On Aug. 31, pop singer Aaliyah Dana Haughton’s silver-plated casket was borne by a horse-drawn glass carriage along four blocks from a Manhattan funeral home to the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. Actress Peggy Lipton was part of the funeral procession. “The minute the fans lining the streets saw [the hearse], they let out this moan from the gut,” says Lipton, whose daughter with Quincy Jones, Kidada, was Aaliyah’s close friend. Then, outside the church, the crowd spontaneously began singing Aaliyah’s early hit “One in a Million.” The whole scene “was extraordinary,” says Lipton. “It was hard to hold it together.”
At the private memorial for the pop princess, who died in a plane crash Aug. 25 just after takeoff from the Bahamas, mourners such as Missy Elliott, Mike Tyson, Chris Rock and Usher did their best. They joined Aaliyah’s parents, Diane and Michael Haughton, both 50, of White Plains, N.Y.; brother Rashad, 24; and boyfriend, record executive Damon Dash, 30, in honoring the late singer. Diane Haughton held up until the end, says Lipton, when 22 doves—one for each year of Aaliyah’s life—were released outside the church. “Then she cried.”
The cause of the crash that killed seven members of the singer’s entourage and pilot Luis Antonio Morales III is still unresolved. Morales was not certified to fly the twin-engine Cessna 402B that would have taken Aaliyah, who had just shot a video on the Bahamian island of Abaco, back to Opalocka, Fla. He had also recently pleaded no contest to cocaine-possession charges. But investigators in the Bahamas are virtually certain the culprit was excess load. The plane could safely carry a load of some 2,183 lbs., but the weight of passengers, fuel and luggage may have exceeded that limit.
Whatever the cause, the effects remain unchanged. “It’s a tough time for the family,” Says Harold Guskin, Aaliyah’s acting coach since the late ’90s. “They are hurting terribly. More than it’s possible to imagine.”
Natasha Stoynoff in New York City, Don Sider and Siobhan Morrissey in Miami and Laura Albertelli in Puerto Rico