Wow, does this bring back memories. I loved New Edition, who didn’t? So today I am paying tribute to one of my fav R&B groups of the 80s and for good measure, I threw in some of my jams from Bobby Brown.
Brown, for my hardcore fans, you may remember, after leaving New Edition in 1986, Brown released his first solo album, King of Stage, in 1986. This album included “Girlfriend,” a minor hit which went to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and #57 on the Billboard Hot 100. Brown’s next album, 1988’s Don’t Be Cruel rocketed him to super stardom. Working with the writing/producing team of L.A. Reid and Babyface, as well as Teddy Riley, Don’t Be Cruel spawned five Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles: “Don’t Be Cruel” (#8), “Every Little Step” (#3), “Rock Wit’ Cha” (#7), “My Prerogative” (#1), and “Roni” (#3). The album would eventually be certified 8x platinum (8,000,000 units sold). In 1989, he contributed two songs (including “On Our Own,” which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100) to the Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack, in addition to making a cameo in the film. Brown has subsequently dabbled in acting.
The other solo acts and groups spun from New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant didn’t get their start until 1990.
About New Edition
New Edition was formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1978, and was the most popular group during the 1980s. Their success led to the creation of late-1980s and 1990s boy bands like New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, the Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync.
Guided by producer Maurice Starr, New Edition was originally a trio, but first recorded as a Jackson 5-esque collection of five young black teenage singers, including lead singers Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, and Ricky Bell and rappers Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe. Like the Jackson 5 before them, New Edition became a pop phenomenon, and were big enough to have Madonna as an opening act during their early days. In the early 1980s, New Edition sold more units in the United States than any other teen singing group.
The group was formed by Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins and Ricky Bell in 1978, while living at the Orchard Park housing projects (or what the group and residents of the area calls them popularly as “The Bricks”) in the Roxbury district of Boston, Massachusetts. They would soon meet a young local group manager/choreographer named Brooke Payne, who would give them the name, ‘New Edition.’ Bell soon brought his best friend Ralph Tresvant in on the act, who quickly became their lead singer. After winning a talent show in 1980, Payne’s nephew, Ronnie DeVoe, was then recruited into the group. Another neighbor from Orchard Park, Ronnie had been in another local group called “The Dramatics”, Payne rounded out the line-up by bringing in his nephew, Ronnie DeVoe.
In December 1985, under pressure from MCA and their management, the group was forced to vote Bobby Brown out, due to behavioral problems. Brown embarked on a solo career in 1986, while New Edition continued to promote All for Love as a quartet. In spite of their financial and internal conflicts, New Edition continued to peak. During this era of the group’s evolution, the group (sans Brown) appeared in the episode of Knight Rider titled ‘Knight Song’, performing “Count Me Out.” As 1986 wound to a close, they recorded a cover of The Penguins 1954 hit, “Earth Angel” for the soundtrack to The Karate Kid, Part II. The song peaked at #21, and inspired the group to record Under the Blue Moon, an album of doo-wop covers.
After having already lost a member when Bobby Brown was terminated from the group, New Edition’s future became more uncertain when murmurings began to surface that lead singer Ralph Tresvant was eyeing a solo career as well. To pad his potential departure, singer Johnny Gill was voted into the group by Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ron DeVoe in 1987, despite Tresvant’s ultimately deciding to remain in place. A native of Washington, DC, Johnny Gill is the only non-Boston native among the group’s six members.
At present, New Edition is currently signed to Aftermath Entertainment and is currently recording their eighth studio album with all six members, hence their second album as a sextet. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are expected to handle 90% of the album’s production and writing duties. Also in the works are a bio-book and a biopic about the group. In an interview with NJS4ever.com, Bobby Brown also mentioned that both he and Johnny Gill are scheduled to release albums in 2008. He spoke about the group’s release also. The group (minus Brown) is also working on a new song duet with New Kids on the Block called, “Full Service” for their upcoming album as well.
- 1983: Candy Girl #111 (US); #22 (US R&B)
- 1984: New Edition #6 (US); #1 (US R&B)
- 1985: All for Love #32 (US); #3 (US R&B)
- 1986: Under the Blue Moon #43 (US); #11 (US R&B)
- 1988: Heart Break #12 (US); #3 (US R&B)
- 1996: Home Again #1 (US); #1 (US R&B)
- 2004: One Love #12 (US); #4 (US R&B)
- 2008: Candy Girl 25th Anniversary Edition
- TBA: Eighth studio album
You can catch Johnny Gill performing live in Compton along with Jody Watley and Anthony Hamilton at the 2008 Compton Summer Soul Jam Concert Series taking place on Saturday, August 16 at the Par Three Golf Course located at 6400 E. Compton Blvd. Tickets are $60 for VIP and $35 for General Admission.
Me with Ralph Tresvanat in Los Angeles