Before presenting what Bobby Brown allegedly said and did, I must explain this book was originally conceived as an autobiography and author Derrick Handspike, according to his account, hung out with and interviewed the singer for a year, diligently wrote the book, and later squirmed as Brown and his advisers delayed final preparations for publication. Having heavily invested time and money, Handspike returned to his desk and changed the text from first person to third and then brought out “Bobby Brown, The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But…An Unauthorized Biography.”
The book could more correctly be titled “Bobby Brown, A Superficial and Poorly Written Account of a Persecuted Man.” Since I’m a Bobby Brown novice, interested primarily in the life of his former wife Whitney Houston, I almost bought this book on Amazon, for about fifty cents, soon after her death on November eleventh. I dallied a couple of days and had to pay four-fifty, plus shipping, and now note a new edition goes for more than ten bucks. Readers who are not Bobby Brown scholars may learn a few details not readily accessed online.
Assuming Handspike has quoted Brown accurately, and my sense is he did, the rhythm and blues singer, rapper, and dancer considered himself the “King of Stage.” It therefore surprises that this ostensibly self-assured entertainment powerhouse decided to deepfreeze his career at age twenty-three, when he married Houston in 1992, and instead devote himself to advising her. It is unsurprising that he began to “lose his identity” and morph from “Bobby Brown to Bobby Houston.” Brown explained that he was selflessly complying with the wishes of Houston, who told him he was six years younger and could instantly recapture his stardom when she scaled back her career in a few years. Brown said he sacrificed because he wanted love and children. (Their daughter Kris, now eighteen, has been under the media microscope since her mother died.) As America’s sweetheart, Whitney had a different “agenda.” Brown asserted she needed to change the public perception she was a lesbian or bisexual, but he offered no opinion about her preferences.
Soon they buried both careers under an avalanche of substance abuse. Brown avoided unpleasant references to Whitney Houston as he recounted his escapades but implicated her by allusion. I wager he’ll soon provide details in a book focusing on her habitual cocaine smoking. As for Brown, he admitted keeping “plentiful” quantities of coke at their home, Whitney’s mansion in New Jersey, and locking himself “up in a room for days at a time just getting high.” He also drank alcoholically and had several arrests, some for drunk driving, and wrecked his wife’s Porsche in 1996, breaking four ribs and a foot. He violated probation for one of his DUI convictions, testing positive for cocaine, which he claimed he never used until he met Houston. In 2001 he nearly died of a heroin overdose. His wife called 911 and emergency medical technicians had to apply electric paddles to restart his heart. That night he suffered a stroke that left his mouth twisted and made his “lips turn sideways” when he talked. Brown nonetheless bemoaned a legal system anxious to put him back in jail and said that was usually why he didn’t bother staying sober: the man would get him anyway.
Brown conceded he was prolifically unfaithful but only because women constantly “threw themselves” at him, a hazard he not unreasonably believed affects most successful men in show business, few of whom resist all temptations. Despite his unfortunate curriculum vitae, Bobby Brown seemed surprised and resentful that “several people wanted to see (he and Houston) divorced.” Her father was especially insistent, warning, “He’s no good for you. You have to get rid of him before he destroys you.” Brown attributed greed as motive for business associates telling Houston, “I know you could straighten out if you didn’t have that man around.”
Sadly, we now understand that Whitney Houston could not refrain from cocaine, alcohol, and tranquilizers after she and Brown officially separated in 2006 and divorced the following year. Two talented but troubled souls had attracted and loved each other but also undermined the other. Whitney Houston now has peace she seldom enjoyed in life, and one hopes Bobby Brown will learn that being “sober” is not, as he convinced himself in 2008, simply staying off cocaine and heroin while drinking beer all the time. If he’s still downing brews, he’ll have more trouble.