Simon Cowell wanted Whitney Houston for The X Factor

Feb 13, 2012 at 8:28 a.m. ET

Had Whitney Houston lived, a career resurgence may have come in the form of a gig as a mentor on Simon Cowell's newly retooled talent show The X Factor.

There's a couple of vacant seats on the judges' panel on the U.S. X Factor and the singing show's executive producer Simon Cowell had considered giving one of them to Whitney Houston.

Cowell is leading the tributes to the singing superstar with the news that he was weighing making a business proposition to the powerhouse in the weeks before her death: The "So Emotional" songstress died in the bathtub of a suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday -- the eve of the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

Now the music mogul and talent show honcho says he'd hoped to sign "one of the greatest superstars of all time" to a contract to join the revamped second season of his ratings-strapped Fox talent show, The X Factor. Cowell has revealed he was discussing the possibility of Houston becoming an X Factor mentor in the wake of the recent firings of the show's host Steve Jones and pop singing judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger.

"We were ironically going to meet on Monday and of course one of the names we were going to be talking about in that meeting as a possible mentor on the new series of X Factor was actually going to be Whitney Houston," Simon told CNN's Piers Morgan shortly after news of Houston's death began making headlines.

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Prior to Whitney's death on Feb. 11, there were rumors that she was keen for a gig on The X Factor. Simon hinted she might have been the one who started them.

"The rumors that had got back to us… and that's often what happens when people want to be on these shows, somebody tells someone to get the word out, it's normally a sign that they are interested," he said.

"I have no idea genuinely whether she really was that interested or whether she would have," he added. "Given the choice, I would have liked to have taken her under my wing as well, because she would have been the ultimate, ultimate mentor to any contestant coming on the show."

Simon paid tribute to the 48-year-old telling Sky News she had "issues." Celebrity informants tattle that Whitney -- whose storied history with substance abuse sent her to rehab as recently as May -- had been downing drinks with her entourage at the posh Beverly Hills digs on Friday night.

Authorities allegedly believe a fatal combination of Xanax and alcohol killed the "I'm Every Woman" hit-maker.

"You're going to remember where you were when you heard the news…There are always moments in your life that are horrible to remember. The day John Lennon died, the day Elvis died," Simon continued.

"More recently Michael Jackson, last year Amy Winehouse and now Whitney. I know quite a few people who had been working with her over the years. We all knew Whitney had issues… I last met her when she came on The X Factor. You could see at the time there were still a few problems, but she was a delight to work with on the day. She probably wasn't all together, but it was still Whitney Houston and you were in the presence of a legend and I will never forget that day."

He added, "Whitney was a true diva, but I use that in the nicest possible way. She had one of the best voices I heard in my life ever."

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