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Manager who discovered Whitney Houston dies

By AFP

Austrian music manager Monti Lueftner, credited with discovering Whitney Houston, has died in traffic accident in Munich at the age of 77, police said Friday.

Lueftner worked in the music industry since the 1950s, most prominently helping develop the BMG group under German media giant Bertelsmann where he worked with Bob Marley, Tina Turner, Cat Stevens, Mireille Mathieu and Boney M.

His most lucrative discovery, however, was Houston, whom he heard sing in 1985 in New York and helped make into a global music phenomenon.

Houston told German celebrity magazine Bunte's website that she was shocked by Lueftner's sudden death on Thursday.

"When I met him, Monti Lueftner was already a legend in the music business. I will never forget the goodness and generosity that he showed me at the beginning of my career," Houston was quoted as saying. "I will miss him terribly."

A lifelong bachelor, Lueftner had a 15-year-old daughter from a liaison with former television presenter Isolde Tarrach.

Born in Austria in 1931, Lueftner developed a passion for the piano as a child and later organised student bands while at university in Vienna, booking gigs in local clubs.

In the 1959, he founded Ariola records for Bertelsmann and 13 years later became director of the group's media division where he worked until his retirement in 1991.

He was killed Thursday when he was hit by a truck while on foot at a recycling facility.

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