Perhaps he chose the worst week to die, with adulation remaining feverish in the wake of David Bowie’s passing. But René Angélil, the architect and force behind Celine Dion’s meteoric ascent, quietly passed on Thursday following a long battle with throat cancer.
Angélil, 73, died behind the scenes at the couple’s Las Vegas estate, just days before his 74th birthday. He is survived by Dion, their three children, plus three additional children from two previous marriages.
That location of Angélil’s death no accident. Las Vegas is the city where Dion has enjoyed a long, lucrative residence, specifically the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Last year, Dion commanded the third-highest concert ticket price in the US, with an average of $162.44 paid. Vegas has been kind to other ebbing superstars as well, most notably Britney Spears, whose average ticket price at Planet Hollywood is a lofty $136.83.
All smart thinking by a very smart manager, one who identified and chartered a high-wattage pop star career for multiple decades. Indeed, René Angélil first encountered Dion when she was 12, and subsequently married her at age 19, perhaps the creepiest marriage ever but one that also survived the test of time. These days, Dion is in her late-40s, with mathematics normalizing the once-uncomfortable age difference between the pair.
Either way, Angélil will be remembered for his shrewd music and business instincts. Prior to managing Celine, Angélil was a French-Canadian manager with some clout in his home base of Montreal, a position that prompted the Dion family to doggedly pursue his support. It worked, with Angelil mortgaging his house to finance the early stages of Dion’s career.
The rest, as they say…