Saturday, June 15, 2024

Clive Davis on Whitney Houston: “She was in complete denial” about her drug problems


Most readers will go straight to the Whitney Houston section of record mogul Clive Davis’s autobiography, “The Soundtrack of My Life,” published today by Simon & Schuster. It’s heartbreaking when you realize how much Davis did to try and help Houston. Davis includes letters he sent Whitney from the beginning of her career to the morning after her shockingly thin appearance – a result of her drug addiction– in September 2001 at Michael Jackson’s 30th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden.

He wrote: “Dearest Whitney: When I saw you last night at the Michael Jackson concert, I gasped. When I got home I cried. My dear, dear Whitney. The time has come.” He implored her to get help quickly. She didn’t listen.

Read the full letter here:

Clive brought Whitney and her entourage to his home in Westchester County, New York, as a kind of intervention. It wasn’t to make money. It was to save her life. But she wouldn’t listen when he spoke to her with urgency about her problems. “She was in complete denial,” Davis writer. “I knew that if an addict does not want to get help, there ultimately is very little that anyone else can do.”

There were at least two other interventions and rehab stints that Davis supported but didn’t engineer. But there is just so much you can do: when Whitney got into a fight with a flight attendant on her way to Detroit to shoot “Sparkle,” it made headlines. This reporter was the one who mentioned it to Clive, and suggested trouble was brewing. The disappointment on his face was palpable. It hurt him to hear she might be suffering again.

Davis got the call that Whitney died as he was dressing for his annual pre-Grammy dinner. She had just been in his hotel suite that week. He writes: “There are moments when time stands still, and you feel as if you can’t even begin to comprehend the words that are being spoken to you. That’s how I felt right then.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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