Bobby Brown’s oldest son Landon Brown got a crash-course in fame in 2008 when the National Enquirer posted a story with a headline that read: “Stepson: Life with Whitney Houston Was A Nightmare.” The tabloid spoke to Landon about growing up with stepmom Whitney Houston as a part of an interview following his appearance on the MTV reality show “Rock the Cradle” – a competition series where the children of real-life rock stars vied for a recording contract.
The article used the 25-year-old singer/songwriter’s quotes to question Whitney’s parenting skills, claimed she kept him away from his sister, Bobbi Kristina, and alleged physical abuse on behalf Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston.
After the National Enquirer issue was released, Landon spoke to yours truly in an exclusive for AOL Black Voices on June 13, 2008 to set the record straight. Now, five years later and just one year after the death of the iconic ‘And I’ll Always Love You’ singer, Landon said the tabloid interview is still the first thing you see if you Google his name.
“I was a newbie to the media then and didn’t understand the way they could distort your words to make a story more interesting,” he told AlwaysAList.com, in an exclusive new interview. “I told a story about my childhood being tough, because I didn’t get to spend as much time with my sister as I wanted to. I said that the people around Whitney kept me from her claiming she needed room to breathe. Whitney wanted nothing more than for me to be a big brother to my sister! It sounds ridiculous for someone to be in love with my father, but want to keep his son away from his daughter.”
Whitney read the National Enquirer interview and phoned Landon to ask why he said those things. It’s a phone call he said he will never forget!
“You know that terrible feeling like your heart just dropped to your ankles? That’s how I felt when she called me about the interview! I had to explain to someone who treated me like her own that I didn’t realize someone would flip my words to make a story juicy,” he said.
The Grammy-winning superstar understood tabloid culture very well, having been the subject of many National Enquirer cover stories throughout her career. Whitney told her stepson she was accustomed to the methods of gossip hounds and completely comprehended how Landon ended up in that predicament.
“Before I could finish explaining, she laughed and said she understood,” remembered Landon. “She told me that ‘it happens’ and ‘it’ll happen again one day.'”
Despite the press reports, Landon said Whitney was a great stepmom who treated him like he was her biological son. “She treated me like her own son and constantly told me how much she respected my mother,” he expressed, before adding: “But Whitney wanted me to call her mom!”
Landon remembered an incident when Whitney and his mom, Melika Williams were together and he felt awkward about calling both of them “mom” while they were in the same room. Landon’s obvious avoidance of referring to Whitney as his “mom” hurt her feelings.
“I playfully called her ‘lady.’ I was like, ‘Hey lady, you want some cake?’ I just wasn’t sure if I should call them both mom or if that would make my mother feel a lil uncomfortable. I thought it was nothing until she called me later that night after the festivities asking why I didn’t call her mom. I was a lil shocked. I thought it was a strange moment, but nothing she’d remember. I felt like a jerk! I still didn’t know what I should’ve done in that situation, but for some reason I felt wrong. I know it really hurt her when my sister called shortly after asking what had I done cause [Whitney] was upset. I explained what happened and my sister laughed at me and told me you should’ve just called her mom you know you have more than one! That made me really feel terrible that my youngest sister saw the answer so clearly! I love my mothers and my siblings and I would never want to be the guy to slander their names.”
But Landon realized he would never get a chance to call Whitney “mom” again after getting an unforgettable phone call from his dad on Feb. 11, 2012.”
I was in Arizona having a conversation with Columbus Short when I got a call from my father telling me that Whitney was gone,” he recalled. “He sounded like he didn’t have many words to offer me at the time. It was like he was still trying to believe she was gone. He told me to get to my sister immediately, but I was so far away. By the time I got back, there wouldn’t be any way to find her. Her phone was cut off and the people that protect my sister do a very good job of it.”
Landon attended Whitney’s funeral with his dad at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Unfortunately, do to a disagreement with Whitney’s family, Bobby and his children did not stay for the homegoing service. He has not had contact with his sister, whom the family affectionately calls Krissy, since then.
“A year has passed and I still haven’t heard from her,” he confessed. “Before Whitney died, she was the only way I would know where they were. When I heard she passed away I was hurt, but my mind immediately went to my sister. No matter how close I thought me and Whitney were, she was my sister’s best friend! Only my sister could tell me what that hurt feels like. The last time I spoke to Whitney she told me to protect my sister. Kind of feels like I failed that mission because it has been a year without being able to let her cry on my shoulder.”
Landon believes that his sister is strong and has the spiritual foundation that her mom taught her to draw from.
“Sometimes Whitney would call me late at night and we’d be on the phone until 4am venting to each other. She would always quote scriptures that helped with my problems and always wanted to keep me perseverant,” he reminisced. “I know it isn’t too late for me to be the family that Krissy can count on! Whitney would want that.”
Bobbi Kristina acknowledged on Lifetime’s “The Houstons: On Our Own” that she “loves her dad,” but chooses not to communicate with him at this time. She confessed to having issues with Bobby’s new wife, Alicia, who he wed this past summer in Hawaii.
“My father could best describe their relationship,” offered Landon. “But what I can say is he has a special place in his heart for his daughters. My sister is healthy, living life, smiling, and enjoying herself. My father is the rock of this family! He’s the best father, and everyday he is trying to be a better one!”
In addition to having two moms, Landon also has two dads. His stepfather is actor Carl Anthony Payne, best known for his roles on “Martin” and “The Cosby Show.”
Now a father himself of a three-year-old daughter named Nilaan, Landon plans to live his life in the spirit of his late stepmom.
“Whitney was an amazing person who lived life to the fullest despite any obstacle! She left us knowing that the way we use our time is important. No regrets! Working hard and having a good time. Keeping those close to us aware that they are close to us. Making our positives and negatives a blueprint for the next generation to build a better foundation,” he closed.