Aaliyah's epic final performance came month before tragic plane crash death

Vicki Newman August 25, 2022
Aaliyah's epic final performance came month before tragic plane crash death
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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Aaliyah was one of the biggest stars of the moment when her life was tragically cut short on August 25, 2001. She was just 22 when she was killed in a plane crash.

Her career may have ended abruptly at a very young age, but she made a big enough impact to be nicknamed both the Princess of R&B and the Queen of Urban Pop.

As today marks the 21st anniversary of her tragic death, The Focus takes a look back on the lasting legacy she left behind and the appearances that sadly became her last…

Taken too soon

Aaliyah first gained recognition at age 10 when she appeared on TV show Star Search and landed a recording contract when she was just 12 years old.

Aaliyah at ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ at the NBC Studios in Burbank, Ca. 7/25/01. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

She went on to release 26 singles, two compilation albums and three studio albums, with her last one – self-titled Aaliyah – dropping the month before her death.

Many more have been released since her death.

She’d made her film debut in 2000, starring in Romeo Must Die, also contributing to the soundtrack. She also starrd in Queen of the Damned, released the year after her death.

Who knows where her career would have taken her next, but she was undeniably one of the biggest stars of the time when her life came to a tragic end in 2001.

Aaliyah was on board an aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff, killing her and the other eight people on board.

Tragically, it turned out that the pilot was not qualified to fly the plane used for the journey and was also found to have traces of cocaine and alcohol in his body.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, which was settled out of court.

After her death, her music has continued to achieve success. She has sold more them 8 million albums in the US and is estimated to have sold up to 32 million albums worldwide.

She was also named by Billboard as one of the most successful female R&B artists of all time.

Final performance

Aaliyah gave what would become her final live performance on July 25, 2001.

She was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno when she took to the stage to perform More Than A Woman, which was released as a single following her death.

Introducing her, Jay says: “My next guest is a popular R&B singer and actress whose latest CD Aaliyah has gotten terrific reviews. Please welcome, Aaliyah.”

Backed up by a band and a troupe of dancers, Aaliyah gave an incredible performance of her song.

Dressed in black baggy trousers, a midriff-baring long-sleeved black shirt and a leather flat cap over her long raven locks, she looked sensational too.

The song went on to be a huge hit, particularly in the UK where it charted at number one.

Beyonce interviewed her on the red carpet

Aaliyah made her final ever red carpet appearance at the MTV Movie Awards in 2000, where believe it or not, she was interviewed by Beyonce.

The star said: “This is Beyonce on the red carpet with one of the hottest female artists out here.”

The stars complimented each other and chatted about their designer gowns and Aaliyah’s growing career.

Beyonce said: “You’ve been working it with these movies, were you nervous?”

Aaliyah answered: “Very nervous but I’m real happy, it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time so to finally make that transition, it’s great.”

Gone but not forgotten

Aaliyah’s fans took to social media to pay tribute to her on the anniversary of her passing.

One penned: “Forever in our [heart]s. Aaliyah #21YearsWithoutAaliyah”

Another wrote: “It hurts that we never got to experience Aaliyah’s growth as an Artist. 22 years was too short.”

A third tweeted: “21 YEARS & YOU STILL THE BEST TO EVER DO IT… RIP AALIYAH”

“RIP to the legendary Aaliyah,” another posted.

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Vicki is the Deputy Global Editor for Entertainment & Gaming and obsessed with all things showbiz. She was previously an Assistant Showbiz Editor at the Mirror, and is continuing to make a living off the back of her stalker-level knowledge of the Kardashians.