Originally from Deland, Florida, Johnson moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 1970s. As an artist, Johnson was a member of The Johnson Brothers (not to be confused with The Brothers Johnson from Los Angeles, California) and the seminal electro group known as the Jonzun Crew with brothers Michael Jonzun and Soni Jonzun. In 1980, Johnson changed his name to Maurice Starr and recorded two R&B albums, Flaming Starr and Spacey Lady. Unsuccessful as a solo artist, Starr decided to create a band to perform the songs that he wrote.
After losing New Edition, Starr needed a new band to record his songs. In 1984, he created New Kids on the Block, a band consisting of five male teenagers, brothers Jordan Knight and Jonathan Knight, with Danny Wood, Donnie Wahlberg and Joey McIntyre. Starr produced New Kids on the Block to be a white version of New Edition as he stated I honestly believe that if they'd been white, (the group) would have been 20 times as big. With New Kids on the Block as Starr's "voice", Starr won Songwriter of the Year in 1989.
In addition to New Edition and New Kids on the Block, Starr also formed the boyband Perfect Gentlemen and discovered solo artist, Rick Wes.