Family and friends open up about ups and downs of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown's life together

Both in life and in the new documentary Whitney, Bobby Brown plays a key role in the story of superstar Whitney Houston.

The R&B star, who was married to Houston from 1992 to 2007, was one of more than 60 people interviewed by the film’s director Kevin Macdonald. Though he opened up about their romance, Brown refused to discuss on camera the darker periods in his and Whitney’s relationship, including their long history of drug abuse during their marriage.

In this week’s issue, Houston’s family and friends open up about the ups and downs of the rocky marriage. For his part, Brown tells PEOPLE: “I just hope people remember Whitney for the music she shared with the world, which was her most important legacy.”

Credit: RTNBaker/MediaPunch/IPX

For more on Whitney Houston’s untold story, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

“Part of me felt like she got married to please people. Just to get off of the market so people would stop questioning her,” says Houston’s hairstylist and close friend Ellin LaVar, who says that at the time Houston met Brown, the star was tired of dodging rumors about her romance with Robyn Crawford.

Brown’s bad-boy persona intrigued Houston. “We from the hood. And Bobby was a black boy from the hood. He was the type my mother always kept away from her,” Whitney’s brother Michael says in the film.


But many say Brown, having entered Houston’s world in the midst of The Bodyguard‘s success and at the height of her career, felt overshadowed and there were problems from the start.

“Bobby Brown was like a child when he got there, ill-equipped to get married to Whitney Houston and walk into that environment,” says Houston’s longtime agent and Whitney executive producer Nicole David. “All these people had collaborated together with her to create who she had become.”

By all accounts, Houston began using drugs long before she ever met Brown. “Let’s just say Bobby was f—ing lightweight when it came to motherf—ing drugs,” her brother Michael reveals in the documentary. During the relationship, their habits only increased.

RELATED VIDEO: Bobby Brown Reveals the First Time He Ever Saw Whitney Houston Doing Drugs

“The problem with Whitney and Bobby was they exacerbated each other’s addiction,” says LaVar. “She did more cocaine, he drank more. But when they got together they both started doing more cocaine and drinking. It just manifested itself in a really bad way.”

While Houston struggled with her own demons in the spotlight, some say Brown was at times envious of his wife’s success. “Bobby was jealous and he couldn’t recognize that emotion,” Donna Houston, Whitney’s former sister-in-law says in the film. “For him, in a black man’s mind, it was tearing him up.”

Sadly the couple’s daughter Bobbi Kristina, who died in 2015 at age 22, had a front row seat to the couple’s domestic disputes and erratic behavior, which became tabloid fodder. After years of drama the pair finally split in 2007.

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown
| Credit: Lester Cohen/WireImage

Family members say Houston was devastated she couldn’t make the marriage work. At the core of their issues, says LaVar, was their individual battles to get sober. “They both didn’t go into rehab at the same time,” she says. “That whole concept of sobriety was an issue for both of them.”

Whitney Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012. The star’s friends and family deny that Brown was the root of her troubles, but “he was of no assistance,” says David.

Now re-married and sober, Brown will be sharing his own life story in the BET documentary The Bobby Brown Story. Despite all of the couple’s struggles, family and friends say there was in fact love between them.

“Bobby was a really funny and fun guy to hang around with,” recalls Donna Houston in the film. “He made her laugh. She truly loved him.”