Bobby Brown: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But... is a frustrating read. Subtitled as "An Un(Authorized)? Biography," it offers little insight into Brown's psyche, no tidbits on the making of Don't Be Cruel, and zero interviews with his New Edition bandmates. The anecdotes about Brown's relationship with Whitney Houston are unbelievable, such as the following account of events leading up to a domestic abuse arrest:
"They used to horseplay a lot, and on this day he smacked [Houston] kind of hard and ran out the house laughing. She got upset and called the police because she was startled and offended, although she knew he didn't mean any harm. He was on his way out of town, so he headed to the airport. When he got news that she called the police, he went back home to apologize. By this time, the police were already looking for him with a warrant for domestic violence."
The book also suffers from clunky writing and demonstrably false statements. Particularly preposterous are author Derrick Handspike's claims in the foreward that the book has received "about as much coverage" as O.J. Simpson's murder trial and "more coverage than the presidential election."
The truth is, the book's backstory is more compelling than the work itself. After Brown's divorce from Houston in April 2007, he and longtime friend Handspike began interviews for what was supposed to be a co-authored autobiography released in May 2008. But after months of research in both Atlanta and Los Angeles – where Brown now keeps his primary residence – Brown abruptly pulled out. Handspike decided to rewrite the story as a biography and unveiled it in December under his independent imprint, Down South Books.
The Gwinnett-based Handspike believes leaks of sensitive material soured Brown on the project, including the claim that Brown never used cocaine until he met Houston, and his suspicions that she'd married him to silence rumors she was a lesbian. Though Brown had already OK'd the manuscript's final version, Handspike says, he balked at finalizing a release agreement after the comments were widely reported in April. (Neither Brown nor Houston responded to CL's interview requests.)
Handspike says that though he and Brown haven't spoken in months, "There's never been bad blood between us," and speculates that Houston helped scuttle Brown's involvement with the book. "Whitney has always been pretty much taking care of that relationship financially, and she was the only person, from my perspective, that could have that kind of influence over him." Handspike admits, however, he made no effort to contact Houston.
Handspike was a fairly successful music producer in the '90s. He co-wrote the Ghetto Mafia's "Straight from the Dec," and takes credit for recording Goodie Mob's first tracks. "I pretty much put the group together," he says, though the group cut ties with him before its first album. A few years ago, Handspike decided to try his hand in publishing, and began compiling material for a biography of former Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison, another personal friend. The book, due in May, will delve heavily into his relationship with deceased TLC member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.
Brown, meanwhile, was pursuing a book project of his own with flame Karrine "Superhead" Steffans, the author of the best-selling tell-all memoir Confessions of a Video Vixen. After catching wind of the Rison book, Brown decided to work with his friend and budding author. "It was a month after his divorce," Handspike says, "and he was ready to talk, to get his story out there."
Though offering no solid numbers, Handspike insists the book is doing "extremely well." (About three weeks after its release date, it stood at No. 10,331 on Amazon's sales ranking.) But it's surely hampered by its bizarre, unverified accounts. There's no doubt a well-researched profile of Brown's pop music trailblazing, hedonism, and reality show turns would be interesting. In the end, The Truth invites more questions than it answers.
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