Singer Bobby Brown is known for hits including “Don't Be Cruel” and “Humpin’ Around.”
Bobby Brown dreamt of becoming a singer ever since he saw James Brown perform when he was 3-years-old. He started out singing in a church choir, where he distinguished himself with his beautiful and passionate voice.
At the age of 12, Brown formed a group with his friends Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ralph Tresvant and Ronnie DeVoe called New Edition. They rehearsed with a focus and discipline very rare for a group of pre-teen boys. After winning several talent shows, New Edition was discovered by producer and talent scout Maurice Starr, who landed them a recording contract with a small label called Streetwise in 1983.
That year they released their debut album, Candy Girl, a sugary sweet collection of songs that made the group an overnight sensation. The title track, “Candy Girl,” was highly reminiscent of The Jackson 5's “ABC.”
Bobby Brown Leaves New Edition
In 1984, New Edition switched to MCA Records and released a self-titled follow-up album that eclipsed the success of hit singles such as “Cool It Now” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” However, despite the enormous success of their music, the members of New Edition still only received the small salary stipulated in their exploitative contract with MCA.
“The most I saw for all the tours and all of the records we sold was $500 and a VCR,” Brown said. Believing that they were being treated “like little slaves by people who were only interested in money and power, and not the welfare of New Edition,” Brown left the group in 1986 to pursue a solo career.
In December 1986, Brown released his first solo album, King of Stage. While the album sold modestly and scored one major hit with the ballad “Girlfriend,” it failed to generate the level of excitement and acclaim for which Brown had hoped. Seeking to reinvent himself as an adult artist, Brown spent the next two years working closely with the acclaimed R&B songwriters and producers Teddy Riley, L.A. Reid and Babyface. The result of their collaboration, released in the summer of 1988, was a radically new R&B album called Don't Be Cruel that took the music world by storm, selling seven million copies on its way to becoming the bestselling album of the year.
Brown's high-powered, sexually charged music and live performances earned him comparisons to his childhood idol Michael Jackson. In 1990, Brown recorded “On Our Own,” the smash-hit theme song for the movie Ghostbusters II, and in 1992, he released his third album, Bobby, featuring the singles “Humpin’ Around” and “Good Enough.”
Bobby Meets Whitney
Just as Brown reached the summit of his popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his personal life began to spiral out of control. Tabloids reported obsessively on Brown's hard-partying lifestyle‐his heavy drinking, womanizing and drug abuse.
In the summer of 1992, Brown married fellow pop star Whitney Houston in one of the most highly publicized celebrity weddings in history. However, theirs was a tumultuous relationship from the start. They both drank heavily and became addicted to marijuana and cocaine. Brown was arrested several times throughout the 1990s for drug use and drunk driving, and rumors of marital infidelity and domestic violence became a ubiquitous presence in the tabloids for years on end.
During his 15 years of marriage to Houston, Brown produced only one album, 1997's Forever, which was a commercial dud.
Is Bobby Brown Still Married?
Soon after, Brown began dating a woman named Alicia Etheredge. They were engaged in 2010 and have three children together; a son named Cassius, a daughter Bodhi and another daughter Hendrix. The couple married in June 2012.
The couple co-founded Brown Ribbon Entertainment, which produces music from up-and-coming artists, as well as live theater performances and primetime television.
Drug-free after years of therapy, Brown released the single, “Get Out the Way,” in early 2011. “I'm doing wonderful,” Brown said at the time. “I'm just moving forward with my life and trying to stay positive at all times.” That summer, Brown reunited with the other members of New Edition to play the Essence Music Festival. He also performed solo at the Gathering of Juggalos, a music festival organized by the band Insane Clown Posse. (In 2022, the newly minted RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike) announced it would embark on a world tour.)
In December 2011, Brown's father died after a battle with cancer. Brown was also reportedly deeply upset by the death of his ex-wife Whitney Houston in February 2012.
Death of Daughter Bobbi Kristina
Tragedy struck again in July 2015 when his only daughter with Houston, Bobbi Kristina, died at the age of 22, after being in a medically induced coma for six months. Brown opened a not-for-profit shelter in Atlanta named after Bobbi Kristina in 2015. The shelter aims to provide 24-hour crisis intervention, emergency transitional shelter and access to resources/referral services for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
Brown became a father again shortly before the death of Bobbi Kristina when his wife Alicia Etheredge gave birth to their second child, Bodhi Jameson Rein.
In 2020, Bobby Brown's son from his relationship with Kim Ward, Bobby Brown Jr., died at his Los Angeles home from a suspected accidental overdose.
February 5, 1969
- When his second album, Don't Be Cruel, hit #1 US in 1989, Brown was just a few weeks shy of his 20th birthday. This made him just the fourth teenager to have a #1 album in America, following Ricky Nelson, Stevie Wonder and Tiffany. Debbie Gibson became the fifth when her album Electric Youth hit #1, replacing Don't Be Cruel at the top spot.
- He was 12 years old when he formed New Edition with his childhood friends Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. He was the first to leave the group, getting out in 1985 because he felt he was being exploited. Brown says the group members were getting $500 a week while their record company was making millions.
- In 1989, he had his own 900-number: 1-900-909-BOBB. Callers would be greeted (for a fee) by a different goofy message from Brown each day. At its peak, it got about 12,000 calls a day.
- Brown had a tumultuous marriage with Whitney Houston from 1992-2007, part of which was chronicled on the reality series Being Bobby Brown. The pair had one child, daughter Bobbi Kristina.
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