We were going to run the intro where you talk about your long history with the Houston family – but in the end I just couldn’t pass up the story about Michael Jackson giving Whitney a monkey for her 26th birthday.

(laughing) It was an event! Truth of the matter, it was an incredible party.  Odd to celebrate your 26th birthday but when you are on the road… Yep, Mike handed us a monkey.

 

Did you struggle with guilt after Whitney passed?  Thinking there might have been something you could have done to save her?

Not at all.  People struggle with the loss of a loved one, especially if that person had a public battle.  And if you are a person of Whitney’s caliber, your problems are publicized.  But the truth of our relationship is that she gave me a platform to be able to speak truth into her life.  And vice versa.  I gave her all-access.  Everything that needed to be said between us was said.  So there’s no regret other than the sad reality of accepting that she’s gone.

When Mariah debuted, people in the media couldn’t wait to compare her to Whitney. I heard Mariah early on because my good friend, Rhett Lawrence, produced her first big single. I was at his house in California when he was raving about this new singer. Well, as we all know, when Mariah came on the scene, she hit hard. And instantly the media created a “hate” between Whitney and Mariah. They were both going to be at the American Music Awards, and people were expecting some kind of fireworks because supposedly there was this massive tension between them. Again, this was a fabrication. They didn’t hate each other; they didn’t even know each other. I could convince Whitney to do anything—pranks or whatever. We’d be hanging out and I’d tell her to do something, and she’d say, “Why do you think you my father? You think I’ll just do whatever you tell me?” To which I’d reply, “Shut up, I am your father”—all in good fun, of course. We were at the American Music Awards, and I had persuaded Whitney that after her performance and her category were over, we would go to dinner. I’d also informed her that when we exited our seats, she would be the last one out, and that we were going to pass Mariah Carey.

“Here’s what you do,” I said. “You gonna stop and you gonna put out your hand and you gonna speak to her.”

“I’m not gonna speak to her,” Whitney replied.