain quarters, Bennett said on Monday that the reaction to his comments has been “mostly positive”. “[Legalisation would] get rid of all the gangsters that make people hide,” he told Rolling Stone magazine. “Once it’s legal and everybody can do it, there is no longer the desire to do something that nobody else can do … You’re always afraid you’re going to get arrested. You have to hide. Why do that?”
Bennett won two Grammys on Sunday, including a prize for Body and Soul, his duet with Amy Winehouse; this brings his career total to 17. “Winning just feels great,” Bennett said.