Bobby Brown gave a very emotional onstage performance Saturday night after hearing of the death of Whitney Houston at the Beverly Hilton and the concert turned into a tribute.
Whitney Houston was married to Bobby Brown for 15 years. The couple divorced in 2007 and had one child together named Bobbi Kristina. He immediately began calling friends and family upon hearing the news about his ex-wife.
“He wanted to tell everyone about it before it hit the news,” one of his relatives tells PEOPLE. “He didn’t want any of us to hear about it on television.”
As the singer spoke to family members, the shock of Houston’s sudden death turned to grief. “He could hardly get the words out when he called me,” says the relative. “He was sobbing, and by the end of the call, I was sobbing too. He’s beside himself right now.”
Brown has had no official comment on the death of Houston. A source tells PEOPLE that Brown learned the news about his ex-wife while in Memphis, where he is currently located for a New Edition concert. He is “shattered and beyond devastated,” says the source.
Houston’s passing was confirmed by her publicist, and Beverly Hills Police Lieut. Mark Rosen told PEOPLE on Saturday that the 48-year-old singer “was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. this afternoon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel,” following a 3:43 p.m. call from hotel security.
Despite their breakup, the couple remained friendly, the relative tells PEOPLE.
“They had Bobbi Kristina in common, and were determined to be co-parents to her. They didn’t hate each other. In fact, there was a lot of respect. So this has hit Bobby really hard. He is devastated. He loved her very much. This is a very sad time for him.”