For years, rumor had it that Bobby Brown had introduced Whitney Houston to drugs — but Michael Houston, one of the singer's two older brothers, has revealed to Oprah Winfrey that the real story was quite different.
It's a story that has Michael Houston "living, but not alive" since his younger sister's death almost a year ago.
"I feel responsible for what I let go so far," he told Oprah in a Monday interview on OWN that primarily featured mother Cissy Houston, who has a new tell-all memoir out. In that book, Cissy says she didn't understand her children doing drugs then, and she doesn't understand it now.
Said Michael Houston, "We were always, you know, being together most of the time, and her following behind me -- I taught her to drive. We played together -- everything that you do together as you're growing up -- and then when you get into drugs, you do that together too, and it just got out of hand."
Then Oprah presented what she called "the big question": Did he introduce her to drugs?
"I would say, yeah, we did everything together, so once I was into that, then she followed suit," he said.
"So was the first time she tried freebasing cocaine, or cocaine, crack, whatever ... are you the one who introduced it to her?" Winfrey pressed.
"I think probably the first time we ever, she ever did it was probably, you know -- but you gotta understand, at the time, the '80s, it was acceptable.... In the entertainment industry it was just like, available. It wasn't like a bad word like it is now. You know what I'm saying? We didn't know. We just didn't know."
He said Whitney was in her late 20s, already famous, had money and was traveling around when they started doing drugs, long before her 1992 marriage to Brown.
"So the first time she did it, it was you, so that's the demon you live with," Winfrey said.
"Every day," Houston said. "Every day. That's something I've got to live with for the rest of my life."
Whitney Houston accidentally drowned Feb. 11, 2012, in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel the day before the Grammy Awards. The cause of death was given as drowning and effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use. Traces of cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril and Benadryl were found in her system.