Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston: A Love Story

Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston: A Love Story

Say what you will about Whitney and Bobby, but they were devoted to each other.

The night of Whitney Houston’s death, I typed her name in Spotify, hoping that her voice might fill the empty space. As often happens after artists pass away, her work seemed suddenly transformed, resonating with new layers of meaning.

The song “Heartbreak Hotel” brought to mind the Beverly Hilton where the singer’s body was discovered in a fourth-floor bathroom—and where Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy party went on as scheduled later that evening. “I Have Nothing” was almost too much to bear, with Whitney singing “Don’t make me close one more door; I don’t want to hurt anymore.”

But perhaps the most wrenching song of all was “My Love Is Your Love,” from her 1998 album of the same name—the strongest of Houston’s later recordings. Hearing young Bobbi Kristina say “sing, Mommy” at the top of the song was hard enough, but then Whitney went ahead and sang these words: “If tomorrow was judgment day, and I’m standing on the front line, and the Lord asked me what I did with my life, I will say I spent it with you.”

Those poignant lyrics sent my mind flashing back to the evening of August 28, 2004. I had been invited to dinner with Whitney and Bobby—along with Bobby's brother Tommy and his father "Pops"—by Tracey Baker and Wanda Shelley, the producers of the hit reality show Being Bobby Brown. What was clear to me then remains clear now.

And on this bittersweet Valentine's Day, which falls just three days after Whitney's Houston's tragic passing, and one day after Bobby faced a ravenous mob of reporters while trying to get to his daughter's bedside, it is worth repeating the truth: In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, Bobby and Whitney were hopelessly devoted to each other—truly, madly, deeply.

Upon entering the dimly lit Atlantic Seafood restaurant in Alpharetta, Georgia, the R&B star once known as “King of the Stage” greeted me with a warm handshake. He was wearing a black fitted cap, baggy jeans, black boots, and a black Iceberg shirt with the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character on it. “Hi! I’m Bobby Brown,” he said. “Have you met my wife?”

 

'[Bobbi Kristina] is ready to record now,' Bobby said with fatherly pride. At which point Whitney, who hadn’t been saying much until then, shook her head and said 'NO!'

 

At first it seemed like a ridiculous question—his wife was, after all, one of the most famous recording artists in history—but on second thought I realized that the correct answer was “no.”

Whitney’s hair was up and her tight jeans had light-blue Japanese characters artfully scattered here and there. She looked fit and beautiful, her model physique still very much intact at age 40. But she also seemed restless. There was no trace of inner calm, that “greatest love of all” that she sang about finding inside of her so many years ago.

“My wife will have salmon and steamed rice,” Bobby told the waitress. When his sushi platter arrived, Bobby politely sent it back so the eel could be cooked a bit more. Then the couple got back to discussing their daughter’s ambition to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become a singer. “She’s ready to record now,” Bobby said with fatherly pride—at which point Whitney, who hadn’t been saying much until then, shook her head and said “NO!”

“Whitney doesn’t want it,” Bobby continued. 

“Sheee-it,” Whitney whispered loudly, leaving unsaid all the hard lessons she had learned since signing her first recording contract at age 20.

Bobby kept going: “I don’t think there’s a better industry—only because I love it. I love it. I love everything about it. I got caught up in the press part of it, you know, the bad press, the good press. It really doesn’t matter. As long as you spell my name right, talk about me. It doesn’t matter to me. As long as [Whitney] knows who I am... it really doesn’t matter what other people think about me.”

Whitney then looked up and said, “You would think he is a bad man—a bad, bad man.”

“You’d really think I was a bad person,” Bobby chimed in.

Then, making the sound of a game-show buzzer, Whitney added: “I’m the crazy one!”

Tags: whitney-houston, bobby-brown
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