Celine Dion's husband Rene Angelil dies at 73
Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 4:27PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 14, 2016 10:01PM EST
Celine Dion’s husband and manager Rene Angelil, who is often credited with discovering the Quebec super-star’s larger-than-life singing voice, has died. He was 73.
His death was confirmed in a statement on Celine Dion’s official Facebook page Thursday afternoon.
Angelil had undergone treatment for throat cancer since 1999. His condition improved, but he underwent a major operation for the cancer in December 2013.
A Nevada coroner confirmed that Angelil died of natural causes. No further investigation is required.
The Montreal-born music manager was a guiding force in Dion’s career after discovering the young chanteuse when she was just 12 years old.
The couple, who are 26 years apart in age, later fell in love and went on to have a lavish wedding ceremony in 1994 at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. Dion, 26, wore an ornate crystal headpiece and guests included Canadian A-listers such as former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
The elaborate service was a major media spectacle in Quebec, with some comparing it to a royal wedding.
In August 2014, Dion temporarily put her career on hold to help care for her ailing husband, who stepped down as her manager three months earlier. She cancelled her Las Vegas tour and a scheduled tour through Asia to focus on Angelil, who was only able to eat from a feeding tube.
When Dion returned to her eponymous Las Vegas show the following August, she told USA Today that Angelil’s wish was to die in her arms. He also gave her detailed instructions for a funeral service.
The decision to return to the Vegas concert, Dion said, came from Angelil.
“I think I've got this. For now,” she told USA Today at the time. “When it hits me, it's going to hit me. But my biggest job is to tell my husband we're fine. I'll take care of our kids. You'll watch us from another spot."
Her renewed show included a song dedicated to Angelil, “The First Time I Ever I Saw Your Face,” which Dion sang as home videos of the family played on a screen behind her.
Angelil was born to a Syrian father and Quebecois mother in Montreal in 1942. Known for his raspy voice, he enjoyed a modest singing career in the 1960s after he dropped out of school to start a band with friends, dubbed Les Baronnets. The group toured around North America for several years before splitting apart in 1972.
He later transitioned into music management and discovered Dion after the singer’s mother mailed him a tape of her singing. Angelil reportedly took out a mortgage on his home to produce her first album.
The young starlet earned early accolades in Quebec before her first English-language album, “Unison,” launched her to mainstream international success in 1990.
The couple lived together in Las Vegas with their three sons, Rene-Charles, Eddy and Nelson. Angelil also had three children from two earlier marriages.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre joined a chorus of support on Twitter offering condolences to Dion and her family.
My condolences to @CelineDion, and to the children, friends and loved ones of René Angélil on his passing.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 14, 2016
With files from the Canadian Press