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New Edition is an African-American R&B/Pop group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1978, that was most popular 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; Payne later rounded out the line-up by bringing in his nephew, Ronnie DeVoe.
1983-1985: BeginningsThe group would perform all around Massachusetts and would eventually land a spot at a talent show which ran by Maurice Starr, where the first prize was $500.00 and a recording contract. New Edition came in 2nd place, but Starr decided to bring the group to his studio the following day and would record their debut album, Candy Girl. Released in 1983, on Starr’s Streetwise Records, the album featured the hits: “Is This The End,” “Popcorn Love,” “Jealous Girl” and the title track, which went to number one in both the American R&B singles chart and the UK singles chart.
Returning from their 1st major tour across the country, the boys were dropped back off to their homes in the projects and were given a check in the amount of $1.87 a piece for their efforts. Tour budget and expenses were given as the explanation to why they were not paid more. Due to financial reasons, New Edition parted company with Starr in 1984 (Starr responded by promptly creating the group New Kids on the Block; essentially formatted after New Edition, but with white teenagers.) The group, meanwhile, went on to sign a major label deal with MCA Records, which released their self titled second album the same year. Eclipsing their debut album, New Edition spun off the top five hit “Cool It Now,” and the top twenty “Mr. Telephone Man,” and went on to be certified double platinum in the United States.
Following the success of the New Edition album, the group was dismayed to learn that while they believed they were signed to MCA Records, in truth, they had actually been misled into signing a deal with an outside production company—which had its own deal with MCA. Each group member borrowed five hundred thousand dollars from MCA in order to disentangle themselves from that deal, which would allow them to continue to record for MCA directly. This, however, put the group into liability with the label, and would force them to continually record simply to get out of debt.
New Edition’s third album, All for Love, was released in the latter half of 1985. While not duplicating the success of its predecessor, the album was certified platinum, and spawned the hits: “Count Me Out,” “A Little Bit Of Love (Is All It Takes),” and “With You All The Way.” The growing popularity of the group led to a guest appearance (as themselves) in the 1985 film Krush Groove, performing “My Secret.”Toward years end, Christmas All Over The World—a New Edition holiday EP—was released.
1986: The departure of Bobby Brown
In 1986, 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 the same year, 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 an episode of Knight Rider, performing “Knight Song.” 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.
1987-1989: The introduction of Johnny GillAfter 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, despite Tresvant’s deciding to remain in place. A native of Washington, DC, Johnny Gill is the only non-Boston native among the group’s six members.
New Edition’s fifth studio release, Heart Break—which also featured Gill as the co-lead vocalist—was released in the summer of 1988. Primarily produced by the production team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, the album was a departure from the group's previous bubblegum sound, and instead took on a smoother, stronger, and more adult resonance. Spinning off five hit singles: “If It Isn't Love,” “You're Not My Kind of Girl,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” “Crucial” and “N.E. Heartbreak”; Heart Break became New Edition’s most commercially successful album up to that point, certified double platinum in the United States, with worldwide sales of close to four million. The success of Heart Break would launch the group on a very successful concert tour as well in the closing months of 1988; with former member Bobby Brown, and Al B. Sure!, as their opening acts.
1990-1995: Solo projectsInspired by the substantial success Bobby Brown was having with his multi-platinum 1988 breakthrough album, Don’t Be Cruel, after the run of Heart Break, New Edition went on hiatus to pursue side projects away from the group. At the suggestion of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis—Bell, Bivins and DeVoe formed a trio, Bell Biv DeVoe. Their 1990 debut album, Poison, went triple platinum. The same year, lead singers Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill (who had already recorded as a solo act prior to joining New Edition) also released self-titled solo albums, which too also achieved multi-platinum success. Later that year, the group (including Bobby Brown) had a semi-reunion of sorts when they performed at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. In 1991, all six members recorded a remix of the Bell Biv DeVoe track “Word To The Mutha!,” Brown, Gill, and Tresvant also appeared in the music video. Prior to this, Brown also appeared in the music videos for Bell Biv Devoe's "BBD (I Thought It Was Me)" video, as well as Tresvant's "Stone Cold Gentleman" and "Sensitivity" Remix video.
1996-1997: Home Again reunionBy 1996, the members of New Edition had arguably achieved greater commercial success with their own side projects than the group had during its run. However, after having promised fans that there would be a reunion—and still contractually owing MCA Records another New Edition album—the group (with Bobby Brown) reunited to record Home Again, their first new album in eight years. The album debuted at #1 on both The Billboard 200 and R&B Albums chart, and became the most commercially successful album of the groups career; selling over four million copies worldwide. Home Again, meanwhile, produced several hits, including: the top ten pop hits: “Hit Me Off” and “I'm Still In Love With You.” The ensuing 1997 Home Again Tour, however, would prove disastrous for the group. Despite their not having toured together in close to a decade (and over ten years for Brown), old rivalries repeated themselves as egos clashed. By the middle leg of the tour, both Bobby Brown and Mike Bivins left, resulting in it ultimately ending early. When all was said and done, each of the group members again went their separate ways, this time on more hostile terms than ever—resulting in an indefinite hiatus that appeared to be the swansong for New Edition.
2002-present: New beginnings
After their second wave of solo pursuits proved less than successful, New Edition (sans Bobby Brown) reunited once more and began touring clubs, casinos, and small arenas in 2002, including appearing on Tom Joyner's Sky Shows. After having caught the attention of Sean Combs, who was present at one of their shows, he signed the group to his Bad Boy Records label, after their long term contract with MCA Records finally expired.In the fall of 2004, New Edition’s seventh studio album and Bad Boy debut, One Love, was released. Though the album debuted at #12 on The Billboard 200, it had a steady descent from the chart. The leadoff single, “Hot 2Nite,” underperformed—peaking at #35 R&B and #87 Pop. The group soon had a falling out with Combs. In an interview, Ricky Bell said that he had refused to pay long time producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for a track that the group wanted on the album, entitled "K.I.T. (Keep In Touch)". Reportedly, Combs told the group they were over budget, despite having used many of Bad Boy's in-house team of producers on the album. Ultimately, the group asked to be released from their Bad Boy contract. Despite the messy divorce with Bad Boy, New Edition soldiered on, touring with other recently reunited groups like Guy, BLACKstreet and SWV throughout 2005.
In the fall of 2005, New Edition performed a medley of hits at BET’s 25th Anniversary Special. During their set, they brought Bobby Brown out onstage for an impromptu rendition of their 1985 hit “Mr. Telephone Man.” It was later announced on BET and Access Hollywood that Brown has rejoined the group and will be on the next New Edition album. By January 2006, New Edition announced that the group would launch a new album and tour in 2008.
On August 26, 2006, New Edition filmed a concert at the University of South Carolina's Koger Center in Columbia set for a future DVD release, the concert was billed as “Spend the Night with New Edition,” a BET special presented by Lincoln whom the group has done advertising with, Bobby Brown also made an appearance at the show.
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.
- 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
- 2008: Studio Album 8