Whitney Houston's Real-Life Manager Opened Up About Her Drug Addiction And How He Didn't See It At First

Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It’s hard to believe that it has been over a decade since the world lost the legendary singer and actress Whitney Houston. The late eight-time Grammy-winning artist’s life has recently gotten the biopic treatment in Kasi Lemmons’ I Wanna Dance With Somebody, bringing attention to the singer’s life and struggles. Houston’s producer, Clive Davis (who discovered Houston at 19), has opened up in a recent interview about not seeing the star's battle with addiction at first.

Prolific music producer (and at one time, Whitney Houston's manager) Clive Davis recently sat down with CNN to discuss Houston’s career and the new movie release about the singer which he produced. Davis said he saw the “highs” and “lows” of Houston’s career, but admitted he became aware of the performer’s battles later than some because her loyalty and devotion blinded him. He explained: 

[I realized it] later than some, because she was loyal, devoted, she always was on when she was with me. So, admittedly, I didn’t see the signs early on.

The music mogul said Houston was always prepared, so he didn’t realize the depths of her addiction. However, the singer’s performance at Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary special at Madison Square Garden in 2001 made it glaringly apparent to everyone that something wasn’t right with The Bodyguard star. Davis continued: 

For me she was always prepared. But, clearly, unmistakably, the lowest would be the Micheal Jackson concert at Madison Square Garden. She walks out on stage, and I can’t believe my eyes. She’s a skeleton.

The two-decades-old performance is admittedly still hard to watch–maybe more so, given what we know about what happened to Houston. The singer took the Madison Square stage looking deathly thin. Davis said her emaciated appearance terrified him so badly he took it upon himself to write her a letter. He said: 

I never saw her looking like that. I was scared stiff. I wrote her a letter.

Houston’s longtime manager said he wrote the singer a heartfelt letter telling her she had a problem, and that if she didn’t get it under control, it would consume her. He pressed on her the life-and-death seriousness of her situation, but sadly, the singer didn’t heed his words. David said: 

I said, ‘You have a severe problem, and you have to deal with it. And it’s a matter of life and death.’ She didn’t listen or never replied to the letter.

In the documentary about his life and music career, Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (which you can watch with a Netflix subscription), Davis’ relationship with Houston takes up 25 minutes of the two-hour run time, and he goes into much more detail about the heartbreaking letter that Whitney Houston never responded to. 

Clive Davis clearly cared a lot about the late singer, and he continues to support her legacy. According to the young actress Naomi Ackie, her interactions with those close to Houston, like Davis, were vital to her while preparing for the role of Houston in I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The actress said speaking with instrumental players in Houston’s life helped her understand the human behind the mythic star.

Fans can see for themselves if Davis and Ackie do Whitney Houston’s legacy justice by checking out I Wanna Dance With Somebody at their local cineplex. Our readers might also be interested in watching notable biopics about iconic Black musicians or perhaps they would like to watch some of Houston’s movies.

Ryan LaBee

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing. An expert in all things horror, Ryan enjoys covering a wide variety of topics. He's also a lifelong comic book fan and an avid watcher of Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.