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Hall of Fame: Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown was an original member of New Edition. In early 1986 at a show New Edition was performing in Oakland, Bobby decided he didn’t want to be a bugglegum pop singer anymore, and walked offstage after a disagreement with New Edition group member Michael Bivins flared brightly mid-performance. After the show was over, Bobby reemerged by himself and rocked the crowd on his own for several more minutes – at that moment, Bobby knew he was destined for solo success.

By late 1986, Bobby’s debut album King Of Stage was released on MCA records featuring the hits “Girlfriend” and “Girl Next Door,” which were both successful among urban audiences. By 1988 however, MCA had teamed Bobby up with producers Teddy Riley, and LA & Babyface, and the resulting album Don’t Be Cruel would bring New Jack Swing music to the masses for the first time.

Scoring six top ten singles between 1988 and 1989 (“Don’t Be Cruel,” “My Prerogative,” “Roni,” “Every Little Step,” “Rock Witcha,” and “On Our Own”), Bobby Brown quickly became a bona fide superstar. What is most notable about Bobby Brown was that every single he released went top ten during the New Jack era, with “My Prerogative” becoming the second biggest #1 hit record of 1989. For the next two years, Bobby Brown generated excitement everywhere he went. Bobby’s 1990 performances at the American Music Awards and Soul Train Music Awards were easily the best at both ceremonies. Bobby Brown also helped Glenn Medeiros score a #1 single with “She Ain’t Worth It,” as well as appearing on Babyface’s “Tender Lover” single remix. In September 1990, Bobby regrouped onstage with New Edition for a reunion performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and also appeared briefly in BBD’s "I Thought It Was Me" video, adding star power to the group.

In 1991, Bobby made his last guest appearance on Ralph Tresvant’s “Stone Cold Gentleman” before returning to the studio to record his follow-up to Don’t Be Cruel, 1992’s Bobby. It was around this time that Bobby Brown started getting serious about his relationship to fellow pop/R&B star Whitney Houston. By the time 1992 rolled around, the New Jack Swing era was over, which undoubtedly hindered the success of the Bobby album, considered a commercial disappointment when compared to Bobby’s previous chart performance during the New Jack era. Bobby married Whitney in the summer of 1992.

While the Bobby album had three hits: “Humpin Around,” “Good Enough,” and “Get Away,” these songs weren’t as memorable as “Every Little Step” and “My Prerogative.” To make matters worse, Bobby had lost the majority of his suburban audience when they decided to turn their attention to acts like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. By 1993’s end, Bobby Brown wouldn’t be seen in performance until the New Edition Home Again reunion campaign three years later.

In 1997, Bobby Brown released his final album to date, Forever - which notably featured no production by L.A. & Babyface or Teddy Riley. It was around this time that Bobby's personal life truly began to overshadow his career in music. 

In 2005, Bobby Brown returned to the spotlight via the Bravo Network TV Show, "Being Bobby Brown" - a reality program that followed Bobby and his family through daily life. In late 2007, Bobby Brown returned to the stage as part of the New Jack/Ladies Night Out Tour, a production that NJS4E helped to promote.

In 2008, Bobby was a featured celebrity on the reality show, "Gone Country." It was also this year that NJS4E interviewed Bobby Brown after his concert performance in Chicago, IL. The interview can be viewed on this page (below).

Although Bobby Brown experienced his commercial peak during the New Jack era, his impact on R&B since then cannot be denied. Bobby Brown remains one of the most commercially successful Black male artists of all time since Michael Jackson; he has influenced artists such as Usher, Sisqo, Tyrese, Ginuwine, R.Kelly, and countless others. Bobby Brown is truly a legendary figure in New Jack Swing history.



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