Here’s a UK MailExclusive, very long read, but interesting. It appears Whitney didn’t just give us her awesome talent; she also gave the world a good example of how not to live or love.
Welshman David Roberts was a constant companion to Whitney Houston
He traveled the world as her security guard in the 1980s and early Nineties
Here, he recalls her decline into drug abuse after meeting Bobby Brown
Since her birth, Roberts has worried about Bobbi Kristina and her care
It has been the painful and very public unraveling of an American Dream. Millions of fans around the world watched appalled as Whitney Houston, the ultimate diva of her generation, descended into the chaotic ravages of drug abuse and then, eventually, death at 48.
And now, just three years later, her fate has been replicated in an equally shocking style.
Today the singer’s 21-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, herself a drug addict, lies in a coma, hovering close to death.
To many, her fate has seemed grimly predictable, but few have been more affected than one man who sits, watching, many hundreds of miles away from Bobbi Kristina’s anxious family.
For seven years of his life, Welshman David Roberts was a constant companion to Whitney, a minder, fixer, and wise counsel, too.
David Roberts (circled) with a pregnant Whitney and Bobby Brown in 1992. The Welshman spent years at the singer's side as a security guard before her death at the age of 48
He was not just her bodyguard – but The Bodyguard, who helped inspire the role which established her as the golden girl of Hollywood.
Like the hero played by Kevin Costner, Roberts was a Special Forces-trained operative who lived constantly by her side.
There may have been no romantic involvement, but Roberts was the real-life recipient of a note under his hotel door saying: ‘I will always love you’ – the title of the power ballad from the film that became more famous than the movie itself.
Whitney trusted him with her life. Yet unlike the character on screen, Roberts proved tragically unable to save her – or her daughter.
Now, aghast at the latest twist of fate to assail Whitney’s family and her legacy, the bodyguard has finally decided to tell how one of the most glamorous women on the planet was brought low by a disastrous cocktail of alcohol, celebrity and hard drugs. And he is not slow to point the finger of blame.
In his first interview since he finally left Whitney’s household, he recalls how her toxic marriage to ‘bad boy’ rapper Bobby Brown eclipsed her talent and she began the descent into helpless addiction.
It was a world, he says, in which the infant Bobbi Kristina would wear £20,000 diamond earrings – while witnessing her parents consume paralysing quantities of drugs.
After Bobbi Kristina’s birth in 1993, Roberts worried she would have little choice but to follow the same path as her mother.
He takes no satisfaction from being proved right.
‘That girl had no chance from the start,’ he says.
‘She was born into chaos. Her father was instrumental in her mother’s downfall.
‘Everyone is responsible for their own actions, but Whitney was vulnerable. She was obsessed with Bobby Brown and he subjected her to so much psychological abuse that she lost everything, including her dignity.
'I watched Bobbi Kristina as a little girl, running around the corridors of hotels we were staying in, surrounded by the degenerates who were supposed to be looking after her, and I worried for her future.
‘When I heard what had happened to Bobbi Kristina, I wasn’t surprised, but I was angry.
‘Everything good Bobby Brown’s ever had in his life, he’s destroyed – his career, Whitney, and now Bobbi Kristina. She’s another victim of his poisonous personality.’
On January 31, Bobbi Kristina was found in the same awful circumstances as her mother had been, lying face-down and unresponsive in the bath. Bobbi’s partner Nick Gordon is said to be devastated.
Roberts, now 62, retains his Welsh lilt and speaks in slow, measured tones. He has a fatherly air at odds with his toughness, although the latter is evident in the prominent scar on his head acquired while defending Houston during a fight between her brother, Michael, and a gang of racist thugs in Kentucky.
His association with Whitney started purely by chance. But within a short space of time he was not just protecting her, but keeping her whirlwind life and career intact.
He had been a police officer and then a sergeant in the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department of Scotland Yard. He saw action in Northern Ireland and was later trained as a sniper. He was also involved in the Iranian embassy siege in 1980 in London. In 1984 he started his own security and investigations consultancy.
In February 1988, he was asked by the American embassy to look after Whitney Houston during a forthcoming visit to London. He’d never heard of her. Their first encounter was at Heathrow airport, where she was arriving on Concorde. She was surrounded by a huge entourage – including her friend and rumoured lesbian lover Robyn Crawford – and Roberts was introduced to her only briefly.
However, a night out a few days later brought him to the attention of the American security team travelling with her.
He recalls: ‘She went to Browns nightclub, and there was a scuffle as she left, with photographers swarming to take pictures of her.
‘One guy was trying to climb into the Rolls-Royce to get to her, so I blocked him and his camera fell to the ground and smashed.
David Roberts was Whitney Houston's bodyguard for years and inspired the role played by Kevin Costner in her hit film.
‘Because I’d done my job – with the benefit of local knowledge – the former FBI security guy who was looking after her hired me to continue providing security for the whole of her British tour, followed by her European tour, and then as director of security on a Far East tour.’
Roberts quickly found himself personally guarding Whitney outside her hotel door as she slept at night.
‘We developed a rapport and I liked her immensely,’ he says. ‘At that time, she was a very professional and articulate but slightly shy and unworldly woman.
‘She had a wonderful sense of humour. We had a lot of fun.’
Roberts believes that she had already experimented with drugs at this stage, although he saw no sign of them.
He was then asked to arrange the security for her 26th birthday party at her house in New Jersey.
She attended on the arm of actor Eddie Murphy, but Roberts noticed a new male presence. ‘A bus pulled up at the house and three guys got off.
One of them was wearing a turquoise and white floral shorts suit, black loafers and white socks.
‘I asked if I could help him and he said he was Bobby Brown and that he had an invitation to come to the party. Later in the evening, I saw him dancing with Whitney in a way they would call dancing but other people might describe as sexual assault. And that was it.’
Life for Roberts became a cycle of going on tour for three months, then returning home to London for two or three weeks.
‘It wasn’t a job, it was a vocation,’ he says. ‘It left no room in my life for anything else, including my wife at the time. I had to be there for Whitney, or Nippy, as her friends and family called her, whenever she needed me.
‘Once, she called for me because her false tooth had fallen down the sink in her hotel room in Hong Kong. I couldn’t retrieve it, so we had to take her to a dentist to get it fixed. I didn’t mind. We had a bond.
‘On tour, she’d push little notes under my hotel room door, messages saying thank you. Once, she wrote, “I will always love you”, years before the song came out. She was sweet, and I think she saw me as a sort of protective uncle figure.’
Officially, Houston and Brown’s romance did not begin until 1991, although Roberts says Brown had become a fixture long before that.
‘I could see the effect he was having on her. She became obsessed by where he was and what he was doing. She didn’t trust him, and the emotional stress manifested itself in her starting to lose her temper. She was unhappy; there wasn’t the same laughter there had been.’
From the start, their pairing was an unlikely one.
Whitney, already America’s sweetheart whose eponymously titled first album remains the bestselling debut by a female artist in music history, was the product of a showbusiness dynasty.
Her mother was Cissy Houston, a singer, and her father John Houston, a powerful entertainment manager. Dionne Warwick was her cousin and Aretha Franklin her honorary aunt.
After starting their romance in the early 1990s, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston fell into the habit of binge-drinking and drug-taking. Their daughter, Bobbi Kristina (right with her late mother) is also a drug addict
By contrast, Brown was involved in gang violence from an early age. He had become successful with the group New Edition before becoming a solo artist, but drug abuse, accusations of rape and other criminal activities dogged him throughout his career.
Brown began to travel with Houston when she went on tour, and the pair would often hole themselves up in their hotel room with large quantities of alcohol.
‘Every two days, a bottle of brandy and a couple of crates of Heineken would go in, and then he’d be too ill to do anything for a day, and the following day he’d start the process again,’ says Roberts.
‘The only time I saw any drugs until the very end of my time with her was before Brown was on the scene, when we arrived in Long Island for a show and Whitney’s maid Sylvia asked me to retrieve Whitney’s glasses case, which she’d left on the bus. It was full of weed.
‘But I knew they were taking drugs together, because everyone knew.
‘As time went on, she started to cancel performances and events because she wasn’t well, and it was obvious why.’ He believes Houston willingly allowed herself to be dragged down by Brown.
‘I think that to make him feel less uncomfortable about his inadequacies, and the fact she was more successful than him, she went down to his level. That meant joining him in his habits. When they were out together, they were loud and brash. They used bad language and had arguments to attract attention. It was embarrassing.’
Wherever Brown went, chaos followed. During one visit to London, Roberts received an urgent call at 4am from Houston’s driver.
‘Brown was having a fight with Michael Houston on the Embankment. They’d been at Browns nightclub, and they’d apparently met a man who had £250,000 worth of cocaine with him and was trying to sell it.
‘The fight started because Bobby wanted to go back to the club and rob this man of the drugs and money. Michael was trying to stop him.’
In 1992, Houston made The Bodyguard film. The similarities between the plot of the film and Roberts’s involvement with the star was a source of amusement to them both.
‘When I saw it, I was amazed,’ he says. ‘Whitney wasn’t acting; it was her life. I saw Kevin Costner doing everything for her that I did… obviously without the sex and the shooting! Whitney and I joked about it.
‘Her name in the film, Rachel Marron, was the name I used to book her into hotels. We were staying in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas one night after filming had finished and she asked me to come to her room and listen to her new song. It was I Will Always Love You, and I told her it was the best song she’d ever done. At that point, she had everything.’
But one evening that spring, Roberts was in a restaurant in Atlanta having dinner with Whitney and her entourage.
He recalls: ‘She said to me, “David, I think I’m going to marry Bobby.” I said,
“Really, boss?” She said, “Yes. What do you think?”
‘I just didn’t know how to say to her, “Please God, no, don’t do it.” ’
They married in 1992 in a lavish ceremony at her home.
Brown cheated on Houston frequently before they divorced in 2007, and Roberts believes it was a deliberate policy aimed at chipping away at her self-esteem.
Roberts says: ‘Her behaviour was similar to battered wife syndrome, which I’d seen in my time in the police. He was jealous of her success, so he rubbed her face in his cheating, but she forgave him every possible indiscretion. I just couldn’t understand it. And it ate away at her.’ As Whitney later admitted: ‘He was too promiscuous, dragging dirt into my home. It disturbed me.’
Once, she was about to go on-stage at a big open-air concert in Lexington, Kentucky, when she decided to call Brown in Atlanta.
‘A woman answered the phone, so immediately, she wanted to fly to Atlanta to find out what he was doing,’ says Roberts. ‘The crowds were already arriving, but she cancelled the show. We had to find a doctor to say she had lost her voice, and then arrange a private jet.
‘We flew to Atlanta, and when we arrived, Whitney and Brown had a furious argument. Fifteen minutes later, they were having sex. That’s the way it always was.
‘He and I were alone together in a bar one night in Germany, and he was telling me he’d changed and become a Muslim. But that evening, he left with two prostitutes. He tried to offer one to me.’
Houston and Brown have admitted that it was around the time of The Bodyguard that they began to take drugs together every day, often cocaine-laced cannabis joints. Bobbi Kristina was born the following year, in 1993, and Roberts was dismayed by the arrangements her parents made for her care and concerned about the background of some of the characters trusted to look after the toddler.
‘Whitney and Bobby bought Bobbi Kristina diamond ear-rings worth $20,000, information that appeared in the press, so I was very worried about her safety. I suggested to Bobby that they take them out of her ears, but because I’d suggested it, he refused.
He knew I disliked him intensely and it was mutual.’
By the time Houston filmed the movie Waiting To Exhale in 1995, her drug-taking had begun to have a serious impact on her health.
‘She took an overdose of cocaine, and filming had to be halted for a week,’ he says. ‘Her throat doctor told me that he was giving her eight months to stop the habit or she’d never be able to sing again.
‘I was horrified, but shortly afterwards, we flew to Brunei so she could sing at the Sultan’s niece’s 18th birthday party. She croaked her way through her greatest hits. I was disgusted, and she knew it.
‘I went home and wrote a report on what the doctor had told me and sent it to her lawyers. A week later, I was told that she would no longer be travelling internationally so my services were no longer needed.’
Roberts never heard from Houston again, and went back to running his investigations and security business. In 2010, he moved to Miami. Over the years, he watched Houston’s decline with a sense of sad inevitability.
‘I wasn’t surprised when she died – I was just surprised by how long she lived. I like to think it wouldn’t have happened on my watch.’
Of Brown, who has married again and still works with his soul group New Edition, Roberts said:
‘Those around her failed her. With Bobbi Kristina so close to dying, too, I wonder if he feels guilt for the way he’s behaved. He should.’
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