Proof Mariah Carey's First Marriage Was Doomed

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Mariah Carey is celebrating two milestones in 2020 — the 30th anniversary of her debut album, Mariah Carey, and the upcoming release of her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Every Friday on her Instagram account, the singer details a track off that 1990 platinum-selling album. On July 8, 2020, Carey posted a letter to her fans about the process behind writing the memoir, scheduled to be released Sept. 28.

"It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments — the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today," she wrote in the letter.

There's no doubt that this book will have a chapter or two about her first marriage to record executive Tommy Mottola. Their marriage began with an upscale, fairy-tale wedding and ended in a bitter divorce. Carey and Mottola have shared their sides of their relationship in past interviews, and Mottola wrote about it in his own 2013 memoir Hitmaker: The Man and His Music.

Yet some say that Carey's marriage to Mottola was doomed from the start. Find out some of the warning signs they faced, and where the two exes stand now.

Tommy Mottola was already married when he met Mariah Carey

When Mariah Carey was just 18 years old, she was a background singer in the late 1980s for pop/R&B performer Brenda K. Starr. Carey met with then-Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at an industry party in 1988. Starr gave Mottola Carey's demo, and he was blown away by her talent as he listened to the tape in his car while driving home from the party. "An unbelievable energy was running through me," he wrote in his memoir Hitmaker, recalling how he thought to himself, "Turn the car around! That may be the best voice you've ever heard in your life!"

Mottola was married to Lisa Clark at the time, and was the father of two children. However, per additional excerpts of Hitmaker published by the Daily Mail, he said he and Carey were "flirtatious" from the moment they met. Mottola signed Carey to a $80,000 music contract and released Mariah Carey in June 1990 — the same year as his divorce from Clark. 

Although Mottola and Carey's initial business relationship evolved into a romance, Mottola was warned that this relationship was already riding on a dead-end street. Even Mottola's therapist voiced disapproval with the burgeoning affair between young singer and the music executive who was 20 years her senior. Mottola's children from his first marriage also knew that he was making a bad move. His kids, Michael and Sara, were crying during Mottola and Carey's $500,000 wedding in 1993. "They knew in their bones what I simply couldn't feel," Mottola wrote in Hitmaker.

Mariah Carey: Marriage was 'like being a prisoner'

Mariah Carey was living with roommates in Manhattan when she signed her recording contract with Tommy Mottola. Despite instantly achieving riches and fame, Carey was still 19 years old and getting her own footing when she became involved with Tommy Mottola. "You might want to picture a child bride," she later told Cosmopolitan in 2019. "There was a conscious effort to keep me as this all-American, whatever that means, girl. It was very ­controlled. There was no ­freedom for me as a human being. It was almost like being a prisoner."

Despite the warning signs and their 20-year age difference, Mottola and Carey married in New York City in 1993. In a fairy tale wedding, 23-year-old Carey wore a $25,000 Vera Wang gown inspired by Princess Diana. But the fairy tale faded away, according to Carey, as she told America Magazine in 2005, "Yeah, everybody talks about [the wedding]. But no one saw me on the honeymoon, running down the beach, miserable, crying and alone." Mottola and Carey stayed together until 1997. They were officially divorced in 1998.

In 2008, while promoting her 11th album, E=MC2, Carey admitted that some tunes were about him and his control over her. "Some of the songs on the new album discuss a certain time of my life that was so intense," Carey told Parade. "I assumed that I didn't have a right to be happy in a personal life. If I had a career and all these other things, I thought, 'You asked for it, you got it.'"

Tommy Mottola regrets his marriage to Mariah Carey

Years after their divorce, Mariah Carey still feels Tommy Mottola's control over her. In 2001, Mottola allegedly instructed hip hop producer Irv Gotti to make a song for Jennifer Lopez that was similar to one on Carey's record for the semi-autobiographical film Glitter, according to Fox News. Carey sampled Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Firecracker" for the song "Loverboy," on which she worked with Gotti. A month later, according to Gotti, Mottola wanted that same sample for Lopez's future hit, "I'm Real."

Carey would later score a double flop with Glitter, as the album and film fell behind her previous successes. She asked Mottola to get out of her contract, and per Fox News, was allowed to release Glitter through a new deal with Virgin Records. Unfortunately, the singer also suffered "a physical and mental breakdown" around this time and was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, a battle she only revealed to the public via People in 2018. 

In excerpts from his 2013 memoir Hitmaker (via Billboard), Mottola expressed regret over what Carey went through during their marriage, but he also called Carey's allegations of abuse and harshness "untrue" and "lots of crap." Mottola also admitted that their relationship was "absolutely wrong and inappropriate." Mottola also admitted to being "truly sorry for any discomfort or pain that all of my good intentions inevitably caused [Carey], and most of all for the scars it left on my two oldest children."

Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola moved on

In 2000, Tommy Mottola married Mexican singer/actress Thalia, whom Mottola met through mutual friend Emilio Estefan, according to Billboard. "I know the separation between him and Mariah was hard for both of them," Estefan told the publication. "I love both of them, of course. I was a witness and a friend with Mariah, too, for many years being with them at big parties and celebrations." Estefan said Mottola went through a rough patch after divorcing Carey, but he found love with Thalia. "Both of them love each other and they have an incredible relationship," Estefan said. Mottola and Thalia remained married and have two children, Matthew and Sabrina.

Mariah Carey married actor Nick Cannon in 2008 after a short courtship. The couple welcomed twins Monroe and Moroccan in 2011, but their marriage ended in divorce in 2016. Carey and Cannon currently co-parent the twins, also known as #DemBabies. Carey was also engaged to Australian billionaire James Packer, who gave the pop diva a 35-carat engagement ring. However, the couple never made it to the altar, after breaking up in 2016. Carey instead sold her massive engagement ring for more than $2.1 million, per Us Weekly.

The singer hasn't given up on love. Carey is currently dating backup dancer Bryan Tanaka. The dancer and choreographer began working with Carey on her 2006 tour, but became Instagram official as a couple in February 2017.