For decades, as the world watched Whitney Houston crash and burn, reduced to a fraction of her former stardom because of her debilitating addiction, many fans placed the blame squarely at the feet of her ex-husband Bobby Brown. But in a revealing interview with Oprah Winfrey, Whitney’s older brother, Michael Houston, admits that he is the one who introduced his sister to drugs in the ’80s — and he’s lived with the guilt ever since.
“I feel responsible for what I let go so far,” he told Oprah in an exclusive interview on Oprah’ s Next Chapter. ‘”We were always, you know, being together most of the time, and her following behind me — I taught her to drive. We played together — everything that you do together as you’re growing up — and then when you get into drugs, you do that together too, and it just got out of hand.”
“So was the first time she tried freebasing cocaine, or cocaine, crack, whatever … are you the one who introduced it to her?” Winfrey asked pointedly.
“I would say, yeah, we did everything together, so once I was into that, then she followed suit,” Michael said quietly.
“I think probably the first time we ever, she ever did it was probably, you know — but you gotta understand, at the time, the ’80s, it was acceptable…. In the entertainment industry it was just like, available. It wasn’t like a bad word like it is now. You know what I’m saying? We didn’t know. We just didn’t know.”
The revelation came as Houston makes the media rounds to promote her tell-all book about her famous daughter, “Remembering Whitney.”
Even though she held her son’s hand through his confession, and mentioned it in her book, she still claims that Brown was a bad influence on her daughter:
“I do believe her life would have turned out differently,” Houston writes. “It would have been easier for her to get sober and stay sober. Instead she was with someone who, like her, wanted to party. To me, he never seemed to be a help to her in the way she needed.”
Michael said that Whitney listened to him and that he “battled demons” because he didn’t take care of her as well as he should have. When asked directly by Oprah did Bobby Brown have anything to do with Whitney’s initiation into drugs, he admitted that Whitney had been taking drugs long before Brown stepped into the picture.
Long painted as the villain by the Houston family, Brown always claimed that Whitney was the reason that he started taking hard drugs. Until that point, the singer claimed in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, he only drank and smoked marijuana:
“I didn’t get high before I met Whitney…I worried about it when … we first got together until I tried it,” he said. “And when I tried it, for some reason, I have an addictive personality.”
When asked how did he felt when people blamed him for his ex-wife’s death, Brown said simply:
“I feel bad, but I know…I’m not the reason she’s gone.”
Whitney accidentally drowned Feb. 11, 2012, in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel the night of her mentor Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party. Traces of cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril and Benadryl were found in her system. Heart disease and damage from years of cocaine use were listed by the coroner as contributing factors in her death.