By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
Good girl meets bad boy. Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were one of music’s most controversial, sizzling and talked-about couples. Her girl-next-door appeal and squeaky clean image didn’t exactly mesh with the New Edition frontman’s penchant for trouble–many fans attributed him for her ultimate unraveling–yet they had a connection that was undeniable. Whitney met Bobby officially at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. From day one, fans were perplexed by the match up.
After a three year romance, the two were married on July 18, 1992. Their wedding was a musical fairytale profiled in Jet (August 17, 1992). Set at her New Jersey estate, the nuptials were attended by the Who’s who of the celebrity world of the time like Donald Trump, Gloria Estefan, New Edition, Dionne Warwick, Babyface and Teddy Riley. The couple exchanged platinum wedding rings: hers engraved “Love Bobby” and his, “Love Whitney.” Things were seemingly perfect and a year later, Whitney gave birth to their only daughter together Bobbi Kristina.
The relationship would quickly turn turbulent for most of the 90s and early 2000s and riddled by Bobby’s mounting run-ins with the law, the two were unofficially dubbed the new “Ike and Tina Turner.” Fans blamed Bobby for Whitney’s increasingly ravaged physique and her bizarre behavior, with missed shows and a general lackadaisical attitude towards her career. Rumors of spousal and drug abuse abounded in light of this descent. On January 11, 2000, airport security discovered marijuana in the couple’s luggage. Charges were later dropped against her and Brown, but other legal issues would continue to plague the duo.
In 2003, Bobby was charged with misdemeanor battery after he allegedly struck his wife in the face during a heated domestic altercation. Houston initially called the cops but stood by her man in court. She appeared with a visible bruise on her left cheek but held hands with her husband. The pair then left with their arms around each other as Houston exclaimed, “We’re still together,” according to reps onsite. Whitney’s publicist issued a statement from a family spokesperson that read, “Bobby Brown is very apologetic about what happened and hopes his wife forgives him.” On February 27, 2004, Bobby was sent to jail for a number of probation violations including the aforementioned battery charge.
In 2005, the couple appeared on the reality TV show Being Bobby Brown. This insider peek into the couple’s domestic life proved a bit of a train wreck; dramatic and more cringe-worthy than doing much to dispel the rumors. A year later, after 14 years of marriage, Whitney and Bobby separated officially and filed for divorce. Ironically, just months earlier, Brown told People magazine. “It doesn’t matter what people say. They want to try to break us down anyway. That’s not for us. We’re here, and we’re gonna be together for a long time, so people can expect us to stay together. … I’m with my wife for the duration — and that’s life.” The divorce was finalized on April 24, 2007 and Whitney was granted full custody of daughter Bobbi Kristina.
Finally opening up, Bobby shed light into the relationship in his 2008 biography Bobby Brown: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But …. “I mean, I’m guilty of getting upset and flying off the handle a little,” Brown said of the alleged domestic abuse. “I was known to throw a bottle or two at a wall or something. Things that I’d regret, I would be responsible for cleaning up or having the wall repaired. What people fail to realize is that Whitney is no punk. She definitely knows how to handle and defend herself in situations that could have potentially been violent. Some of the stories in the media made me out to be like Ike Turner, when that wasn’t my character.” He also said that it was Whitney who was the bad influence and introduced him to hard drugs. “I never used cocaine until after I met Whitney. Before then, I had experimented with other drugs, but marijuana was my drug of choice.”
In 2009, Whitney gave her own take of things in an explosive sit-down with Oprah. She openly admitted to physical and drug use and instead of blaming Bobby, seemed to join him in solidarity. “He was my drug,” she said. “I didn’t do anything without him. I wasn’t getting high by myself. It was me and him together, and we were partners, and that’s what my high was — him. He and I being together, and whatever we did, we did it together. No matter what, we did it together.”
A united front until the end.
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