Who was Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston?

11 January 2022, 16:42

Who is Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston?
Who is Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston? Picture: Getty / Alamy
Hannah Lovejoy

By Hannah Lovejoy

Whitney Houston is one of the world’s most iconic singers, and she grew up around the entertainment industry thanks to her parents’ careers.

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Whitney Houston’s legacy lives on one decade on from her death and her story is about to be told in a new way with the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

Much of Whitney’s early life influenced her interest in music thanks to the singing career of her mother Cissy Houston. Whitney also gained insight into the media world as her father, John Russell Houston, was an entertainment talent manager.

But who is Whitney’s father John Russell Houston and what impact did he have on the superstar’s life?

John Russell Houston’s marriage to Cissy Houston and raising Whitney

John married Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston, in 1959 and it was Cissy’s second marriage. The couple were together for over three decades and had two children together - Whitney and her brother Michael Houston. The Houston family unit also included Gary, who was Cissy’s first child from her previous marriage.

After around 31 years of marriage, John and Cissy ended their relationship and got divorced in 1990.

Career as an entertainment manager

John had his own entertainment company and helped both Cissy and Whitney with their music careers at various points in time.

Whitney’s dad is said to have helped negotiate deals and helped to manage different aspects of Whitney’s career.

Who is Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston?
Who is Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston? Picture: Getty

John’s $100 million lawsuit against Whitney

The year before John’s death in 2003, his company filed a lawsuit against Whitney after claiming that she didn’t pay them for their help in a record deal negotiation.

According to MTV News, Whitney hired her father’s company to represent her in a number of professional and personal matters. This included the negotiation of her contract renewal with Arista Records in 2001. The deal was worth $100 million for Whitney.

The lawsuit claims that Whitney didn’t pay her father’s company accordingly for the services that they said they provided - which led to John’s company suing Whitney for $100 million.

Speaking on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Whitney explained that her father had been “influenced” by people around him and that he was vulnerable because of his deteriorating health.

“My dad was being influenced by people that were lying. My father was sickly at the time, he was in the hospital,” Whitney said.

“I was paying the bills, I took care of my father.”

John Russell Houston’s death

John passed away in February 2003 after ongoing health issues at the age of 82.

Whitney was asked if she forgave her father and she said “absolutely” and explained further.

Whitney said: “I love my dad, and I knew he was sickly. People were trying to get money from him. Distract me from him.

Who is Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston?
Who is Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston? Picture: Getty

“There were years we didn’t speak at all, but when he got sickly, I went to the hospital and I said, ‘let’s end this right now.'”

It’s said that Whitney didn’t go to her father’s funeral due to the press coverage. Instead, she had her own memorial service so that she could process her grief away from the public eye.

“I had a memorial the day before the funeral. That was my own. It was so much press, and the media was following me around, I couldn’t grieve in privacy,” Whitney said.

She continued: “So I had my own service and then I had one for [his friends] that they could go to.”