Bobby Brown

Last updated
Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown on Sister Circle Live.jpg
Brown interviewed on Sister Circle Live in 2018
Born
Robert Barisford Brown

(1969-02-05) February 5, 1969 (age 50)
NationalityAmerican
Other names
  • Triple B.
  • Flash B.
Occupation
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • rapper
  • dancer
  • actor
Years active1978–present
Television Being Bobby Brown
Spouse(s)
Children6; including Bobbi Kristina Brown
Musical career
Genres
Labels
Associated acts

Robert Barisford Brown (born February 5, 1969) [1] is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer and actor. Brown started his career in the R&B and pop group New Edition, from its inception in 1978 until his exit from the group in 1985. Starting a solo career, he enjoyed success with his second album in 1988, Don't Be Cruel , which spawned a number of hit singles including the self-penned "My Prerogative", and the Grammy Award–winning "Every Little Step". Brown had a string of top ten hits on various Billboard charts between 1986 and 1993. Brown, alongside frequent collaborator Teddy Riley, is noted as a pioneer of new jack swing; a fusion of hip-hop and R&B. His other hits include, "Don't Be Cruel", "Roni", "Rock Wit'cha", "On Our Own", "Humpin' Around", "She Ain't Worth It" and "Something in Common".

New Edition American boy band

New Edition is an American R&B group from the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, formed in 1978. The group reached its height of popularity in the 1980s. During the group's first experience with fame in 1983, its members were Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. Early hits included "Candy Girl," "Cool It Now," and "Mr. Telephone Man". Tresvant was the lead singer on most of the songs. Brown was voted out of the group in 1985 and embarked on a solo career. The group continued for a time with its remaining four members, but eventually recruited singer Johnny Gill, who would be introduced on their 1988 album Heart Break. The group went on hiatus in 1990, while its various members worked on side projects, such as the group Bell Biv DeVoe. Gill and Tresvant also recorded successful solo albums.

<i>Dont Be Cruel</i> (album) 1988 studio album by Bobby Brown

Don't Be Cruel is the second studio album by American singer Bobby Brown. It was released in the United States on June 20, 1988 by MCA Records.

My Prerogative single

"My Prerogative" is a song by American singer Bobby Brown from his second studio album Don't Be Cruel (1988). Melodically similar to 'Remote Control' by The Reddings, it was released on October 11, 1988 as the second single from the album. After recording sessions for the album were completed, Brown and producer Gene Griffin traveled to New York City, since he felt something was "missing" from the record. "My Prerogative" was written by Brown as a response to the criticism he received for his departure from New Edition. He explained the song was about making decisions in one's life and not caring about other people's judgment. "My Prerogative" is often considered a new jack swing anthem, produced by Teddy Riley.

Contents

He also starred in films such as A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Two Can Play That Game . He returned to New Edition for a reunion album and tour from 1996 to 1997, and returned with all six members for another stint in 2005.

<i>A Thin Line Between Love and Hate</i> 1996 film by Martin Lawrence

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate is a 1996 American dark comedy-romance film directed and co-written by Martin Lawrence, who also stars in the film. Lawrence co-wrote the screenplay alongside Kenny Buford and Bentley Kyle Evans, who has also written for Lawrence's hit television sitcom, Martin, and Kim Bass. In addition to Lawrence, the film's cast includes Lynn Whitfield, Regina King, Bobby Brown, and Della Reese. The film tells the story of Darnell Wright, a ladies' man who finds himself targeted by one of his obsessed lovers.

In 1992, Brown married singer Whitney Houston, with whom he had a daughter named Bobbi Kristina Brown.The couple starred in the 2005 reality show Being Bobby Brown . In 2007 their marriage ended in divorce.

Whitney Houston American singer, actress, model, and record producer

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide. Houston released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her crossover appeal on the popular music charts—as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for "How Will I Know"—influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.

Bobbi Kristina Brown American television personality

Bobbi Kristina Brown was an American reality television personality, media personality, and singer. She was the daughter of singers Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. Her parents' fame kept Bobbi Kristina in the public eye, including her appearances on the reality show Being Bobby Brown. Brown was 14 when her parents divorced and Houston gained custody. When Houston died in February 2012, Brown was the sole beneficiary of her mother's estate.

Being Bobby Brown is an American reality television series that debuted on Bravo on June 30, 2005.

Early life

Brown was born in Boston, Massachusetts, [1] as one of eight children of Carole Elizabeth (born Williams), a substitute teacher, and Herbert James Brown, a construction worker. [2] [3] Brown grew up in Roxbury's Orchard Park Projects. [4] [5] [6] Brown's first taste of being onstage occurred when he was three and one of his childhood idols, James Brown, performed in Boston. This performance sparked a dream of becoming a singer. Brown joined the church choir, where he recognized and developed his singing abilities.

Orchard Park, also known as "Home of New Edition," was one of Boston's most notorious housing projects, located in Roxbury, Massachusetts. It is also the former home of singer Bobby Brown and New Edition members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ralph Tresvant. The 350-unit three-story brick complex was built in 1941 and was demolished in 1998 due to crime problems.

James Brown American singer, songwriter, producer and bandleader from South Carolina

James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th-century music and dance, he is often referred to as the "Godfather of Soul". In a career that lasted over 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres.

Music career

New Edition

New Edition was founded by 9-year-old Brown and childhood friends Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Travis Pettus and Corey Rackley who all knew each other growing up in the Orchard Park Projects in Boston. However, Rackley left the group early and good friend Ralph Tresvant joined the group at the suggestion of Bell who sang with Tresvant as a duo. Brown was also familiar with Tresvant since they were children. Travis Pettus would also leave the group and they became a quartet of Bell, Tresvant, Bivins, and Brown. In 1982, they became a quintet when their manager Brooke Payne insisted on bringing in his nephew Ronnie DeVoe, to complete the group. After performing in several talent shows in the Boston area in 1982, they signed a deal with fellow Bostonian Arthur Baker's Streetwise Records, who released their debut album Candy Girl . The title track, on which Brown sang co-lead alongside Bell and Tresvant, was a top-20 hit on Billboard's R&B Singles Chart in 1983. Brown's first full lead vocal performance was on the New Edition ballad "Jealous Girl," which was a minor hit when it also charted in 1983. The group became pop sensations with their self-titled second release. The album included the crossover hits "Cool It Now" and "Mr. Telephone Man," which Brown also co-led.

Michael Bivins American musician

Michael Lamont Bivins is an American singer, rapper, manager and producer, and a founding member of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe.

Ralph Tresvant American singer

Ralph Edward Tresvant, also known as Rizz and Rizzo, is an American singer, songwriter, actor and record producer, best known as the lead singer of R&B group New Edition. As a solo artist, Tresvant released the album Ralph Tresvant (1990). In 2008, he began touring with Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill in a new group named Heads of State.

Ronnie DeVoe American musician

Ronald Boyd "Ronnie" DeVoe Jr., also known as R.D., Ronnie D., Ron and Big Ron, is one of the members of the R&B/pop group New Edition, and the R&B/hip hop group Bell Biv DeVoe. He was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Despite the group's success, however, Brown felt the group was never rightfully paid the money they felt they had earned from their success, later saying, "The most I saw from all the tours and all of the records we sold was $500 and a VCR." Brown also allegedly grew jealous of the attention given to fellow New Edition member Ralph Tresvant, and during some of their tour performances would often step out of his position and perform out of turn, singing and performing seductively, which caused concern within the group's management team. Brown was featured on two more New Edition albums before leaving the group in early 1986. [7] Brown later said he felt that the group's management treated them "like little slaves by people who were only interested in money and power, and not in the welfare of New Edition." Some controversy arose over the way Brown was removed from the group. Some say Brown asked to be let out of New Edition, but a VH-1 Behind the Music documentary on the group claimed Brown was voted out by the group via their management team, with the members—most prominently Tresvant—against the decision.

<i>Behind the Music</i> television series

Behind the Music is a documentary television series on VH1. Each episode profiles and interviews a popular musical artist or group. The program examines the beginning of their career, their road to success and the hardships they may have encountered.

Solo career

Following his exit from New Edition, Brown signed a contract with his former group's label, MCA (which had earlier promised Brown a solo deal if he had decided to leave New Edition), and also signed with manager Steven Machat, who had also worked with New Edition. The label released his debut album King of Stage in 1986. Brown had a number-one R&B hit with the ballad "Girlfriend," but the album otherwise failed to perform well.

Brown laid low for more than a year while working on his follow-up album. With the help of Machat and MCA representative Louil Silas, Brown began working with some of the top R&B producers and songwriters of the time, including Babyface, Antonio "L.A." Reid and Teddy Riley. The producers helped to compose what became Brown's most successful solo album of his career, Don't Be Cruel . Released in 1988, the album launched five top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 , including the number-one single, the self-penned "My Prerogative", which became, along with "Every Little Step" and the title track, signature hits for the performer. After topping both the pop and R&B charts, album sales would eventually reach twelve million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling album of 1989. In February 1990 he won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the album's fourth single "Every Little Step." Don't Be Cruel also garnered Brown two American Music Awards, a Soul Train Music Award and a People's Choice Award.

In 1989, Brown contributed two songs to the soundtrack of Ghostbusters II , and he also had a cameo role in the film. Leading off the soundtrack album, "On Our Own" became another top-ten single for the singer, peaking at number two. The same year, a remix compilation, Dance!...Ya Know It! , was released, and found fans in the United Kingdom, where Brown had a fan base and had major success. Brown embarked on a 120-day world tour to promote the Don't Be Cruel project in 1988. The tour was a success, with Al B. Sure! opening for him, and New Edition also opening for him on some dates. The tour lasted into the spring of 1991, but not without Brown gaining notoriety for simulating sexual acts onstage, which got him into trouble with local law enforcement. In 1990, Bobby performed "Tap into My Heart" at the 1990 MTV Awards, and Brown was set to release the album Mystical Magic, but it was shelved for reasons unknown, and never saw the light of day. In 1990, Brown was featured on the number-one hit "She Ain't Worth It" by Glenn Medeiros, making it his second number 1 hit on the pop chart, and also collaborated with Babyface for the remix of the latter's single "Tender Lover" that same year. Brown stayed busy and, in 1991, he collaborated with New Edition member and friend Ralph Tresvant on the latter's single "Stone Cold Gentleman", which was a top-five R&B hit.

Brown's next album Bobby wouldn't arrive until 1992. Despite its release during the final days of the New Jack Swing era—one that Brown had dominated—the album did become a success, selling more than 3 million copies, and spawning several hit singles including "Humpin' Around", "Get Away," and "Good Enough". He received his second Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance nomination for "Humpin' Around." He received his third American Music Award in January 1993. However, sales of Bobby did not match its predecessor. Some surmise that this may have been due to Brown's recent marriage to Whitney Houston, and his decision to take a break from the business for reasons involving his marriage and impending new-fatherhood. In any case, he and Houston had recorded a song together, "Something in Common," which was released as a single from the Bobby album. Four years later he would release his fourth solo album Forever , in 1997. Due to lack of promotion and Brown's desire to break from previous success patterns and write and produce most of the tracks, the album tanked, and the album's only single, "Feeling Inside", was not successful.

Prior to the release of Forever, Brown had been in negotiations with rapper Tupac Shakur to sign with Shakur's new label Makaveli Records, or with the proposed label Death Row East. However, Shakur died before that could take place. Leaving MCA following Forever, Brown laid low for several years, appearing as a featured artist in 2001 on two tracks from The Benzino Project , and in 2002 he was featured in a duet with rapper Ja Rule on the song "Thug Lovin'." Brown was signed to Murder Inc. Records, but that label had already begun to dissolve, so Brown's tenure with them was brief. In 2006 Brown appeared adding vocals to Damian Marley's song "Beautiful" on Marley's album, Welcome to Jamrock . In 2010 Brown was featured in a duet with singer Macy Gray on the song "Real Love" on Gray's album The Sellout . About this project, Gray explained to Essence , [8] "Actually, he came to the studio, since he doesn't live far, and knocked out his recording in two hours. We're friends, and his one-year-old son is my godson. His fiancée is one of my best friends in the whole world. I met Bobby a long time ago, but we really got to know each other through her." [9]

On June 5, 2012, Brown released his fifth album, The Masterpiece , which debuted at number 41 on the R&B album chart.

On February 14, 2017, Brown performed at the Valentine's Day Music Festival with Keith Sweat, Avant and El DeBarge. [10]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Bobby Brown among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [11]

New Edition reunions

Brown made his first reunited appearance with New Edition at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. Their performance later sparked the recording of Bell Biv DeVoe's "Word to the Mutha!" in 1991; on which Brown, Ralph Tresvant and later NE member Johnny Gill were included. A full-fledged reunion occurred with the 1996 release of the album, Home Again . Brown contributed lead vocals on two hit singles, "Hit Me Off" and "You Don't Have to Worry". However, a subsequent 1997 tour to support the album led to problems between Brown and the other New Edition members. Brown later admitted that he was struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism during the tour.

In 2005, at the BET 25th anniversary special, Brown again reunited with New Edition to a receptive audience. In 2008, Brown, Ralph Tresvant, and Johnny Gill then formed a splinter group, Heads of State, to compete with Bell Biv DeVoe. At the 2009 BET Awards, following the death of the group's idol Michael Jackson, all six of the New Edition members again reunited to perform a medley of Jackson 5 hits in honor of Jackson. This sparked rumors of another full-fledged New Edition reunion, which was confirmed the following year. As of 2016, Brown and New Edition continue to perform together.

Influences

Bobby Brown's musical influences spark from artists such as Rick James, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and Prince. [12] Brown can be heard emulating grunts and "Ow's" made popular by James Brown as well as Prince.

Film and television career

Brown made his acting debut with a cameo appearance in the 1989 film, Ghostbusters II , playing the Mayor's doorman. The following year, he appeared in the HBO kids show, Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme playing all three characters of Three Blind Mice. In 1995, he made another guest appearance in the film, Panther , and had a major role in the Martin Lawrence film, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate . Brown made other guest appearances in the films, Two Can Play That Game , Gang of Roses , Nora's Hair Salon and Go for Broke.

In 2005, Brown signed a deal with Bravo to overlook the direction of the reality series, Being Bobby Brown , but it was said[ by whom? ] that he had to convince producers that his then-wife Whitney Houston would appear on the show. Houston later told Oprah Winfrey that she agreed to do it because she "loved him" and "did whatever he asked because I was his wife." The Hollywood Reporter said that the show was "undoubtedly the most disgusting and execrable series ever to ooze its way onto television". [13] Despite the perceived train-wreck nature of the show, the series gave Bravo its highest ratings in its time slot. [14] The show lasted one season but received bad reviews in the duration of its run, leading to a fallout in both singers' careers; it ended in 2006 after Houston refused to appear in a second season. The couple divorced soon after.

In June 2007, Brown took part in the ITV television series "24 hours with...", a chat show format as celebrity and interviewer spend an intense 24 hours locked in a room together. The show's host, Jamie Campbell, asked Brown questions about his career and private life, and infamously joked about making "sexual moves" towards the singer. Brown was furious and threatened to beat Campbell up live on air. [15] Brown's later tenures in reality shows included appearances on Real Husbands of Hollywood , Celebrity Fit Club and Gone Country .

Personal life

Family and relationships

Brown has fathered seven children. His eldest, Landon, was born circa 1986 [16] to Melika Williams. [17] With girlfriend Kim Ward, whom he met circa 1980, he had daughter La'Princia [18] (born 1989) and son Bobby Jr. (born c. 1992). Brown and Ward's on-and-off 11-year relationship ended in 1991, after two-months-pregnant Ward found out Brown was engaged. [19]

Brown first met Whitney Houston at the Soul Train Music Awards in 1989. They began a close friendship after Houston invited 20-year-old Brown to her 26th birthday party in August 1989. Their friendship developed into a romance in 1991. In April 1992, Brown proposed marriage to Houston and the couple married at Houston's estate on July 18, 1992. On March 4, 1993 their daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was born. [20] Houston and Brown later collaborated on the hit single "Something in Common", which included their daughter at the end of the video.

Throughout their 14-year marriage, Houston and Brown went through periods of infidelity and drug use. Their personal issues became comedy fodder for talk shows and sketch comedy shows, most notably MadTV , where they were satirized as abusive drug addicts. Aries Spears portrayed Brown as a jealous, verbally abusive has-been who openly bristles at his wife's (Debra Wilson) iconic reputation and popularity. On January 11, 2000, airport security guards discovered marijuana in both Brown's and Houston's luggage at a Hawaii airport, but the two boarded the plane and departed before authorities could arrive. Charges were later dropped. [21] In 2005, the couple participated in the reality show Being Bobby Brown , which scrutinized their personal life even more thoroughly. In September 2006, Houston filed for legal separation; the divorce was finalized on April 24, 2007, with Houston receiving custody of their 14-year-old daughter. [22] [23] In a September 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston admitted to using drugs with Brown, stating that Brown had "laced marijuana with rock cocaine". [24] Houston also told Winfrey that Brown had been emotionally abusive during their marriage and had even spat on her on one occasion. [25]

In 1995, Brown was with Steven Sealy when Sealy was targeted in a drive-by shooting. Sealy, Brown's sister's boyfriend, was killed and Brown was unharmed. [26] [27] The shooter, John Tibbs, took a plea agreement in 2001. [28]

On May 31, 2009, Brown had a son Cassius with his partner of two years, manager Alicia Etheredge. [29] Brown and Etheredge became engaged in May 2010, when Brown proposed during a performance at the Funk Fest in Jacksonville, Florida. [30] The couple married in June 2012 in Hawaii and have since added two daughters to their family: [16] Bodhi Jameson Rein Brown on July 9, 2015; [31] and Hendrix Estelle Sheba Brown on July 21, 2016. [32]

Brown's parents, Carole and Herbert Brown, died within a year of each other, Carole in 2011 and Herbert "Pops" in January 2012, a month before his ex-wife Whitney Houston's death. [33] [34]

Following the death of his ex-wife Houston on February 11, 2012, six days after his 43rd birthday, he struggled to perform at a New Edition show, shouting "I love you, Whitney" in tears. [35] Brown then excused himself from the stage and New Edition finished the remainder of the show. Brown was invited to appear at Houston's memorial service in New Jersey but was asked to leave by Houston's family security. In an interview given to The Today Show in May 2012, Brown said security was the reason he and his family left Houston's service; Brown stated that he loved Houston's family and told Matt Lauer that he had spent "14 beautiful years" with Houston as his wife. He also denied rumors that he introduced Houston to narcotics. [36] Along with Clive Davis, Ray J, and others, Brown has been accused of contributing to the singer's death. [37]

In January 2015, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Brown's daughter with Houston, was found unconscious in her bathtub at her residence in Roswell, Georgia. The 21-year-old was rushed into North Fulton Hospital where she was placed on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma to stop the swelling of her brain. It was later reported her brain activity was "low". Brown rushed to his daughter's side and released a statement to the press requesting them to respect the family's privacy. She was later transferred to Emory University Hospital. [38] After doctors concluded that significant brain function was unlikely to occur, Bobbi Kristina was removed from the ventilator and put in the care of Hospice in Duluth, Georgia. She died there on July 26, 2015 at age 22. [39]

As a child, Brown was diagnosed with ADD and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of thirty-two. [40] Brown said that his drug of choice was marijuana and that he had developed alcoholism at an early age. Prior to his marriage to Houston, Brown began using cocaine. [41]

In late 2003, Brown was arrested for misdemeanor battery, allegedly for striking Houston while shouting epithets. [42] In February 2004, Brown was arrested and jailed in Georgia on a parole violation related to a previous drunk driving conviction. In June 2004, Brown was sentenced to 90 days in jail for missing three months of child-support payments. That sentence was immediately suspended after Brown made back payments totaling about $15,000. Brown spent about six days in jail. [43]

Between 2012 and 2013, Brown was arrested for DUIs and underwent treatment in rehab for alcohol abuse. [44] [45] [46] [47] [48]

Discography

Studio albums

with New Edition

Tours

Filmography

YearFilmRole
1984 Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! Himself
1985 Krush Groove Himself
1989 Ghostbusters II Mayor's Doorman
1990 Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme Three Blind Mice

1992

1995 Panther Rose
1996 A Thin Line Between Love and Hate Tee
2001 Two Can Play That Game Michael
2002 Go for Broke Jive
2003 Gang of Roses Left Eye Watkins
2004 Nora's Hair Salon Bennie
2008 Nora's Hair Salon 2: A Cut Above Old Man Butter
2018 The Untitled Action Bronson Show Himself

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