Depending on who you talk to, R&B singer Houston’s eye injury is the result of either mental illness, spiritual crisis or just an accident.
“Houston is going through spiritual warfare right now,” Houston’s bodyguard Marco Powell said. “It’s like good versus evil. He grew up in a Christian family, and since he’s signed his record deal he’s been subjected to, in his own words, ‘sins and devils in the business’ like drugs, alcohol and all this stuff that he’s not used to. He didn’t want to be around that. He just wasn’t happy with management — he just wasn’t happy. He didn’t know which way to turn.”
Powell was in London with the 21-year-old singer the night Houston gouged his eye out and insists it was not a suicide attempt (see “R&B Singer Houston Gouges Eye Out After Apparent Suicide Attempt” ).
“The night of the incident, we had dinner at the hotel,” Powell recalled. “After dinner, he went to his room to read the Bible. He is an avid reader of the Bible. After I finished eating, I went upstairs to check on him and I noticed blood on the floor. Houston usually has really bad nose bleeds. So I asked him, ‘Are you OK? Is your nose bleeding?’ He said, ‘Yeah, my nose is bleeding but I’m cool. I will see you in the morning. I can’t wait to get back to L.A. with my family.’ He was lying on the bed with a towel over his face, so something told me it was more than [just a nose bleed]. So I walked into the room to talk to him, I pulled the towel off of his face, and that’s when I saw that he had gouged his eye out.
“He showed no pain and he had no remorse,” Powell added. “He said he had to do it. He said that that had freed him from everything. He was happy after that. He said he was changed and was ready to go. That symbolic statement basically freed him from all the pain he was in. He feels like he is closer to God now.”
Billie Summers, Houston’s sister, also says the suicide rumors are untrue.
“Houston is a Christian and he does know that if he attempted anything like that he’d be doomed,” Summers said. “His managers, Reno Rankin and Andrew Rowe of On Point Productions, are no longer his managers, so they are trying to slander his name. While Houston was on the road, their contract [with him] ended and there were rumors that they were going to try and slander my brother’s name. I believe they’re the ones calling up the radio stations, MTV and BET and giving false info.”
However, On Point’s Rankin and Rowe offer a different portrait of the singer.
“Houston has a sickness,” Rowe said. “There’s nothing to hide. He needs to be treated so he doesn’t harm himself worse than he did, or someone else.”
According to Rankin, he, Rowe and a Capitol Records representative took Houston to a psychiatrist themselves while the family remained in denial. They say the singer was even treated at UCLA Medical Center prior to his trip overseas.
“In September Houston was hospitalized,” Rowe said. “We had to cancel everything from October to the end of the year. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic. He was supposed to be in treatment and on medication, but we had clearance by the family and doctors to work half the time.
“He was out of control, just doing things that were off the wall — things that normal people don’t do,” Rowe added. “So when he went to London, we were told he blew it on the Choice FM Awards and that he was starting to regress. He was carry a Bible around and just doing things that just weren’t normal.”
The On Point duo said Houston’s actions made them worried about sending him overseas. “Houston wanted to work like any other artist because there was money on the table,” Rowe recalled, “but there was concern, and that’s why I requested a doctor’s note.”
“Capitol was requesting him on the road to do promo over in London,” Rankin said. “So Houston’s family sent us a doctor’s note, stating that Houston was able to work, and we took the note and faxed it over to Capitol.”
While Rankin and Rowe are not sure if a lack of medication is what caused the incident, they say things quickly took a turn for the worse.
“They finally got to Dubai [in the United Arab Emirates], barely, and that’s where he got real bad,” Rowe said. “[Houston] wanted to hurt himself bad and he was on the brink. When he got back to England was when I finally got the call that he stabbed himself in the eye. He was so off guard that he was trying to kill himself.”
Summers acknowledged that her brother was injured while overseas but called it “an accident.” “He is all right and in good spirits,” she said. “He’s not depressed, on any medications or under any psychiatric care. He was just in surgery and he will be coming home soon, in a day or two. Everything is well.”
She said he’s in Los Angeles now and that she doesn’t know the details of the accident.
“We haven’t mentioned anything to Houston, but we’re going to talk to him about what exactly happened,” Summers said. “Houston would never inflict any harm on himself. He was under a lot of spiritual stress, and a lot of that pressure, I believe, came from the music industry.
“I just want everyone to pray for him. He is going through trying times. … This is the last thing he needs,” she added.
Meanwhile, Rankin and Rowe said they haven’t had any direct contact with their former client since he returned to the States.
“We decided that we didn’t want to continue,” Rowe said. “We feel like our contract could have been extended, but that’s not important. The kid needs help more than anything else. His health is our biggest concern.”
The two said they’re also concerned with how Houston’s finances are being managed.
“We have a serious problem with the way the family is handling this kid’s situation,” Rowe said. “There’s no reason for this kid to have no money. They passed on a publishing deal that could have helped him out right now. They got involved and we tried everything [we could], but at the end of the day, Houston was loyal to his mom. I don’t have a problem with that, but they are not capable of handling a kid like that. The kid was a star. He had a great opportunity laid out, so he should have had proper housing and a nice car.”
“The kid still lives where he lives when we met him — in a two-bedroom apartment with four other people,” Rankin said. “They spent all the kid’s money.”