Share this article Share This was a woman who, despite at least three attempts at rehab in the past eight years, appeared fully in the grip of drug addiction: So why could nobody save Whitney Houston? In truth, having spent almost two decades destroying herself, she was past saving.
A duet with mum: In , aged 16, onstage with Cissy, a successful gospel singer Her voice, with her signature, high-octave power note, had been pitifully diminished by years of abuse, particularly the smoking of crack cocaine. The soaring vocals had become a soft, whispery falsetto. The years of material plenty were behind her, too.
Her first album was a huge hit Polished and globally famous Her home in New Jersey was said to be in danger of being repossessed. Another home in Atlanta already had been. There were hopes of yet another album from Whitney, despite the relatively poor performance of her comeback in , and she had recently been in the studio. She had also finished making a film, Sparkle, a showbiz saga about a trio of singers, which Sony has announced will still be released in August.
Still in command at the Brits Her most recent romantic partner was a year-old rapper, Ray J, who is chiefly famous for being the man in a homemade sex tape shot in , which made reality star Kim Kardashian famous.
He is also the cousin of rapper and drug advocate Snoop Dogg, so he was not the kind who might have been counted on to keep her on the straight and narrow.
Her cousin was Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin was her godmother. Known as Nippy as a child, she was the youngest of three children. Her mother divorced John Houston, an Army serviceman, but Whitney remained close to both parents. They supported her in her dreams of stardom — a fact she later said accounted for her enormous self-confidence. From the age of five she would sing in the choir at the All Hope Baptist church in Newark, where the family worshipped.
As a teenager, she started to get involved in the music business. Clive Davis of Arista records first laid eyes on her in , when she was 20, and was bowled over. It remains the best-selling debut album by a female artist in music history. It sold 25 million copies worldwide.
At the height of her powers: Glamorous in She would often travel with her mother. She put Robyn on her payroll, but was she something more? In , she met Bobby Brown at a music awards show, and they married in Daughter Bobbi Kristina was born a year later. But outside the spotlight, her life was far from perfect. She and Brown had settled in a huge mansion in New Jersey, complete with a pool and recording studio, but the marriage was not happy. He was accused of domestic violence against her in She said he had slapped her during a jealous argument.
On the slide, sick and haggard In his autobiography, Bobby Brown hints she deceived him about her true sexual orientation and that their marriage was designed to cover up her bisexuality. She became skeletally thin and appeared disoriented at times. She was fired from a slot on the Oscars ceremony in after singing the wrong song at rehearsals. Later that year, she and Brown were found to be carrying marijuana on a trip to Hawaii.
The secret is out: Nobody was very convinced by her denial. In , her sister-in-law leaked pictures to the Press of her bathroom in Atlanta — a sordid, dirty space covered with crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia — to try to shock her into sobriety. In , Davis tried again.
Whitney recalled in an interview: I want you back. Struggling to hold it together on the X Factor In denial about her problems, she says she resisted because she was happy being a mum to Bobbi Kristina.
Finally, though, Davis persuaded her that she needed to conquer her addictions and attempt a professional comeback. Eventually, she felt strong enough to end her marriage to Bobby Brown.
It had been the unhappiest of unions, riven by jealousy and drug use. They were divorced in Her comeback tour She also said that he was unfaithful. He was too promiscuous, dragging dirt into my home. The debt was pretty extraordinary given that she had sold more than million albums worldwide by then. Released in , her five-octave vocal register was gone thanks to smoking and crack use.
And when she launched the album at a hotel in London, it appeared that without the help of Boyd she had fallen back into her old ways. A nugget of what seemed to be crack cocaine fell from one of her pockets. There were repeated problems on the tour. High-profile promotional gigs — singing on TV chat shows — revealed her ragged form. And there were still plenty of signs of her infamous temperament. Whitney said repeatedly that her teenage daughter helped her to sobriety.
In , she said: Bobbi Kristina, now 19, was pictured last year snorting lines of cocaine at a party, smoking joints and drinking beer.
A former boyfriend told the National Enquirer magazine: Sadly, it appears not to have worked. She was out of control on an airplane to Houston in the autumn, when she narrowly avoided arrest after refusing to buckle her seatbelt. It seems that despite global fame and a constantly supportive family, nothing was enough to keep her clean. And my daughter is my greatest inspiration. Advertisement Share or comment on this article: Whitney Houston's cause of death: Singer sought oblivion in crack cocaine.