John Houston, the father of singer Whitney Houston and a theatrical manager since the early days of rhythm and blues, died Sunday after a long battle with diabetes and heart disease. He was 82.
Houston died at a New York hospital, family spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer said Monday. She said Houston’s health had been deteriorating for several years.
Well before his daughter’s rise to fame, Houston managed the career of her mother and his ex-wife, Cissy Houston. She sang with The Sweet Inspirations, a backing vocal group to artists including Aretha Franklin.
Relations between Houston and his daughter, who has acknowledged having drug problems, took an especially awkward turn recently when his company, John Houston Entertainment LLC, sued hers for $100 million.
The suit sought compensation for helping to get a marijuana charge against her dismissed and for getting her a new record contract.
Houston even made a public appeal to his daughter in an interview with the syndicated news magazine “Celebrity Justice” in December: “You get your act together, honey, and you pay me the money that you owe me.”
Houston was born in Trenton on Sept. 13, 1920, and was living in Fort Lee when he died, Seltzer said. His theatrical management agency was based in Newark, the city where his daughter was born.
In addition to his daughter and wife, Peggy, Houston is survived by three sons.