"She said, 'I don't believe we should be physical anymore.' ... We didn't want anything to interfere with where she was going."
Robyn Crawford, Whitney Houston's best friend, tells @craigmelvin about their intimate relationship.
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'We wanted to be together. We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay': Whitney Houston's best friend breaks her silence on the brief secret romance they shared as teenagers in the early 1980s
Robyn Crawford has always been incredibly private about her relationship with Whitney Houston, but this week she gave a rare televised interview about their special relationship while doing press for her upcoming memoir.
Thursday, her interview with The TODAY Show’s Craig Melvin aired ahead of the release of A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, a tender tell-all that promises to give fans a glimpse into a side of the singer that up until now hasn’t been explored beyond rumors and innuendo.
But in an excerpt of the book published exclusively in this week’s PEOPLE, Crawford also talks about Houston’s relationship with comedian Eddie Murphy and what she says happened between them as she prepared to marry to R&B singer Bobby Brown.
“Our friendship was a deep friendship. In the early part of that friendship, it was physical,” Crawford, 58, explained on TODAY, adding that no one knew about the romantic aspect of their relationship, because “it was ours.”
Their relationship began when they met as teenagers at summer camp in 1980, but one day in 1982, around the time that she signed a record deal with Clive Davis, Houston informed her, “I don’t think we should be physical anymore.”
Crawford says she understood that in those days that was necessary in order to allow Houston’s career to take off.
“The music business was a world we were learning,” Crawford said. “We didn’t want anything to interfere with where she was going.”
When asked if she was angry at the time of the breakup she said no.
“I just felt that I wouldn’t be losing much. I still loved her the same and she loved me,” she said, noting, “We were intimate on many levels.”
For those questioning why Crawford is finally speaking up after keeping this secret for almost four decades, she explains it comes from a desire to let the world see a more complete view of the woman she knew and loved for most of her life.
“I watched [Houston] rise to the top of her game and I felt compelled to share who that woman was behind all the fame,” she explained.
“I never envisioned speaking publicly about my life and then I asked myself the question: ‘What would Whitney want? Would she understand you know, the time is now?”‘
This week’s interview comes ahead of Crawford’s hour-long NBC Dateline special, ‘A Song for Whitney’ which is set to air Saturday night. Then on Monday, she will return to TODAY for her first live interview.
As details from Crawford’s book are revealed leading up to its November 12th release, one tidbit has already started raising some eyebrows.
In the passage from PEOPLE, Houston’s best friend claims Murphy tried to stop the singer from marrying Bobby Brown on their wedding day.
According to Crawford, in 1989 even while Brown was courting the pop star, “She was more interested in Eddie Murphy, but he was elusive.”
“One day when Eddie was supposed to come for dinner, I caught a glimpse of Whitney,” writes Crawford. “She was wearing a black dress and low-heeled slingbacks. For a moment, I thought ‘Boy, I wish she was doing that for me.’”
She went on to say her friend “lost herself” in the pursuit of the comedian, but Murphy “never showed up that night,” and his rejection left Houston devastated.
Despite his hot and cold behavior, on the morning of her July 18, 1992 wedding to Bobby Brown, Crawford details how shocked Houston was when she got a call from Murphy.
“[That day] Eddie Murphy called to say she was making a mistake,” she writes, “but she pressed ahead.”
Brown and Houston did go on to have a troubled relationship that many others believed to be a misstep. But through all the heartaches, Crawford says she stood by her friend’s side as a protector and hopes the book will now let the public see why Houston was so easy to love.
“I have a lot of beautiful, wonderful, exciting, adventurous, loving, caring memories of Whitney,” she says. “Whitney was a beautiful friend, the friend that I prayed for.”
In the documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me, former bodyguard David Roberts claims that Crawford and Brown would get into physical fights over their shared love of the singer. In 2000 Crawford ended her working relationship with Houston amid reports that the growing animosity between Crawford and Brown had fueled a rift between the women.
Whitney Houston's closest confidante Robyn Crawford is laying bare the intimate details of the fierce friendship and secret romance they shared seven years after the singer's sudden death at 48.
Crawford, 58, recounted the more than three decades she spent by Houston's side in her forthcoming memoir A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston.
The book marks the first time Crawford has spoken publicly about her romantic relationship with Houston when they were teenagers in the early 1980s.
'I'd come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship,' Crawford wrote in an excerpt released in this week's issue of People. 'And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent.'
Whitney Houston's best friend Robyn Crawford opened up about the secret romance she shared with the singer when they were teenagers in the early 1980s in her new memoir
Crawford, 58, was one of Houston's closest confidantes and most loyal protectors for more than three decades, from when they met at a New Jersey summer camp in 1980 until the singer's sudden death aged 48 in 2012. The pair are seen together in an undated photo
Crawford was 19 years old when she met Houston, then almost 17, while they were working as counselors at a summer camp in East Orange, New Jersey, in 1980.
At the time Crawford promised her new best friend: 'I'm going to look out for you.'
She kept that promise as Houston shot to global fame over the following two decades.
Crawford opened up about her relationship with Houston in her forthcoming memoir A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston
However, their relationship shifted from romantic to platonic after Houston got her big break when she signed with music legend Clive Davis.
Crawford said Houston ended the physical part of their relationship one day in 1982, giving her a blue Bible to soften the blow.
'She said we shouldn't be physical anymore because it would make our journey even more difficult,' Crawford writes.
'She said if people find out about us, they would use this against us, and back in the '80s that's how it felt.'
Crawford said Houston's family also pressured her to end the relationship.
'Whitney told me her mother' - gospel singer Cissy Houston - 'said it wasn't natural for two women to be that close,' she wrote. 'But we were that close.'
Crawford said that after Houston announced she wanted to end their romance, she respected her wishes.
'I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence,' she wrote.
Crawford and Houston's romantic relationship became a platonic one around the time that the singer signed with music legend Clive Davis in 1983. In the years after that, the pair (above in 1988) maintained a friendship so close it fueled frenzied speculation about Houston's sexuality
Crawford said that after Houston announced she wanted to end their romance, she respected her wishes. 'I kept it safe. I found comfort in my silence,' she wrote
Houston (left) and Crawford (right) are seen with the singer's husband Bobby Brown and another woman at an undated event in New York City
The pair maintained a friendship so close it fueled years of speculation about Houston's sexuality.
'We never talked about labels, like lesbian or gay,' Crawford explained.
'We just lived our lives and I hoped it could go on that way forever. We wanted to be together, and that meant just us.'
She said the romantic connection was just one piece of her lasting bond with Houston.
'Whitney knows I loved her and I know she loved me,' Crawford wrote.
'We really meant everything to each other. We vowed to stand by each other.'
In the years after Crawford and Houston ended their tryst, the singer was romantically linked with actor Eddie Murphy and football star Randall Cunningham.
She went on to marry singer Bobby Brown in 1992, with Crawford by her side as her maid of honor, and they welcomed daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown the following year.
The couple's tumultuous marriage frequently made headlines and they divorced in 2007.
Crawford was Houston's maid of honor at her wedding to singer Bobby Brown in 1992
Houston died aged 48 in 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. A coroner's report indicated the singer, who struggled with substance abuse, had accidentally drowned in the bathtub due to a combination of heart disease and cocaine use.
Her daughter, Bobbi, died three years later after a drug-related incident in the bathroom of her home in Georgia.
Crawford now works as a fitness instructor and lives a quiet life with her partner, talent agency executive Lisa Hintlemann, and their two adopted children.
She said she hopes her memoir will show the world the Houston she knew and loved.
'I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship,' she said.
Crawford now works as a fitness instructor and lives a quiet life with her partner, talent agency executive Lisa Hintlemann (above together in 2003), and their two adopted children
Houston and Crawford's rumored romance was depicted in the 2015 Lifetime original movie Whitney.
Asked about the rumors at the time, director Angela Bassett said: 'I can't tell you.
'There always has been [rumors] and they still persist and I don't know. But, there was always the speculation, so my thing was, let it remain.'
She added: 'But it'd be however the audience sees it. If they read into it, that's what they read into [regarding] their life – two women who are close and love each other and support one another.'
Brown had mentioned his ex-wife's affair with Crawford in his 2016 memoir: Every Little Step: My Story.
'I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney's life, Whitney would still be alive today,' he told Us Weekly at the time, speculating that Crawford could have helped Houston through her drug dependence.
'She didn't have close friends with her anymore.'
Houston's mother Cissy also spoke about the allegations during a 2013 interview with Oprah, saying she 'absolutely' would have had a problem with her daughter being gay.