Houston’s best friend, who also claims to have been her lover, talked about the Grammy winner’s drug use in her NBC interview promoting her book, A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston. Houston died in 2012 by drowning, but cocaine use was a contributing factor, the coroner’s report said, and drug paraphernalia, including a "small spoon with a white crystal like substance in it and a rolled up piece of white paper,” was found on the scene.
Asked by Craig Melvin when she realized Houston had a problem, Crawford replied, “I would remind Whitney that, ‘Now you know we said doing coke couldn't go where we're going and we're already there. So we shouldn't be doing it.’
However, “I'd notice that she would go ahead and do it.” Crawford continued. “She was having difficulty stopping.”
Robyn Crawford, Whitney Houston’s best friend, discusses the late performer’s lifelong struggle with drugs.— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 8, 2019
Watch more of her exclusive interview with @craigmelvin tomorrow on @DatelineNBC. She’ll also join TODAY live on Monday morning. pic.twitter.com/JCAc2diuGi
Crawford’s book notes that Houston told her she first used cocaine at age 14.
Crawford met Houston as teens at a summer camp in 1980 and Crawford wrote in her book that they became sexually intimate. However, Houston called it off in 1983 when she signed a deal with Arista, allegedly telling Crawford having a same-sex romance would hurt her career. They remained the best of friends, however. with Crawford becoming her personal assistant, roommate and — when Houston married New Edition heartthrob Brown in 1992 — maid of honor. (In the ‘80s, Houston and Crawford denied they had a sexual relationship and Houston denied it many more times through the years.)
Melvin pointed out how Crawford writes in her book that Brown wasn’t the one to introduce Houston to drugs and didn’t “bring her down,” something he’s long been blamed for publicly. He said Crawford’s book states that Houston had been doing a fair amount of drugs before Brown came along.
“That’s true,” Crawford replied before elaborating, “She wasn't doing [drugs] regularly, but she would do it sometimes — and sometimes might overdo it.”
Crawford – who famously had a strained relationship with Brown – made it clear that Brown “didn’t introduce [Whitney] to cocaine. No.”
In Brown’s 2016 memoir, Every Little Step, he disputed reports that he was responsible for Houston’s drug and alcohol problems. He said Houston was actually the first to offer him cocaine — on their wedding day in 1992.
"It wasn't me that started her [on drugs],” he said in an interview promoting the book. He admitted they both had “terrible” addictions, especially "the last few years of our marriage." And they couldn’t break the cycle. When one of them would get clean, the other wouldn’t want to, leading to a “big struggle” and eventually their divorce.
"She just wasn't ready to go that direction," Brown said, referring to the reason behind Houston ultimately filing for divorce in 2006.
Brown also acknowledged in the book that they did drugs at home while their daughter, Bobbi Kristina, was present. While they tried not to do hard drugs in front of her, he acknowledged, "It’s hard when, you know, you’re doing it every day." (Bobbi Kristina died in 2015 in a manner eerily similar to her mother’s death.)
Whitney Houston’s mom, Cissy, wrote in her 2013 book, Remembering Whitney: My Story of Love, Loss, and the Night the Music Stopped, that she did not "blame Bobby for introducing Nippy,” Houston’s nickname, “to drugs or for the things that ended up happening to her. At the same time, I also don't believe he did much to help her... When it came to getting clean, he and Nippy never seemed to be in the same place at the same time, and that made the process much harder."
And while Cissy wrote that she didn’t like Crawford, she acknowledged that Crawford was the first person to come to her to tell her that Houston had a drug problem.
Crawford wrote in her book about approaching Houston — with Houston’s father, John — in an attempt to get her to go to rehab, but the singer allegedly said she wasn’t ready. Crawford wrote she then realized she could no longer protect Houston — after two decades of doing so — and she quit working for her in 2000.
The 2018 documentary Whitney also claimed the narrative that Brown was responsible for corrupting Houston was false, alleging that it was concocted by her record label and was maintained by the Houston family to save her reputation. Rudi Dolezal, one of the directors of the documentary said the rumor Brown was to blame was “a fairy tale. The idea that Whitney was a great girl until Bobby came along is simply not true. Whitney took drugs and smoked weed a long time before she could even spell ‘Bobby Brown.’ ”
And in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston’s brother Michael confessed to getting his sister started on cocaine in her late teens. He said, “At the time, the ’80s, it was acceptable . . . [drugs] wasn’t a bad word like it is now.”
Houston and Brown met at the 1989 Soul Train Awards and their relationship played out in the tabloids. While they were together, Houston infamously denied using crack cocaine, though not drugs, in an uncomfortable interview with Diane Sawyer. “First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Crack is cheap,” she replied defiantly. “I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight, OK. We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is wack.”
Photos of Houston’s alleged drug den — later repurposed by Kanye West for Pusha T’s album Daytona — also caused concern. The photos — of Houston’s drug-filled bathroom — were featured on the cover of the National Enquirer in 2006 a month after she filed for divorce.
Cissy recalled in her book visiting the home Houston and Brown shared in Atlanta just prior to their divorce. She said walls and doors were spray-painted with "big glaring eyes and strange faces. Whitney's face had been cut out from a framed family picture. Cissy, who had previously taken part in intervention for her daughter in 2000 after she was dropped from the Oscars, got a court order and Houston was taken to a hospital for a week followed by rehab in Antigua for a month.
It didn’t end her troubles — which continued to the very end.
Crawford, now a fitness trainer, is featured in a Dateline special called “A Song for Whitney,” which airs Saturday. Her first live interview will be Monday on the Today show. Her book comes out on Nov. 12.
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