John Russell Houston: What happened to Whitney Houston’s father?

John Russell Houston

John Russell Houston was the father of American singer and actress Whitney Houston. John Russell Houston’s daughter nicknamed “The Voice”, is one of the bestselling music artists of all time, with over 200 million records sold worldwide. She has received numerous accolades, including two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, and 28 Guinness World Records.

John Russell Houston: Bio Summary

Full NameJohn Russell Houston
famous asFather of Whitney Houston
Age 83 years old at the time of death
Date of BirthSeptember 13, 1920
Place of Birth United States of America
Date of birth February 2, 2003
Zodiac signVirgo
EthnicityAfrican America
Children Whitney Houston, Michael Houston
spouse  Cissy Houston (m. 1959–1990)
Grandchildren Bobbi Kristina Brown, Gary Houston

John Russell Houston served in the second world war.

John Russell Houston was born on September 13, 1920, in Trenton, New Jersey, United States of America. He gained most of his fame from being the father of the iconic singer Whitney Houston. He also made a name for himself after he served in the second world war. The iconic singer’s father started as a taxi and truck driver, and eventually in the1970s, he had the opportunity to work for Kenneth Gibson, the first black mayor elected in Newark.

John Russell Houston’s wife Cissy Houston

John was married to Cissy Houston between 1959 to 1990, even though John was older than Cissy by 13 years. The couple had another child aside from Whitney- a son named Michael Houston. The family unit also included Gary, who was Cissy’s first child from her previous marriage.

John Houston’s wife Cissy Houston was also a singer. She was a soul and gospel singer. She was a backup singer for top artists including Roy Hamilton, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin. However, she later embarked on a solo career and she ended up winning two Grammy Awards for her work.

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Some of her singles include “Midnight Train to Gerogia,” “Break It to Me Gently,” “Think It Over,” “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” “You’re the Fire,” “I’ll Be There,” “Amazing Grace,” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “Be My Baby” as well as other songs. But who is Whitney Houston’s father John Russell Houston and what impact did he have on the superstar’s life?

Whitney Houston and her father’s relationship

Whitney Houston’s father, John Russell Houston was a supportive father on many levels. The visionary father spotted his daughter’s talent at a young age when she sang the song “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” while in church. And he gave her the necessary support to build her to become a global sensation. John had his own entertainment company and helped both his wife Cissy and his daughter Whitney with their music careers at various points in time.

He was also said to have helped negotiate deals and helped to manage different aspects of the singer’s career and personal life. When Whitney Houston got arrested in Hawaii for illegal possession of Marijuana in 2000, her father John Russell Houston came to her aid and bailed her out.

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Whitney Houston and her father, John Russell Houston’s relationship was, however, not a walk in the park, as the father once sued the daughter for failing to abide by his company’s terms. Even though they had their misunderstandings that tore them apart for some time, the two eventually reunited before his demise.

Why did Whitney Houston’s father sue her?

John supported his daughter’s career from a very young age, and the two had a fantastic relationship. But their relationship began to drift away after his daughter married singer Bobby Brown in 1992 per Amomama. Despite the two having a family and work relationship, the two occasionally had disagreements. The singer admitted to interviewers that she and her father had fights, but it was because of business and nothing else. In 2002, John’s company, John Houston Entertainment, sued Whitney for $ 100 million due to breach of contract.

Even though the lawsuit didn’t mention John Russell Houston’s name, his daughter got accused of not paying for services rendered by the company on her behalf. This event took place a year before his passing. Speaking on the issue in 2009 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Whitney explained that her father had been “influenced” by people around him and that he was vulnerable because of his deteriorating health.

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According to MTV , John’s company represented her daughter Whitney Houston in a number of professional and personal matters. This included the negotiation of her contract renewal with Arista Records in 2001. The deal was worth $100 million for Whitney. However, the singer set the record straight and admitted that before her father passed on, they had made amends and were on good terms.

What happened to Whitney Houston’s father?

After the divorce proceedings from Cissy was finalized, John got married to Barbara Houston. Cissy’s biography expressed her disappointment with John and said he didn’t even inform or invite their kids. Whitney Houston’s father, John passed away in February 2003 after ongoing health issues at the age of 82. While Houston did indeed skip her father’s funeral, director Kasi Lemmons said, it wasn’t necessarily because she was too drugged to attend per USA Today.

John Russell Houston was survived by his wife, Barbara, and his five children. Five years after his passing, his wife Barbara filed a lawsuit against Whitney over John’s $1 million life insurance policy. According to the insurance policy, Whitney was the sole beneficiary of the money.

Kennedy Gedzah

Kennedy Gedzah is a graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology-KNUST (2018). He is the Owner and has been the lead content creator at since 2020. His Passion for providing people with credible and well-researched information on the internet led him to build With more than 5 years of experience in blogging and writing, he has amassed sufficient knowledge on various topics, including biographies, fashion and lifestyles, Entertainment, and more. You can contact him via email:

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