At the time, her publicist attributed the Oscar cancellation to a sore throat, but Houston told Primetime she was "fired" because she was "not getting along with" the director, Burt Bacharach, during the rehearsals. "I had an attitude about it," she said.
She said the no-shows have been blown out of proportion compared with her record during her 17-year career. "If you look at the stats of how many concerts I did, and how many concerts I missed, there's no comparison," she said. "I've done more shows in my lifetime than I've missed in my lifetime."
She said that, looking back at the concerts she has missed, she feels bad for the fans. "That's the only people in the world, the public, the fans … that I apologize to. Because if I don't have my best to give, then I can't give it to them."
Pressure From a Young Age
Houston's career took off when she was just 17, when Davis heard her singing in a nightclub. Two years later, in 1985, her first album, Whitney Houston — with songs like "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All" — was the best-selling female debut in history. All told, she has had five No. 1 hits and has won six Grammy awards.
She says the pressures of working and sustaining her reputation as one of the world's greatest voices were hard from the beginning.
"I had no time to grow up. I had no time to party," she said. "I didn't even date in my 20s. I wasn't that normal 20-year-old young woman going through her phases. I was a millionaire by the time I was 22."
When men seemed interested in her, she worried that they were after her money, she said. At times, things got so bad that she would stay in her room for days, she said.
After a while, she decided to rebel. "I think I kind of reverted back as I got older and said, 'Well, I'm just going to party,' you know," Houston said. "It was kind of a rebel in me."
Houston's new album, Just Whitney …, her first original album in four years, is the first she has made without Davis' guidance. She said the album, being released next week, represents "the Whitney that has endured 17, 18 years of the music industry … an older, maturer, wiser woman."
A new stress in Houston's life is a $100 million lawsuit filed against her by an entertainment company her father, John Houston, runs with a partner, Kevin Skinner. The lawsuit claims the singer failed to pay the company for help in getting the Hawaii marijuana charges dropped and negotiating her contract with Arista.
Houston said the company was never hired but declined to go into detail, saying only that she is hurt by the lawsuit.
"My father is 81, very sick. His health is failing," she said. "Somebody who my father's associated with has put him up to some — has put fear in his heart as if he's not my father."
Houston's marriage to Brown has lasted, too. When they married in 1992, many people thought they were mismatched: she a regal queen of soulful pop, and he a raunchy R&B singer whose star was already waning.
"They didn't give us six minutes to last," she recalled, adding, "We've gone 10 years."