Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston: A Love Story

Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston: A Love Story

Whitney Houston was a stunning woman blessed with an impossibly powerful voice who became an international superstar. She released an unprecedented seven No. 1 singles in a row—from ”Saving All My Love For You” to “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”—and starred in hit movies like The Bodyguard and Waiting To Exhale. But somewhere along the way, she descended into drug dependency and despair.

The standard explanation was that she had been led astray by her husband. Check out the first sentence of her Associated Press obituary: “Whitney Houston, who was pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use and her regal image was tarnished by erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died on the eve of the Grammy Awards she once reigned over.”

 

Four cops came and got me, guns drawn," said Bobby.“Then this is me on the side,” Whitney added, laughing, “I’m going, 'Come on baby! Jump in the car! We’ll make an escape!'

 

This “Beauty and the Beast” theory of Houston’s decline was reinforced by an infamous Bobby-bashing Oprah Winfrey interview—part of the press roll-out for Houston’s attempt at a comeback album, I Look To You, which debuted at No. 1 in 2009. But breaking up with Bobby Brown didn’t actually solve her problems. She began missing tour dates for “exhaustion” and the whole cycle of denial and enabling began all over again. 

Bethann Hardison, who had known Whitney ever since she was a 16-year-old fashion model at Click Agency, told me back then that Bobby and Whitney were “soul mates” who were meant to be together, despite the difficulties they faced. “I have such great respect for their relationship,” Hardison said. “There’s a serious, serious bond between them.”

Despite widespread speculation that Bobby was responsible for ruining Whitney’s life, Bethann Hardison, for one, was not buying it. “Bobby is a lovely guy with an extraordinary heart,” she said then. “He is truly not the reason for Whitney’s troubles, whatever they are.”

Part of this perception came from Houston’s carefully controlled image. “Whitney was always a pretty girl, and she comes off as more of an American darling,” Hardison explained. “No one can sit back and say, Aw man, you think she can sing well? It’s not debatable. You think she’s cute? It’s not debatable. She has done things that no one can deny. And people feel that once you’ve touched them, they have something to say about you. So they couldn’t understand what she saw in Bobby. With all the good looking guys around—why him? With all the people who may have a certain stature—why him?”

Whitney wore a ring with an ice-cube-sized rock on it that night in the restaurant. Although she didn’t talk much, she would sometimes use her hands to pound drum rolls on the table or play air piano. From time to time, Bobby would reach over, put his hand on her neck and say, “Calm down, baby.”

Asked about an old photo of Bobby and Whitney with Biggie, Whitney responded immediately. “That was at a club,” she recalls. “He was waiting outside and we took that picture. He was a real gangster,” Whitney said, repeating the phrase “real gangster” for emphasis. “I was familiar with Faith, cause we both grew up in Newark,” Whitney added. “She was no joke. She went to church right up Clarendon Avenue and I would see her sing in my church and she would see me sing in her church. She was a good friend of mine.”

Atlantic Seafood happened to be the same restaurant where Bobby had been arrested a year or so prior after the couple snuck out on the last night of Bobby’s house arrest—the result of various probation violations stemming from a seven-year-old drunk-driving case.

“The funny thing about it is that we knew we shouldn’t have went out,” Whitney said, laughing.

“We shouldn’t have gone out that night,” Bobby agreed with a toothy grin. “I don’t know what we were thinking.”

“I was in the house going like this,” Whitney recalled, clenching her fists. “We had been in the house. He couldn’t go out and I was like, Yo...”

“It was my last day though,” Bobby said.

“It was the last day,” Whitney affirmed. “Last day of the house arrest... So we tested the waters and thought, ‘Oh Nooo. Fuck it.’”

One of the patrons in the restaurant saw them that night and pulled out her cell phone—but not to take a picture. The Atlanta evening news played a tape recording of her 911 call. “Uhh, what are you supposed to do if you see somebody who has a warrant for their arrest?” asked a female voice with a syrupy Georgia drawl.

“Just report it ma’am,” the police dispatcher replied, “and we’ll come right over.”

“Well, I see Bobby Brown in here,” his fellow diner said as if she’d just spotted a terrorist.

“I live not even four blocks from here.” Bobby recalled. “Four cops came and got me, guns drawn. They walked me out.”

“Then this is me on the side,” Whitney added, laughing, “I’m going, 'Come on baby! Jump in the car! Fuck it! We’ll make an escape!'”

Tags: whitney-houston, bobby-brown
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