He was the domineering man who subjected this writer to a hostile drunken monologue... now a court has given him stifling control of his daughter's life - and it's driving her crazy
Britney Spears appears to have undergone a remarkable transformation. Less than a year ago, her reign as America’s favourite pop princess had descended into ghoulish soap opera.
Her bizarre drink and drug-fuelled behaviour had led to doubts about her sanity, she had lost custody of her two young sons to former husband Kevin Federline, and she had been forcibly taken to a psychiatric ward in Los Angeles after a stand-off with police.
Last week, however, she celebrated her 27th birthday with a smile on her face and a hit single, Womanizer, near the top of the charts.
Once shaven-headed and bloated from a diet of junk food and alcohol, Britney again looks toned and fit. Her recent appearance on X Factor during a whirlwind trip to London drew a record audience for the show.
The man credited as the architect of one of pop music’s most extraordinary comebacks is none other than Britney’s father, Jamie.
The 56-year-old former builder, who is divorced from Britney’s mother Lynne, was granted control over the star’s business affairs and appointed her ‘conservator’ – the equivalent of a child’s guardian for an adult – at a court hearing last February, shortly after her discharge from hospital.
This effectively handed Spears control over his daughter’s life and there is no doubt he takes the role seriously. His first act was to cut her off from an aide who was allegedly plying his daughter with pills. He ordered a halt to the spending sprees that were draining Britney’s fortune and made sure she kept away from the sleazy clubs and hangers-on who could drag her back to her old self-destructive habits.
He also masterminded her extraordinary return to the recording studio and stage. Britney has just released her sixth album, Circus, and will embark on a world tour in the New Year that is expected to earn in excess of £150million.
Yet something about her performance on X Factor – she lip-synched badly, danced unconvincingly and appeared stunned when asked about the relative merits of the contestants – suggests that all is not quite as it seems.
Insiders on her mini-tour of Germany, France and Britain revealed that the star lives in a bubble designed to maximise her potential as a money-making machine as well as physically separate her from all temptation – whether that be drugs, alcohol, junk food or men.
Failed marriage: Britney's parents Lynne and Jamie pictured in 2001. They divorced the following year after 20 years together
But Britney’s friends are worried that the regime imposed by her father does little for her fragile state of mind. They say that in private she confesses to feeling pressurised to perform, frequently dissolves in tears and has a volatile love-hate relationship with her father.
They also question whether Jamie Spears, a former bankrupt and recovering alcoholic whose only business experience is a failed building company is a suitable person to exercise such iron control over a very vulnerable young woman.
Certainly the Spears I met seven years ago at his isolated bungalow on a dirt road in rural Kentwood, Louisiana, didn’t seem the most sensitive of souls. In a terrifying encounter that lasted four hours, Britney’s father subjected me to a hostile drunken monologue while refusing to let me leave.
Every time I got up to go, he picked up a large carving knife and theatrically stabbed it into the wooden table at which we were sitting.
Tough love: Britney's father Jamie in their home town of Kentwood and, left, the star performing on X Factor
‘You can sleep here,’ he said. ‘You said you wanted to know what it was like being Britney.’
Two growling alsatians, a rottweiler and a man Spears claimed was a ‘bodyguard’ [probably programmer/handler] prowled the creaky back porch, which had been converted into a makeshift redneck bar complete with illuminated Budweiser sign, beer and whisky. An airgun lay in front of Spears.
He had been drinking heavily and was chewing Kodiak tobacco and showed me round the little house where Britney grew up while his ‘bodyguard’ cooked a huge iron pan of crayfish outside on a camping stove.
Surprisingly, the inside of the house was immaculate, almost as though no one lived there. It was also a rather spooky shrine to his famous daughter, with framed pictures, magazine covers, platinum records, concert posters and even used ticket stubs covering almost every available inch of space.
A kitsch sign outside Britney's father's house [Looks sort of like a Gingerbread House (children are eaten in it; Hansel and Gretel Brothers Grimm)]
Spears told me: ‘There’s not a man on earth could be happier than me. I have got the most famous daughter in the world.’ But he admitted: ‘I squandered my money on wild women and beer.
‘Britney is focused. She’s been a star since birth. I still build but I do it when I feel like it.’
Spears then attempted to give me a drunken hug. He confided that he was all but broke, but added that Britney had bought him the smart white pick-up truck parked outside and had bought his wife Lynne, from whom he was then estranged, a Mercedes.
My bizarre encounter with the man who controls a pop empire took place in March 2002. Britney was still a fresh-faced 20-year-old but already a pop phenomenon.
I finally managed to escape after Jamie and his ‘bodyguard’ escorted me to a local bar, where he said they needed to buy more beer.
It was a lifestyle from which young Britney had also tried to escape. When her breakthrough hit Baby One More Time came out in 1998, her parents had only a few months previously declared themselves bankrupt with debts of £100,000.
Their phone was cut off because of unpaid bills and their old Ford pick-up was seized and auctioned on the steps of the local courthouse. Its windscreen was cracked and there were 71,770 miles on the clock. The vehicle fetched £1,000.
Though many local people blamed Jamie Spears’s drinking for the failure of his business, Britney castigated herself. [all on her]
She believed her parents’ financial collapse and their subsequent divorce happened because she and her mother spent so long away from home – Britney starred in the long-running American TV show The Mickey Mouse Club.
As is often the case, however, her complicated relationship with her hard-drinking father was to cast a long shadow over her adult life. Britney’s romance with the clean-cut Justin Timberlake broke up after allegations that she was unfaithful.
She embarked on a string of tempestuous relationships soon afterwards that mirrored her father’s disastrous marriage. [victims often do this; find men that mirror their early abuser]
Her first husband, Jason Alexander, was a swaggering heavy drinker who could have been a younger Jamie Spears. The second – Federline, a little-known dancer – already had one child and a girlfriend who was eight months pregnant when his relationship with Britney began.
The most disturbing part of the new arrangement between father and daughter is that Britney’s show-business career is her father’s only passport out of poverty – a poverty that his alcoholism helped create.
With Britney’s apparent recovery, I spoke again to the Spears family’s friends in the faded town of Kentwood, population 2,174.
They told me that Jamie had been sober for five years after treatment at a rehabilitation clinic and hoped his own battle with alcohol would be an inspiration to his daughter.
One friend said: ‘He genuinely believes he can be an anchor in her life.
‘He’s very honest about his faults and he tells her, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say you’re to do.” She says she has forgiven him for her childhood. But I know she finds it hard. There’s a sadness in her eyes.’
When a court in Los Angeles appointed Spears his daughter’s conservator, he reportedly persuaded her to support his application by saying it would help her to win back custody of her children from Federline. But this is a development that conspicuously appears no nearer today than it did a year ago [MK victims' children are always used as pawns].
Her father’s supporters insist that his behaviour is the only type of ‘tough love’ that will prevent his daughter’s relapse into drink and drug addiction.
They point to her evident healthy glow and the rebirth of her show-business career as proof that he has her best interests at heart.
But friends of Britney say she is becoming increasingly anxious about the power her father has over her life.
Tensions have been raised to an all-time high following the announcement that she will embark on a worldwide tour – a massive undertaking for any young star, let alone one who until so recently was on the edge of a total breakdown.
A tearful Britney is said to have threatened to cancel some engagements, complaining that she is not yet strong enough to cope. ‘She blames her father for everything,’ [rightly so] one acquaintance said. ‘He and Brit hardly spoke for years and now all of a sudden he is the king.
‘She has an overwhelming love-hate relationship with her dad, and now Jamie has alienated his daughter by treating her like an infant. She is given to crying fits and says her father has pushed her into performing before she is ready.’
Her friends acknowledge that her father has kept his promise to keep her away from the party, drink and drugs lifestyle [that is not the case] that prompted her downward spiral to a psychiatric clinic. But they say his controlling nature comes at a terrible price.
Britney at the MTV Video Music Awards in September
She is not allowed to drive her car or choose her own meals. She cannot leave her father’s side without permission – and then only with chaperones. All her phone calls are monitored and she is watched over day and night by guards.
On her recent mini-tour of Europe, she was surrounded by an entourage of 40 people and left the safety of her hotel room only to go out to ‘appearances’. She was not allowed to rehearse with the dancers on her shows.
Producers and studio technicians were refused any contact with her and all alcoholic drinks were banned – hotel minibars were emptied.
She lives in a strange netherworld of hotel rooms, rehearsal rooms, television studios, limousines and aeroplanes. Even Rolling Stone, America’s respected music magazine, was prompted to comment that because of the terms of the court order granting her father power of attorney over her life, ‘she has about as many legal rights as when she was a little girl’.
And in one rare moment of sad reflection, Britney herself said: ‘Even when you go to jail, you know there’s the time when you’re gonna get out. If I wasn’t under the restraints I am under, I would feel so liberated.’
The question now is: how long will Britney accept her father’s diktat? Already there are signs of rebellion. Shortly after her X Factor appearance, thousands of fans crammed into London’s Astoria club to see her, only to be informed she was ‘too shy’ to go on stage.
No matter how genuinely Jamie Spears wants to help his daughter, the fear is that this unsophisticated former alcoholic could be simply unable to help her escape the past.
[Obviously it's completely off the mark; all of it is about keeping her under control, nothing to do with 'helping' his daughter, the corporate controlled cash cow.] Edit: I was not aware that, like Miley (at just age 15, by Annie Leibovitz [the 'illuminists' main photogropher or something it seems, particularly Disney; might put a post together, these will feature in the post but in the mean time check out her 2003 Vogue Alice in Wonderland shoot (HQ images, I picked out two here and here) showing where 'Annie' is really coming from]) Britney was also photographed in pretty much the same pose (not by Leibovitz should say) in 1998 at age 16... coincidence? [Both Disney programmed slaves/future blood sacrifices; Russian Rapunzel ritual sacrifice also in this pose (even more similar to Miley's), ritual continued/repeated in CSI] Info from Backseat Cuddler (replaced image).