Rene Angelil, Celine Dion's husband and former manager, dead at 73
Published Thursday, January 14, 2016 4:24PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 14, 2016 11:12PM EST
He managed some of the biggest music stars in Quebec and was considered the mastermind behind the province's most famous vedette, Celine Dion.
Rene Angelil died of cancer at his Las Vegas home Thursday morning. He was 73.
Angelil had been ailing for sometime, and a statement on Dion's Facebook page states he died after "a long and courageous battle against cancer."
Angelil broke into show business as a pop singer – in the early 60's, Angelil and two childhood friends formed The Baronets. The Montreal-based trio had success translating British and American hits into French.
After the group split, Angelil stayed in the music industry, managing artists like Rene Simard and Ginette Reno.
But it was the voice of a young girl from Charlemagne, Que. that changed his life. Angelil discovered Celine Dion when she was 12-years-old. He mortgaged his house to bankroll her first record, a risk that paid off.
“I decided to go all the way and do what I thought was best for her, do everything right for her,” he has said.
Dion would become an international superstar, selling more than 220 million albums worldwide.
But their successful business relationship would develop into something more – the two were 26 years apart in age, but they adored each other and fans adored them. They were married in 1994 at Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica. It was a wedding fit for royalty, with celebrity guests and adoring fans looking on.
Quebec pop star Celine Dion leaves the church with her husband Rene Angelil after their wedding ceremony in Montreal, Saturday, Dec. 17, 1994. (CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz)
He was diagnosed with cancer in the late 90s and again in 2013, which is when he stepped down as her manager.
In March, she appeared on 'Good Morning America' and, through tears, explained how she fed her husband three times a day with a feeding tube because he couldn't use his jaw.
Dion stepped away from singing in 2014 to care for her ailing husband. She returned to her show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in August.
The couple moved to Las Vegas to stop touring and start a family. They have three sons, Rene Charles and twins Eddy and Nelson. Angelil also has three children from previous relationships.
He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2013 and won Quebec's Felix Award for manager of the year twice, in 1987 and 1988.
Celine Dion and husband Rene Angelil pose for photos after being decorated with the Order of Canada in Quebec City on Friday July 26, 2013. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre tweeted the flags at Montreal's city hall will be lowered to half-mast in honour of Angelil.