#Music #BelBivDeVoe #MichaelHallisey #SpotlightNews
Looking over a recent photo, you can still recognize their faces. You can still point out Bobby Brown as if it was the first time he was preaching about something being “My Prerogative,” or Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins warning you about some girl being “Poison.”
Especially, DeVoe. Take a look at him. He still has that baby face. And, he’s nearly 30 years removed from asking whether or not you “like what you see” in the sex-charged Bel Biv DeVoe anthem “Do Me.” While my friends and I weren’t quite sure what we were slappin’ up and flippin’ in high school, these four were taking the world by storm. And, now, they’re looking good, and I look nothing like I did in 1990. DeVoe and Bell laugh when I start our conversation by sharing in jest that I hated them for looking so good.
“That’s the most honest intro on the planet, man,” said DeVoe. “We love it. If you’re going to be hated for something, that’s definitely what you want to be hated for.”
The foursome is looking good as they set out to tour the country as RBRM, an acronym for Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike. See it as a joint show between Brown and Bel Biv DeVoe. Or, see it as a New Edition reunion, minus Johnny GIll and Ralph Tresvant. It doesn’t matter what you like, you won’t be wrong with either. Today’s name is a play on New Edition’s 1984 hit “Cool It Now.”
There’s no need to hate them for looking good today. It’s a by-product of each living a healthier life. On the phone, DeVoe and Bell sound humbled and thankful for the opportunity to perform in front of fans again. The upcoming performance at The Palace on Friday, Nov. 2, is more than a year after a New Edition mini-series on BET Network premiered last January. More than 30 million viewers watched and listened to confessions of addiction and transgressions. Now, DeVoe said they’re together and giving each other encouragement as they hit the gym and watch what they eat.
“When I see Rick coming upstairs from the gym, it makes me feel like I’ve got to get off my ass and make sure I’m doing what’s necessary to look the best possible on stage, and give people the best show possible,” said DeVoe.
They’re candid about their ages. Brown is the youngest at 49. Bell just turned 51 in September. Considering how long they’ve all been in the limelight, you’d think they were older. But, they’ve been in the limelight since first breaking out as young teenagers.
The four, along with Tresvant, broke out as young teenagers in 1983 with “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” The group’s management team supposedly named the group New Edition to declare them as the next rendition of the Jackson 5. But, behind the scenes, the kids out of Boston weren’t treated like royalty. After their first tour, the members of New Edition were dropped back off at their homes in the projects. Each left with a check in hand for less than $2. DeVoe said they didn’t know enough to look at the financials. They were teenagers on allowances. The $35 they received per diem each show was “like winning the lottery,” he said. That experience, however, would carry over.
Brown left the group before 1986. Aside from reports that he felt he received less attention than others in the band, Brown has said he never felt the group was paid adequately for the band’s success. He went on to a solo career under MCA, garnering a No. 1 standing on the R&B charts with “Girlfriend.” His 1988 follow-up, “Don’t Be Cruel,” topped the Billboard Top 200 album chart. It earned five Top 10 tracks on the Billboard Top 100, including “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Roni,” “Every Little Step,” “Rock Wit’cha,” and his No. 1 hit “My Prerogative.” The album would go on to be the top-selling album of 1989 selling eight-times platinum. In 1990 Bobby was awarded a Grammy for Best Male Vocal Performance for “Every Little Step.”
Bell, DeVoe and Bivins subsequent formed Bel Biv DeVoe in 1990. With a blend of hip-hop beats and R&B harmonies, the three helped usher in the burgeoning New Jack Swing sound with the trio’s 1990 debut album, “Poison.”
Selling more than four million copies worldwide, “Poison” generated two chart-topping singles, with “Poison” and “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?” reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Hot/R&B. The three followed with the Platinum-selling 1991 remix “WBBD-Bootcity,” and 1993’s Gold-Certified “Hootie Mack.”
Though the original intent was to have all six members of New Edition perform as a whole on this tour, crowds are still treated to what is essentially Bel Biv DeVoe and Bobby Brown. Bivins reported in May that a trademark issue prevented the group from performing together. Gill and Tresvant, who are not a part of this tour, own the rights to the New Edition name. On his Instagram account, he did not disclose the details, only to state, “We all felt like the victim at times in our long career and sometimes, it rears its head at the wrong time and last year was God’s time for us to smell our roses and to do what we do best — Entertain.”
Despite the division, the remaining four are looking up. Next year Bel Biv DeVoe start laying down plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Poison,” said Bell.
“For us, the magic has never left, it’s always been there,” said DeVoe, who added that each member of the original New Edition remained in touch through their respective projects and solo careers. “This, right here, feels good. God is amazing, in the way that He puts you with the people who you need to be around for a specific time. You really couldn’t dream some of these things up.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.