Britney tells the full amazing story of the roller-coaster life of one of the world’s most popular stars. Travel with bestselling author Sean Smith as he paints a picture of the real Britney Spears – a little church-going Southern girl described by her tutor at Disney as ‘the sweetest, most wholesome, most innocent person that you’d ever want to meet’, who became a desperately unhappy victim of fame.
Britney Spears was a child star on Broadway at ten, with Disney at eleven, a number one recording artist at seventeen and a multi-millionairess before her eighteenth birthday. But that success counted for nothing as she faced the agony of a marriage break-up that left her battling for custody of her two sons. Her eventual breakdown was seen by millions around the world. Few could forget the sight of a distressed Britney strapped to an ambulance trolley on her way to a psychiatric unit.
But, incredibly it was not the last we heard of Britney and, phoenix-like, she recovered to produce a US number one single and album and headline a sell-out world tour. Using a series of exclusive interviews, Sean Smith reveals a complex yet genuinely nice young woman who at last seems to be winning.
“Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were made for each other. They were the teen dream couple; the Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney for a celebrity-obsessed generation. If not the king and queen of pop, they were certainly the prince and princess. Without exception, those that knew them as skinny youngsters say that there was always something special between them.
If their romance was a Hollywood script, a variation of When Harry Met Sally, then the first show-stopping scene would have been their duet on The Mickey Mouse Club when they sang an exhilarating version of ‘I Feel For You’ to each other. It made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. Tony Lucca, now a solo artist, still recalls watching them perform it at the dress rehearsal before taping: ‘You knew that these kids were going to be huge stars but you also knew that they were going to be together.’
Singing coach Bob Westbrook remembers the first time he realized that there was a special connection between them. Neither of them knew he taught the other. He had been Justin’s original singing teacher in Memphis but also taught students at his other base in McComb, Mississippi. When she was twelve, Britney would take lessons from him when she was between seasons of The Mickey Mouse Club. One day she took a tape out of her bag, declaring that she had something she really wanted him to hear. It was the duet with Justin and, of course, Bob recognized his other pupil at once.
‘Oh, that’s Justin,’ said Bob as Britney’s mouth fell open in amazement: ‘She whipped round and asked me, “Do you know him?” and I said, “Sure I’m his teacher,” and her jaw just dropped. They had both talked about their singing teacher but it had not clicked they were the same person because of the different locations. I could tell she was enamoured of him already. She had a childhood crush on him. Don’t kid yourself. I could tell!’
Bob knew that Justin had been booked to perform ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ before the start of an ice-hockey game involving his local Memphis team. Bob asked Britney, ‘Would you like to go up there and sing it with him?’ She could not believe her good fortune. ‘She was asking, “Could I really do that? Could you work that out for me?” So I just smiled and told her, “All I’ve got to do is make a phone call.”’
Two phone calls later and Britney was on her way to Tennessee to sing in public with Justin Timberlake for the first time. “
what sean says
The woods around here are deathly quiet. I am in Mississippi, just across the state line with Louisiana. I have been invited to a barbecue by Reg Jones, Britney’s first serious boyfriend when she was a teenager and before she went out with Justin Timberlake. We chat, drink beer and throw golf balls into the woods for the energetic dog of the house to run and fetch. It’s a lazy old time. This slow and peaceful environment is where Britney Spears grew up.
Reg told me how he had taken Britney turkey hunting but she had to give up because she got bitten to hell by mosquitoes. He also took her and her sister Jamie Lynn deer hunting and the young girls watched as they killed two deer. Jamie Lynn even went to pet a deer after he had been shot dead. Britney never tried shooting herself but Reg said she was cool with it.
The woods can be a scary place at night, especially when the coyotes start howling. Britney didn’t like it much when darkness fell and Reg recalled that she got really upset and started crying. Britney was never much of a tomboy.