Anthony Breznican
February 11, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EST

Legendary producer Quincy Jones paid his own tribute to Whitney Houston, who died at the age of 48.

Jones recalled how the husband and wife songwriting duo of the late Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson (known for such hits as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing”) tipped him off to her talent in the late ’70s, when Houston still just a kid.

“I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney’s passing,” Jones said in a statement. “Ashford & Simpson first made me aware of Whitney when she was just sixteen, and I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly.”

Read more:

Whitney Houston, superstar of records, film, dies

Grammys: Whitney Houston tribute already in the works

Celebs react to Whitney Houston death: ‘Please tell me it’s not true’

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