Whitney Houston funeral: Bobby Brown leaves shortly after service began
Whitney Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown left the singer's funeral shortly after service began.
Brown and several members of his entourage left the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J.,12:20 a.m. ET, according to OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company ABC.
According to the New Jersey Ledger, Brown arrived a few minutes before the funeral was set to begin with an entourage of nine people, who he wanted to sit with him in the family's section of the pews.
A source told the local paper that the entourage was "asked to leave" and while Brown was not asked to leave, "he left with the other people."
Brown appeared to be "visibly upset" as he left the church, according to the Ledger.
Brown was also seen crying when he took the stage with his former group New Edition in Southaven, shortly after receiving the news of Houston's death on Saturday, February 11. "First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all," Brown told the sold-out crowd. "Second, I would like to say, I love you Whitney. The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage."
Houston was pronounced dead at age 48 at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 11, a day before the 2012 Grammy Awards.
Brown, 43, reportedly broke down backstage before the show and was too distraught to perform in his band's opening song.
Houston married Brown in 1992 and filed a domestic abuse charge against him the following year. The pair got divorced in 2007. Houston had sole custody of the couple's only daughter, 18-year-old Bobbi Kristina Brown.
Though they had a famously tumultuous relationship, Houston told Oprah Winfrey in 2009 that she had done drugs with Brown but told the talk show host, "I loved him so much...He was my drug. I didn't do anything without him."
Bobby Brown was invited to attend the funeral, despite recent reports that said he was told to stay away.
Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder were among those who performed at the service. Speakers included Kevin Costner, Tyler Perry, music mogul Clive Davis, who helped launch her career, gospel stars Kim Burrell and Donnie McClurkin, musical director Rickey Minor and Cece Winans, a gospel singer who is also the godmother of Houston's daughter. Gospel singer and pastor Marvin Winans gave the eulogy.
The guest list also includes Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce and husband Jay-Z, Elton John, David Bowie, Bill Cosby and Chaka Khan, who was the original singer of "I'm Every Woman," another song Houston sang in "The Bodyguard," a source close to the matter told the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
After the memorial service, the iconic pop singer will be laid to rest 15 miles away, at the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, according to her death certificate, which was obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com. Her father was buried there after he died in 2003. The 105-acre cemetery is also an arboretum. It contains a pond with a fountain, flowers and 61 species of trees.
UPDATE: Bobby Brown issued a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com following Houston's funeral: "My children and I were invited to the funeral of my ex-wife Whitney Houston. We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions. I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move. Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi-Kristina. In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene. My children are completely distraught over the events. This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur. I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how."