New Edition Biography

Upbeat US teenage pop stars New Edition were formed by Maurice Starr, who modelled them on the Jackson Five. He recruited five handsome young men, Bobby Brown (5 February 1969, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), Ralph Tresvant (b. 16 May 1968, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), Michael Bivins (b. 10 August 1968, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), Ricky Bell (b. 18 September 1967, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), and Ronnie DeVoe (b. 17 November 1967, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), who originally performed high-quality mainstream pop with soul overtones. As their careers progressed, however, they began to incorporate the sound and style of hip-hop, inadvertently becoming forerunners for the ‘New Jack Swing’ (aka swingbeat) hybrid that Teddy Riley then developed. Following the success of 1983’s Candy Girl, New Edition fired Starr, who then repeated the trick and earned a good deal of money by masterminding the career of New Kids On The Block. The first rap exchanges occurred on New Edition, their MCA Records debut, where the quintet proved particularly effective on tracks such as ‘School’. Shortly afterwards, Brown left for a hugely successful solo career that still embraced hip-hop as well as harmonic soul ballads. New Edition continued with an idiosyncratic album of doo-wop cover versions, before the arrival of Johnny Gill for 1988’s Heart Break, which was produced by Jimmy Jam And Terry Lewis.

By the turn of the decade, with sales and interest slumping, the remaining members set out on more successful solo projects. Bell Biv DeVoe comprised the adventures of the three named founder members, while both Gill and Tresvant followed the solo trail. A total reverse in New Edition’s fortunes occurred in 1996, when their first album in many years entered the Billboard album chart at number 1, a remarkable comeback, no doubt boosted by the presence of original member Brown. In 2002, New Edition, minus Brown, announced they had signed a new recording contract with the Bad Boy label, the resulting album was One Love, nearly two years later.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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