Music producer L.A. Reid opened up in his new book, recalling that his worst career choice was pressuring Whitney Houston to do a television interview that became one of the most talked about celebrity interviews in history.
New York Daily News reports that in Reid’s upcoming memoir, Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who’s Next, the successful producer admits that Houston’s interview with Diane Sawyer, which he set up for the singer, was a “terrible strategic mistake.”
The infamous interview occurred in 2002, after rumors ran rampant regarding Houston’s drug use. Houston sat down with Sawyer and answered an array of uncomfortable questions about her career, weight loss, and drug use. When Sawyer questioned Houston about crack use, the “How Will I Know” singer became defensive, denying any use of the drug.
“First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much for me to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight, OK? I don’t do crack. I don’t do that. Crack is wack”
Sawyer interviewed the superstar singer in her Atlanta home, shortly before the release of her album Just Whitney, but instead of being a promotion for her upcoming album, it became one of the most shocking interviews ever, revealing details of the singer’s intimate, personal life; details never heard before. Although Houston never admitted to crack use, she did say that she sometimes used prescription pills.
When Sawyer asked which drugs are “the biggest devil among them,” Houston tilted her head to the side and said, “That would be me.”
After the interview, Houston was relentlessly questioned by reporters and plagued by rumors of crack use for years. Ten years after the interview, Houston was found unconscious in a Beverly Hills hotel, and died shortly after, which intensified the crack use speculation.
Despite his misgivings of guiding Houston’s interview, Reid shared his accomplishments as well. He revealed how a then 17-year-old Rihanna was introduced to him by Jay-Z. After Rihanna sang “Pon de Replay” in an audition, Reid was immediately impressed.
“Don’t let her leave the building,” he said.
Reid wrote that his talent for finding superstars happens on a whim; in an instant after seeing someone, he instinctively knows if they’ll be a star or not.
“I always know in a few seconds. There are very few people who can pass an audition. I usually know when they walk in the room before they open their mouth—even if they open their mouth only to speak and not sing. I’ve already made up my mind.”
For instance, Reid wrote that in 1994, he only needed to hear one song from Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton, two teens that would eventually go on to superstardom, known as the group Outkast. The group’s first single, “Player’s Ball,” became a hit after Reid relentlessly had to drive their music to the masses. Outkast’s first album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, eventually went platinum.
Over a decade later, Reid met a young 14-year-old Justin Bieber, a then YouTube star discovered by R&B singer Usher. Reid was impressed with Bieber’s look and style, including his “hit haircut,” but when he heard him sing, he said he knew he had a star on his hands. Usher agreed, and remembered when he first heard Bieber’s vocals, he had to let Reid know.
“Man you are not going to believe the talent that I have come across. This kid is really like once in a lifetime glimpse at a prodigy or something incredible.”
For more stories about Whitney Houston and other celebrities who rose to fame, check out Reid’s memoir, available for preorder, which releases on February 2.
[Photo by Getty Images/Stringer]