Bobby Brown at 1989 MTV Awards
|Birth name||Robert Barisford Brown|
February 5, 1969 |
Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Genres||R&B, soul, pop, hip hop, dance, dance-pop, new jack swing|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, rapper, dancer, actor|
|Labels||MCA, Bronx Bridge Entertainment|
|Associated acts||New Edition, Heads of State, Whitney Houston, Damian Marley, Ja Rule BabyFace|
Brown started his career as one of the frontmen of the R&B/pop group New Edition, from its inception as The Bricks in 1982 until his forced exit from the group in 1986 following a period of misbehavior on his part. Starting a solo career, he became a hit success with his second album in 1988, Don't Be Cruel, which spawned a number of hit singles including the co-self penned "My Prerogative", which became his signature hit. Brown had a string of top ten hits on various Billboard charts between 1986 and 1993 and is a recipient of a Grammy Award. Brown is noted as a pioneer of new jack swing, a fusion of R&B and hip hop. Brown has also won American Music Awards and Soul Train Awards.
Brown was most noted in recent years as the ex-husband of late pop singer Whitney Houston. Brown and Houston later gained notoriety co-starring in the reality show Being Bobby Brown. He has a daughter named Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown with her.
Brown was born in Boston as one of eight children to Herbert "Pops" and Carole Brown. Herbert was a construction worker and Carole was a schoolteacher. Brown and his family grew up in Roxbury's Orchard Park Projects. As a child, Brown got involved in petty theft including robbery later saying "I didn't wanna ask my mother or my father because they didn't have a lot of money", stating that whenever he saw something he wanted, "I'd just go to the store and take it." Brown also grew up around gangs. At ten, he was shot in the knee during a fight with a rival gang while attending a block party. Brown said his life reached a turning point at eleven after seeing one of his friends dead from multiple stab wounds at another party. Brown's brother Tommy would later say after that moment, Brown took "his career, schooling, his whole life more seriously." Brown's first taste of being onstage occurred at the age of three when one of his childhood idols, James Brown, performed in Boston. This performance had sparked a dream of becoming a singer. Brown joined the church choir, where he recognized his own singing abilities.
New Edition was originally started by nine-year-old Brown and childhood friends Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Travis Pettus & Corey Rackley who all knew each other growing up in the Orchard Park Projects in Boston. Rackley however 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 kids. 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 areas in 1982, they won a deal with Maurice Starr's label and released their debut album, Candy Girl. The title track became an instant million-seller in which Brown sung co-lead alongside Bell and Tresvant. Brown's first full lead vocal performance was on the New Edition ballad, "Jealous Girl", which was a minor hit when it charted in 1983. The group became pop sensations with their self-titled sophomore release. The album included the crossover hits "Cool It Now" and "Mr. Telephone Man", which Brown also co-led.
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, performing seductively and singing, which caused hiccups from the group's management team. Brown was featured on two more New Edition albums before leaving the group in early 1986. 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." A little controversy arose over how Brown got kicked out. 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 some of the members, most prominently Tresvant, against the decision.
Following his exit, 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 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 didn't do well.
Brown laid low for more than a year working on his follow-up album. With the help of Machat and an MCA representative, Louil Silas, Brown began working with some of the top R&B producers and songwriters including Babyface, Antonio "L.A." Reid and Teddy Riley. The producers helped to compose what became Brown's most successful solo album to date, 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 eventually would reach twelve million copies worldwide making it the best-selling album of 1989.
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 ventured on a 120-day world tour to promote the Don't Be Cruel project in 1988. The tour became a success with Brown's former group New Edition sometimes opening for him. The tour lasted into spring 1991 but not without Brown gaining notoriety for simulating sexual acts onstage, which got him in trouble with the law. In 1990 Bobby performed Tap Into My Heart at the 1990 MTV Awards and Brown was supposed to release the album Mystical Magic but it was shelved for unknown reasons and never saw the light of day. Brown stayed busy and in 1991 he collaborated with New Edition member and friend Ralph Tresvant in the song "Stone Cold Gentleman" which was a top 5 R&B hit and also hop on the remix to Babyface song "Tender Lover" that same year.
Brown's next album, Bobby wouldn't arrive until 1992. Released during the final days of the new jack swing era, an era that Brown had dominated, the album did become a success, selling more than 2 million copies and spawning several hits including "Humpin' Around", "Get Away" and "Good Enough". However the sales of Bobby didn't match its predecessor. Some of that may have to do with Brown deciding not to continue his career as he was now married to his famous wife, Whitney Houston, who with Brown, contributed a UK hit with their duet, "Something in Common", from the Bobby album. Brown would release his fourth solo album, Forever, in 1997. Due to lack of promotion and Brown's desire to write and produce most of the tracks, the album tanked and the album's only single, "Feeling Inside", was not successful.
Prior to 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, re-emerging in 2002 when he was featured in a duet with rapper Ja Rule on the song "Thug Lovin'". Brown was signed to Murder Inc. Records, but Murder Inc. began dissolving 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" off Gray's The Sellout. Gray explained to Essence about the project, saying "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."
On June 5, 2012, Brown released his fifth album, The Masterpiece. The album debuted at #41 on the R&B album chart.
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, the six 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 2014, Brown and New Edition continue to perform together.
Bobby Brown's musical influences spark from artists such as Rick James, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and Prince. Brown can be heard emulating grunts and "Ow's" made popular by James Brown as well as Michael Jackson.
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 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 show lasted one season but received bad reviews in the duration of its run, leading to a fallout in both singers' careers. The show ended in 2006 after Houston refused to appear in a second season of the show. 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. Brown's later tenures in reality shows included appearances on Real Husbands of Hollywood, Celebrity Fit Club and Gone Country.
Family and relationships
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In 1986, Brown became a father at 17 when one of his girlfriends gave birth to his first son, Landon. In 1989, he began a relationship with Kim Ward, with whom he would later have two children: LaPrincia (b. 1990) and Robert Barisford Brown, Jr. (b. 1992). Brown and Ward's relationship ended in late 1991.
Brown wrote in his memoirs that he was pursued by several female entertainers including Madonna. Brown also claimed that he and singer Janet Jackson had a brief affair during Jackson's separation from Rene Elizondo in 1989. Brown later said he felt that Jackson's family would not approve of her dating him due to his reputation in the media and that Jackson's manager kept the news of their affair hidden from the public. Brown said Jackson broke up with him and noted it was the first time he had been dumped by someone else, stating the separation caused Brown's addiction to alcohol to grow.
Brown first met future wife Whitney Houston while both attended the Soul Train Music Awards in 1989. Brown and Houston's friendship grew after Brown attended Houston's birthday party later that same year. By late 1991, their friendship had developed into a romance after Brown's relationship with Ward ended. Brown later proposed marriage in April 1992 and the couple married on July 18 of the same year outside Houston's New Jersey residence. On March 4, 1993, their only child together, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, was born.
Brown and Houston's marriage was tempered by rumors of Brown's infidelity and the couple's frequent drug use, which was often the subject of jokes at their expense especially on sketch shows, Saturday Night Live and, much more frequently, MadTV, in which they were spoofed by actors Debra Wilson and Aries Spears. Spears' depiction of Brown was that of a jealous, verbally abusive, philandering cocaine-addicted drunk who bristled at his wife's more iconic popularity. Following fourteen years of marriage, Brown and Houston filed for legal separation in September 2006. Their divorce was finalized on April 24, 2007, with Houston receiving custody of their then-14-year-old daughter. On May 30, 2009, Brown had son Cassius with his partner of two years, manager Alicia Etheridge. Brown and Etheridge became engaged in May 2010, when Brown proposed during a performance at the Funk Fest in Jacksonville, Florida. The couple married in June 2012 in Hawaii. Brown's eldest son Landon is currently pursuing a career in music while daughter LaPrincia and son Bobby Jr. are attending college, Krissy is currently pursuing a career in acting.
In 1996, Brown was involved in a drive-by shooting in Boston while with his brother-in-law, after they attempted to hold a sit-down between two gangs for peace. His brother-in-law died from gunshot wounds from intruders at a hospital afterwards, Brown narrowly escaped being shot. When police found Brown, he appeared to have been uninjured but was shaken and distraught. Due to the incident, Brown said his sister "blamed him for it" and it ruined their relationship. Brown's parents Carole and Herbert Brown died within a year of each other, Carole Brown dying in 2011 and Herbert "Pops" Brown dying in January 2012.
Following the death of his ex-wife Houston in February 2012, which was six days after Brown's 43rd Birthday, Brown struggled to perform at a New Edition show the night of Houston's death, shouting, "I love you, Whitney", while in tears. Brown then excused himself from the stage and New Edition canceled the remainder of the show. Brown was invited to appear at Houston's memorial service in New Jersey but left before the service began. In an interview given to The Today Show in May 2012, Brown said security was the reason why he and his family left Houston's service with Brown stating 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. Brown lives in an Atlanta area suburb, Johns Creek, Georgia. Bobby has one granddaughter Nilaan by son Landon.
Mental illness, substance abuse and legal problems
As a child, Brown was diagnosed with ADD and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his early thirties. Brown said that his drug of choice was marijuana and that he had developed alcoholism at an early age. Following his marriage to Houston, Brown became heavily involved in drug use. By the mid-1990s, he was not only addicted to cocaine and crack, but also heroin, which he often smoked along with marijuana. He and Houston would often smoke cocaine-laced weed in blunts. Following his separation and later divorce from Houston, Brown stopped using cocaine, crack and heroin though he admitted he still drinks but not as much as he did in his younger years.
During his tours, Brown would often be arrested and cited for lewd and lascivious content after simulating sex acts with random female audience members that he would bring onstage. Brown's legal problems however grew serious as he would be often arrested for several offenses over the years including drug possession, driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated. In a now-infamous 1996 arrest while in Florida, during a high-speed police chase, he crashed what was his wife's Mitsubishi, and would be later cited for resisting arrest after he yelled expletives at officers and allegedly performing public urination in the back of one of the squad cars.
In late 2003, Brown was arrested for misdemeanor battery, allegedly for striking Houston while shouting epithets. 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 prison for missing three months of child support payments. That sentence was immediately suspended after Brown made back payments totaling about $15,000.
On March 26, 2012, Brown was arrested for DUI after being pulled over for allegedly using a cell phone while driving.
On August 14, 2012, Brown was undergoing treatment in rehab for alcohol addiction.
On October 24, 2012, Bobby Brown was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol for the second time this year.
On February 26, 2013, Bobby Brown plead no contest to suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was sentenced to a 55 day jail sentence and had until March 20, 2013 to report to Los Angeles County Jail. He was also ordered to attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week until he goes to jail and to complete an 18-month alcohol program as part of his probation.
On March 21, 2013, Bobby Brown was released from jail after serving nine hours of his 55 day jail sentence.
- Heartbreak Tour (with Al B. Sure! & New Edition) (1988)
- Don't Be Cruel Tour (1989)
- Humpin' Around World Tour (1992-93)
- New Edition Reunion Tour (1996)
|1989||Ghostbusters II||Mayor's Doorman|
|1990||Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme||Three Blind Mice|
|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|
- Hilburn, Robert (September 27, 1992). "How Cruel Can Fame Be, Bobby Brown?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
- Essence magazine
- Hillary Crosley. "Macy Gray on 'The Sellout' and Finding Bobby Brown".
- "Artist Influences for Bobby Brown". MTV.com. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
- "BROWN'S 24 HOURS OF ANGER – 3am & Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- Speidel, Maria (March 22, 1993). "Passages". People. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- Silverman, Stephen M. (2006-11-18). "Whitney Houston Files for Divorce". People. Time, Inc. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "Houston wins custody of daughter". BBC News. April 5, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- "Bobby Brown Welcomes Son Cassius". People. Jun 4, 2009.
- "Bobby Brown Gets Engaged – On Stage!". People. May 9, 2010.
- Bobby Brown sets wedding date
- Fisher, Kelly (June 19, 2012). "Bobby Brown Married: Alicia Etheridge, Singer Wed In Hawaii". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
- "Bobby Brown Says 'I Love You, Whitney' During Emotional Concert". Billboard. February 12, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- "Bobby Brown Speaks Out on Whitney Houston's Funeral in 'Today' Interview". The Hollywood Reporter. May 1, 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- Kaufman, Gil (2009-09-15). "Whitney Houston Tells Oprah Bobby Brown Was Her 'Drug' – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- Bobby Brown Turns Himself In – News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News
- "Judge orders Bobby Brown arrested". USA Today. October 2, 2006. Retrieved October 2, 2006.
- "Bobby Brown Is Back in Rehab, Wife Alicia Etheredge Says". US Weekly. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- "Bobby Brown Arrested in Los Angeles; DUI Suspicion". The New York Times. October 24, 2012.
- "Bobby Brown slapped with 55-day jail sentence on drunk-driving rap". New York Daily News. February 26, 2013.
- "Bobby Brown out of jail in hours". CNN. March 21, 2013.
- Bobby Brown Online
- Bobby Brown at the Internet Movie Database
- NEW Bobby Brown HD interview April 2010