New Edition is a boy band that rose to fame in the ’80s. Some of their most popular hits include “Cool It Now”, “Mr. Telephone Man”, and “Candy Girl.” What happened to them? Where are they now in 2023? Let’s find out.
About New Edition
Childhood friends Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, and Michael Bivins began singing together in the Boston area hoping to earn some extra cash in elementary school. They eventually decided to form a boy band and recruited Ralph Tresvant and Ronnie DeVoe as their fourth and fifth members.
A number of talent show victories followed, including a gig at the local Hollywood Talent Night where they performed a rendition of The Jackson 5’s “The Love You Save.” While they only came in second place, their performance was enough to impress music producer Maurice Starr, who invited them to his music studio the following day to record what would become their first studio album.
They later released their first single, “Candy Girl” in February 1983, which Starr had co-written for the group. Despite the fact that they were unfamiliar names, the song was a smash hit, topping the R&B music charts. Not only that but it also charted on the Billboard Hot 100, Dance Club Songs, and Hot Black Singles charts, as well as in other countries. If anything, it was this song that launched their successful music career.
Their Rise to Stardom
Later that same year, the group released their debut album, also titled Candy Girl. Produced by Arthur Baker and Maurice Starr, it consisted of ten tracks including “Should Have Never Told Me”, “Jealous Girl”, “Gotta Have Your Lovin'”, “Gimme Your Love”, and “She Gives Me a Bang.” It also spawned two additional singles- “Is This the End” and “Popcorn Love”, both of which topped the R&B charts in the US.
Praised by critics, the album ended up entering Billboard’s Black LPs chart at number 44. Not only that but it was also named the Top Black album Pick by Billboard. In support of the album, the boys, which ranged in age from 13 to 15 at the time, also hit the roads for their first major concert tour.
Despite their success, the boys were only paid $1.87 each for their performances. When asked why the amount was so low, Starr reasoned that it was due to tour expenses. For this reason, the group later parted ways with Starr in 1984 (Starr would go on to form a new boy group called New Kids on the Block, which is essentially the same as New Edition, but with white teens).
Working with a law firm, the group eventually secured a bigger recording deal with MCA records, who won the bidding war. With them, they released their second album, the self-titled New Edition in September 1984. Produced by Grammy-nominated producer Michael Sembello, Richard Rudolph, Rick Timas, and Vincent Brantly, among others, it featured ten new songs including “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Cool It Now”, both of which were smash hits. Other titles include “I’m Leaving You Again”, “Hide and Seek”, “Kinds of Girls We Like”, “My Secret (Didja Gitit Yet?)”, and “Baby Love.”
A huge success, the album ended up reaching number one on the Billboard R&B Albums chart, where it stayed for five weeks. Not only that but it also peaked at number six on the Billboard 200 and charted in Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland.
To promote the album, they also went on the Cool It Now Tour, which ran from 1984 to 1985. While performing, however, the boys realized that they weren’t signed to MCA records but with a production company called Jump and Shoot, which had its own contract with MCA. Wanting to get themselves out of the stifling deal, the members borrowed money from MCA, which effectively separated them from the production company. It also allowed them to sign a record deal with MCA records directly. To pay off their debt, they ended up touring and recording continuously during this period.
Later in 1985, they released their third album All For Love. While it wasn’t as successful as their previous albums per se, it was still a huge hit. Not only did it chart at number three on the Billboard R&B Albums chart but it also spawned three new hits- “With You All the Way”, “A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes)” and “Count Me Out”, all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
By the end of the year, their growing popularity had landed them guest roles in the 1985 comedy-drama film Krush Groove, where they sang the song “My Secret”. They also released a holiday EP titled, Christmas All Over the World, which included songs such as “All I Want for Christmas (Is MY Girl)”, “The Joy of Christmas”, “Give Love on Christmas Day”, and “Singing Merry Christmas.”
Bobby Brown’s Departure From the Group
Around that time, there were rumors that Brown was dissatisfied with the direction of the group. Under pressure from MCA, the rest of the boys eventually voted him out in December 1985 (Brown would go on to embark on a successful solo career).
The following November, the band released their fourth album, Under the Blue Moon, which featured covers of 50’s classics such as “A Million to One”, “Since I Don’t Have You”, “Blue Moon” A Thousand Miles Away”, “Tears On My Pillow”, and “What’s Your Name?”. It also included a rendition of “Earth Angel”, which was used in the 1986 martial arts drama film The Karate Kid Part II.
Thanks to the airplay that the song received, the album eventually went gold. It also reached number 18 on the R&B chart and number 43 on the Billboard 200.
Johnny Gill Joins the Band
While they continued to record music, the band’s future became uncertain after it was rumored that Ralph Tesvant wanted to leave the group to pursue a solo career. Wanting to prevent his departure, they invited Johnny Gill, a friend of the boys who’d been performing as a solo artist with little luck, into the band in 1987. A Washington, D.C. native, Gill is the only member who’s not from Boston. Despite that, he fell right into place.
In June 1988, New Edition released its fifth album, Heart Break. The first album to feature Johnny Gill, it came with 12 titles including “Can You Stand the Rain”, “Where It All Started”, “That’s the Way We’re Livin'”, “Boys to Men”, and “I’m Comin’ Home”, many of which featured Tresvant on lead vocals.
Another big hit, it peaked at number three on the R&B Albums Chart and at number twelve on the Billboard 200. By September 1988, it had sold more than one million copies in the US, earning it platinum certification from the RIAA. The fact that they promoted it with a concert tour probably helped as well.
Hiatus and Reunion
Inspired by Bobby Brown’s success as a solo artist, the group went on hiatus in the early ’90s to pursue side projects. In the end, it wasn’t until 1996 that they reunited to record their sixth album, Home Again. Their first album in eight years, it’s also the only album to feature all six members including Brown who’s left the group previously.
The album, which was highly anticipated by fans, came with thirteen songs including “One More Day”, “Oh, Yeah, It Feels So Good”, “How Do You Like Your Love Served”, “Hear Me Out”, “Tighten It Up”, and “Shop Around.” A massive hit, it entered the Billboard 200 at number one, with more than 441,000 sales within the first week. Not only that but it also topped the Billboard R&B Chart as well as the Irish Albums Chart, making it their first album in more than a decade to do so.
To promote the project, the band also embarked on the Home Again Tour. Unlike their previous tours, however, it proved to be disastrous; old rivalries for stage dominance resurfaced despite them not having performed together in nearly a decade, which led Brown and Bivins to quit the group mid-tour. This led Gill, Bell, and DeVoe to finish the rest of the tour dates as a quartet.
Following the tour, they resumed their individual projects. Gill formed an R&B group called LSG with Keith Sweat and Gerald Levert while the other members made guest appearances in the movie The Preacher’s Wife and on the ABC sitcom Family Matters.
They eventually released their seventh (and most recent) album, One Love, through Bad Boy Records (they had fought to get out of their contract with MCA Records) in November 2004. They had initially wanted to release it earlier but had struggled with Bad Boy CEO Sean Combs, over creative control.
The album, which was praised as being “focused and mature”, came with seventeen new tracks including “Start Turnin’ Me On, One Love Interlude”, “Come Home With Me”, “Re-Write the Memories”, and “Been So Long”. It also gave rise to the single “Hot 2Nite”, which only reached number 35 on the R&B singles chart.
Thanks to early buzz and hype over the project, the album entered the Billboard 200 at number twelve. It also reached number five on the Top Hip-Hop Albums chart. Still, the public response to the album was underwhelming, especially compared to their earlier projects. As a result, its production was ultimately halted. Angered by how things were handled, the band eventually parted ways with Bad Boy Records.
What’s New Edition Doing Now In 2023?
Since then, the group has reunited several times on the stage. In 2011, they hit the road for their 30th Anniversary Tour. Then three years later, they embarked on the All Six Tour, which featured all six members of the band.
They also received their own three-episode miniseries called The New Edition Story, which was released in January 2017. That same year, they received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their contributions to music.
Fast forward to 2021 and it was announced that they would be doing a Las Vegas Residency. They also announced a new Culture Tour, which would run from February 2022 to April 2022.
And later this year, they will be hitting the roads again for the 2023 Legacy Tour.
What Happened to Ricky Bell?
In 2017, Bell and the rest of Bell Biv DeVoe released their fourth studio album, Three Stripes. Their first project since 2001, it gave rise to several songs including “Ready”, “Find a Way”, “All Day There”, and “Hot Damn.”
It was also revealed in the 2017 The New Edition Story miniseries that he has struggled with substance abuse for many decades, since the mid-90s. At one point, he nearly lost his life but was saved at the hospital. This prompted him to enter rehab. Since then, he has maintained sobriety.
What Happened to Michael Bivins?
Michael Bivins was recently appointed the creative director of the Harlem Festival of Culture. The music festival, which will be making its debut in 2023, will feature music concerts (indoor and outdoor), moderated discussions, influencer dinners, as well as film screenings. As the creative director, Bivins will oversee strategic initiatives to help build the brand long-term.
What Happened to Bobby Brown?
Bobby Brown recently competed in the fifth season of The Masked Singer, where he performed as the “crab”. At one point during a performance, he had to be taken to the dressing room after having become overheated in the costume. He was later eliminated during the seventh week.
Last May, he also starred in the documentary-style reality series Biography: Bobby Brown: Every Little Step, which aired on A&E.
What Happened to Ronnie DeVoe?
In 2018, DeVoe guest starred in Bravo’s reality series The Real Housewives of Atlanta. His wife Shamari later became a regular cast member in the eleventh season.
When he isn’t performing and recording with his bands (both New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe), he works at his real estate agency, Devoe Broker Associates, in Atlanta, Georgia.
What Happened to Johnny Gill?
Gill released his eighth solo album Game Changer II in July 2019. A sequel to his 2014 album, it reached number 15 on the Independent Albums Chart. Some songs from the album include “Bed On Fire”, “Favorite Girl”, “Behind Closed Doors”, “That’s My Baby”, “So Hard”, and “Soul of a Woman.” By the end of the year, the album had earned him a SoulTrack Readers’ Choice Award.
What Happened to Ralph Tresvant?
When he isn’t recording or performing music, Tresvant is a radio DJ on Boston’s WZBR 1410AM. His radio show, Inside the Ride with Ralph Tresvant, premiered in September 2016.