Grammy Award winning R&B singer, songwriter and occasional actor Bobby Brown, nicknamed Triple B and B. Brown, rose to fame as part of the popular music group New Edition. While with the group from 1978 to 1986, they recorded three studio albums and spawned three R&B No.1 hit singles with “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” He would briefly reunite with the group in 1996 for the reunion album “Home Again” and later in a stage show in 2005. He has since performed with the group in various concert tours and is set to record a new studio album with them.
After leaving New Edition in 1986, Brown embarked on a successful solo career thanks largely to “Don't Be Cruel” (1988), his only No. 1 hit record on the Billboard 200. The album received 7x’s platinum certification in the U.S. It spawned his signature song “My Prerogative” and the Grammy winner “Every Little Step.” Brown's other hit solo singles include “Girlfriend,” “On Our Own” and “Humpin' Around.” However, his career suffered a significant setback beginning in 1993 when he became involved in a string of legal troubles. His third and new solo album to date, “Forever” (1997), failed to leave an impact with audiences and critics.
As an actor, Brown has acted in several movies, including “Ghostbusters II” (1989), “Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme” (1990, TV), “ A Thin Line Between Love and Hate” (1996), “Two Can Play That Game” (2001), “Gang of Roses” (2003), “Nora's Hair Salon” (2004) and “Nora's Hair Salon II” (2008) and in the TV series “Outsider's Inn” (2008, 7 episodes). In 2005, he starred in the reality show “Being Bobby Brown.”
Brown was married to singer Whitney Houston from July 1992 to April 2007. They share a daughter named Bobbi Kristina Brown. Brown also has two children (a son and a daughter) with Kim Ward and a son with Melika Williams. He and his fiancé Alicia Etheridge had a son named Cassius Brown in 2009.
Childhood and Family:
Bobby Brown was born Robert Barisford Brown on February 5, 1969, in Boston, Massachusetts. The youngest of five children, he had his first taste of performing in front of the public at age 4 when his mother put him on stage to dance during the break of a James Brown show in Boston. By the time he had reached 7 or 8, he had decided to dance and singing professionally. He later participated in school talent shows and performed with his own band, Bobby and the Angels.
On July 18, 1992, Bobby married musician/actress/producer Whitney Houston (born on August 9, 1963). The couple welcomed a daughter they named Bobbi Kristina Brown on March 4, 1993. In October 2006, Houston filed for divorce. Their divorce was finalized in April 2007 with Bobby losing custody of their daughter to Houston. Prior to the marriage, Bobby had two children, Bobby Brown, Jr. and LaPrincia Brown, with his then-girlfriend Kim Ward and a son named Landon Brown with Melika Williams. On May 30, 2009, Bobby welcomed a new son, Cassius Brown, with his companion Alicia Etheridge.
Every Little Step
Bobby Brown began performing with schoolmates Michael Bivins and Ricky Bell in 1978, which eventually morphed into New Edition. Brown's best friend, Ralph Tresvant, quickly joined the group as their lead singer and in the early 1980s, Ronnie DeVoe joined the group. Brown and his band mates caught the attention of producer Maurice Starr after they took second place at a talent show. Starr decided to manage the group and signed them to his label, Streetwise. Recorded in 1982, New Edition's debut album, “Candy Girl,” was released on March 13, 1983, and produced by Starr and Arthur Baker.
The lead single “Candy Girl,” which was released on March 24, 1983, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart on May 13, 1983. It peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100. Internationally, the single skyrocketed to No. 1 on the U.K. Singles chart. The second single, “Is This the End,” went to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 85 on the Billboard Hot 100. A double A-side single, “Popcorn Love/Jealous Girl” rose to No. 25 on the R&B chart in 1984.
Despite the success of the group's first release, the guys parted ways with Starr in 1984 due to financial reasons. Brown and his friends then signed with MCA Records and released their self titled second album in North America on July 6, 1984. Produced by Ray Parker, Jr. and Michael Sembello, the album rose to No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and No. 8 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The first single, “Cool It Now,” became the group's second No.1 hit on the R&B chart and their first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (#4) It also peaked at No. 43 in the U.K. The album spawned the hit singles “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Lost in Love.”
Brown and New Edition released the third album, “All for Love,” on November 8, 1985. The album went to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B Albums Chart and No. 32 on Billboard's 200. It was nominated for Grammys in the categories of Best R&B Album and Best R&B Song and went platinum thanks to the R&B top 10 hits “Count Me Out,” “With You All the Way” and “A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes).” “All for Love” would become Brown's last album with New Edition before he left the group and launched a career as a soloist in 1986. Prior to his departure, Brown and New Edition appeared in the 1985 film “Krush Groove,” where they performed “My Secret.” The same year, they also made a guest appearance in an episode of “Knight Rider” called “Knight Song.”
Brown released his debut solo album “King of Stage” on December 11, 1986, under MCA Records. The album peaked at No. 88 on the Billboard 200 and No. 12 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart. It also made the top 40 in the U.K. The album yielded two singles with the songs “Girlfriend” (1986), a No. 1 hit on the Billboard R&B charts and No. 57 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Girl Next Door” (1987), which missed the top 30 on the Billboard R&B chart (#31).
However, Brown did not become an overnight sensation until he released the successful sophomore effort “Don't Be Cruel” on June 20, 1988. Produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface, the album scorched through the Billboard 200 and landed at No. 1. It also rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, No. 3 on the U.K. Albums chart and No. 5 and No. 20 in Australia and Sweden, respectively. The title track debuted at No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 before rising and peaking at No. 8 on the chart in October 1988. It marked Brown's second R&B No.1 hit single as a solo artist after “Girlfriend” and was certified gold by RIAA. Brown scored his first chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100 with the second single “My Prerogative,” which he co-wrote and co-produced with Gene Griffin and Teddy Riley. The song also went to No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart and No. 6 in the U.K. and was nominated for a 1988 Grammy for Best R&B Urban Contemporary Single by a Male. The song went gold in the U.S. The album produced three more gold singles with “Roni” (1989, written by Babyface), “Every Little Step” (1989) and “Rock Wit'cha.” “Roni” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs and No. 21 in the U.K., while “Every Little Step” also topped the charts. “Every Little Step” won Brown a 1990 Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. “Rock Wit'cha” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 3 on the U.S. R&B Singles chart and No. 33 in the U.K. “Don's Be Cruel” eventually was certified 7x’s platinum by RIAA and went double platinum in the U.K.
In April 1989, Brown recorded the song “On Our Own” for the soundtrack to the Ivan Reitman directed sequel “Ghostbusters II” (1989), where he also appeared as Mayor's Doorman. The song, released as a single on May 30, 1989, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 15 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs and No. 4 on the U.K. Singles chart. It was certified platinum by RIAA. “On Our Own” was included on Brown's remix album “Dance!...Ya Know It,” which was released on October 26, 1989. The album also contained remixes of various songs from his “King of Stage” and “Don't be Cruel” albums. The album peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and No. 7 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It went platinum in the U.S. and gold in the U.K., where the album made the top 30 (#26).
In 1990, Brown returned to acting when he landed a role in the Emmy winning TV film “Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme,” opposite Shelley Duvall, Woody Harrelson, Teri Garr and Deborah Harry, among other actors. The show was directed by Jeff Stein.
Brown released his third solo record, “Bobby,” on August 25, 1992. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and became his second solo album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It was certified double platinum by RIAA. Internationally, the album hit No. 11 in the U.K., No. 2 in Australia and No. 4 in Sweden. The hit single “Humpin' Around” (released on July 28, 1992) spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It went gold in the U.S. The subsequent single “Good Enough” rose to No. 5 and No. 7 on the Billboard R&B chart and the Billboard Hot 100, respectively, and was certified gold. The album generated two more R&B hit singles with “Get Away” and “That's the Way Love Is.”
Brown' second remix album, “Remixes in the Key of B,” was released in 1993. It featured the remix version of “Two Can Play That Game.” Re-released in 1995, the song peaked at No. 3 in the U.K. and marked Brown's last major hit in that country. Also in 1993, Brown released a compilation album titled “B. Brown Posse.” The album featured other artists like Harold Travis, Smoothe Sylk, Dede O'Neal, Coop B and Stylez. It was also around 1993 that Brown was arrested in Georgia for an excessively suggestive stage performance, an incident that would prove to be the beginning of Brown's many legal troubles over the next few years. In February 1994, Brown was arrested at an Atlanta jazz club for failure to appear in court for traffic violations. Two months later, he had problems with the IRS for failure to pay back taxes. He was arrested again in April 1995 for an attack at a Disney World night club, but the charges were dropped. Brown was arrested again after kicking a security guard at a Hollywood hotel.
In 1996, Brown rejoined New Edition for the group's comeback album “Home Again,” which was recorded with Johnny Gill. The album became a chart topper on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. Thanks to popular singles like “Hit Me Off,” “I'm Still in Love With You,” “You Don't Have to Worry” and “One More Day,” the album went double platinum in the U.S. He, however, left the group in the middle of the 1997 Home Again Tour. Still in 1996, Brown portrayed Tee in Martin Lawrence's “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” It was his second film performance after Mario Van Peebles' “Panther” (1995). Despite the brief career restoration, Brown's bad publicity continued in December 1996 when he was arrested for drunk driving in Miami.
In early 1997, Brown entered a clinic for alcohol dependency. While there, he was in trouble with the tabloid press after allegedly calling his wife a lesbian. Later that same year, on November 4, Brown tried to resume his solo career by launching the studio album “Forever,” the follow up to 1992's “Bobby.” The album peaked at No. 61 on the Billboard 200 and No. 15 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The single “Feelin' Inside” rose to No. 42 on the U.S. R&B chart and No. 40 in the U.K.
After the failure of the album, Brown faced marital troubles when he was accused of striking Houston in a hotel lobby in 1997. In June 1998, he was accused of sexual assault, but the charge was dropped due to lack of evidence. Also in 1998, he spent five days in jail for his 1996 drunk driving accident. In addition, he was ordered to pay a $500 fine and received a year’s probation, 30 days in a rehabilitation center and 100 hours of community service. His license was suspended after the incident. Brown, however, was arrested in 1999 for breaking the terms of his probation and was threatened with 90 days in prison. He was arrested again in May 2000 for violating his probation.
Despite his continuing legal troubles, Brown attempted to renew his career by appearing in the films “Two Can Play That Game” (2001, played Michael) and “Go for Broke” (2002). He went on to play roles in the films “Gang of Roses” (2003) and “Nora's Hair Salon” (2004). Meanwhile on the music front, Brown was featured on Ja Rule's single “Thug Lovin” (2002).
In 2005, Brown starred in Bravo's reality TV show “Being Bobby Brown,” which focused on Brown's life and his marriage to pop superstar Whitney Houston. In 2006, Brown released an uncharted single called “Lying Eyes” and contributed to Damian Marley's “Beautiful,” a No. 39 hit in U.K. He returned to acting two years later with roles in the film “Nora's Hair Salon II” and the TV series “Outsider's Inn” (7 episodes). In 2009, Brown released a single titled “Damaged.”
Brown has reconciled with New Edition since 2005 and has performed with the group in concert tours. The group is set to release a new studio album in 2010.
Grammy: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, “Every Little Step,” 1990Show Less