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Whitney: Where did it all go wrong?

MARRIAGE: Whitney Houston with former husband Bobby Brown

EVERYBODY SEEMS to be blaming Bobby Brown. Not for Whitney Houston’s death. No, of course not. He was nowhere near the Beverly Hills Hilton. He was thousands of miles away on tour with his group New Edition.

What they are pointing their finger at Whitney’s ex-husband about is in response to my question, ‘Where did it all go wrong?’

It’s the obvious question, because Whitney Houston had it all. She was beautiful and charming.

She had the pedigree in her mother Cissy Houston of Sweet Inspirations and her cousin Dionne Warwick. Her mentors, such as music mogul Clive Davis, were the most powerful men in the industry. And she was blessed, yes blessed, with that voice. Whitney acknowleged that it was a gift from God. How could she otherwise when she was, most importantly, brought up in the church.

Given the above factors and her level of wealth, success and fame, the question becomes more urgent, more pertinent. And everybody has an opinion.

In the last week or so, I’ve learned that many people blame Bobby Brown.


Reverend Jesse Jackson studiously side-stepped the question when I spoke to him on the night of her death, choosing instead to focus on the fact that she was raised in the church and, despite the fame and fortune, she remained a church girl until her dying breath.

He knew her as a child and as the world’s number one pop princess. It is interesting that his abiding memory of her is not as the diva, but as the shy little girl they called ‘Nippy’ at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey, long before it all went wrong.

As you would expect, Reverend Jackson kept his own counsel on Whitney’s marriage.

Paul Gambaccini, radio and TV’s so-called ‘professor of pop’, was less diplomatic. He laid the blame squarely at Bobby Brown’s twinkle toes. It all went wrong for Whitney Houston the day she told her best friend she was going to marry the late eighties ‘bad boy of pop’, he said. Her best friend must have thought she was out of her mind.

Many others share this view. I myself, like many other fellas, harbour a 20-year grudge against Bobby Brown for marrying Whitney in the first place, when I felt she deserved me.


On my Sunday night radio show, the day after Whitney died, the phone rang red-hot with callers who were equally outraged that the image of the ‘lily white’ girl-next-door that Whitney represented as a single girl was tarnished during her marriage.

The truth is that none of us know what drove Whitney Houston to a humiliating dependency on drugs. We only need to listen to her later albums to hear what it did to that heavenly gift. It hurt us to listen, imagine what the realisation that she had destroyed God’s blessing must have done to Whitney.

Despite her demons, Whitney stayed with Bobby for 14 years.

Where did it all go wrong for Whitney? TV star/photographer Normski and I got up close and personal with her on a press junket from London to Birmingham’s NEC to see her perform in the late eighties, when Whitney was at the top of her game. The second biggest pop star on the planet after Michael Jackson.

It was a fairy tale. She was Cinderella to Michael’s Peter Pan, and when she lost her slipper Bobby Brown picked it up. By then Whitney was already in fairy tale land, where there is no place for God.

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