John Houston, whose long career as a music manager for his talented wife Cissy and daughter Whitney ended with him embroiled in a $100 million lawsuit against his daughter, died Sunday morning at a Manhattan hospital, a family spokesperson announced. The 82-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest after a long struggle with diabetes and heart disease.
Houston managed Cissy's vocal group, the Sweet Inspirations, famous for their backing harmonies on records by Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and others. His work for daughter Whitney was the source of the lawsuit that was filed last year and was still pending at the time of his death. The suit claimed she owed his company the money for helping negotiate her $100 million record deal with Arista and other services. In her notorious ABC interview in December, the 39-year-old singer said she still loved her father and believed the suit would be resolved. Still, she said, ''They'll never get $100 million out of me. I know that!''
''You get your act together, honey, and you pay me the money that you owe me. If you do that, you haven't got a lawsuit,'' he responded from his hospital bed on an episode of TV's ''Celebrity Justice,'' noting that the dispute was with his daughter's company, not with her personally. He added, ''At my age, I haven't got that long. Now if you think I got that long, you think about it. You step into my shoes. I would like to spend the last years of my life on a boat someplace.''
Although he never got to spend time on that boat, his business associate, Kevin Skinner, told the New York Daily News he planned to continue the lawsuit. ''I think he died with a broken heart because he expected more of his children,'' Skinner said. Of course, if Houston's estate wins the suit, Whitney could get the proceeds back as an inheritance, though she'd probably have to share them with her two brothers.