Lean on me: Alicia Keys comforts Whitney Houston's devastated mentor Clive Davis outside Beverly Hilton Hotel party

By Chris Johnson

Consoled: Alicia Keys places a comforting hand on the shoulder of Clive Davis, the man who set Whitney Houston on the path to fame after discovering her and who was her long-time mentor. The pair are pictured outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where Houston died this afternoon, and where Davis's pre-Grammy party went ahead tonight

He was the man who sent her on the path to stardom.

But amid mourning the untimely passing of his protege Whitney Houston, Clive Davis braved a public appearance at his annual Grammys party tonight.

The 79-year-old music mogul is seen here being consoled by RnB star Alicia Keys - outside the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles where 48-year-old Houston was found dead this afternoon.

Houston's body is still believed to be inside her fourth-floor suite - while guests including Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian arrived downstairs to take to the red carpet.

Other celebrities who had been due to attend the function cancelled their appearances, including Kelly Osbourne, her mother Sharon and Miley Cyrus.

Kelly tweeted to say: 'Not going to any pre-Grammy parties as I don't feel that it is appropriate.'

Miley added: 'I LOVE Whitney :( I'm not turning my tv on. just gonna stay @ home & listen 2 her records.'

Devastated: Houston's body was still believed to be inside the hotel in her fourth floor suite as guests arrived for Davis's party

Love and loss: Clive decided to press ahead with tonight's event in Whitney honour. She had been expected to attend the gala and may have performed

However, other stars clearly decided the show must go on and turned out to what will surely become a night paying homage to Houston's life.

The attendees paid homage to the star as Clive Davis asked everyone to observe a moment of silence, as an image of Houston with her hands raised to the sky was shown on a screen.

Davis said: 'I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me. She was full of life, looking forward for tonight. She loved music and she loved this night that celebrated music.'

Bereft: Keys was accompanied by her husband, producer Swizz Beatz who can be seen between his wife and Davis

Sombre: Keys with husband, producer Swizz Beatz, left, along with Sean 'Diddy' Combs and singer Cassie

He added: 'Whitney was a beautiful person and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage ... so many times. So simply put: Whitney would have wanted the music to go on.'

Tony Bennett, who was the evening's first performer, said as he took to the stage: 'First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston. Let's legalize drugs, like Amsterdam, it's a very sane city now.'

Producer Jimmy Jam said her death was a 'bittersweet irony' given that Davis heralded Houston as a great talent to watch when he had her perform at his party in her youth.

'The fact that it happened on this day, this event is where Clive Davis introduced Whitney to the world. We said hello to Whitney at the Clive Davis (gala), it may be appropriate we're saying our first goodbyes to Whitney at a Clive Davis event.

Homage: The attendees paid tribute to Whitney and observed a moment of silence as an image of the star was projected onto a screen

Mentor: Clive Davis said he was 'personally devastated' by Whitney's death as he addressed his guests at the event

'In a weird way it's appropriate, the show must go on. I think Whitney would have wanted that to happen. ... Tonight I think we begin to celebrate and remember.'

Houston was supposed to appear at the gala, and Davis had told The Associated Press that she would perhaps perform: 'It's her favourite night of the year ... (so) who knows by the end of the evening,' he said.

The I Will Always Love You singer had been at rehearsals for the Grammys on Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorised to speak publicly about it.

The person said Houston looked dishevelled, was sweating profusely and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

'Whitney would have wanted the music to go on': Clive Davis paid tribute to his protegee on stage

Remembering the greats: Tony Bennett also spoke out about the deaths of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse as he took to the stage at the pre-Grammys event

Two days ago, she performed at a pre-Grammy party with singer Kelly Price.

Rosen said police received an emergency call from hotel security about Houston at 3:43 pm Los Angeles time today, and paramedics were already at the hotel because of a Grammy party.

Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the singer, the lieutenant said.

The Reverend Al Sharpton said he would call for a national prayer Sunday morning during a service at Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

'The morning of the Grammys, the world should pause and pray for the memory of a gifted songbird,' Sharpton said in a written statement.