Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Everly Little Step" by Bobby Brown - February 12th 80's Quest Song/Band of the Day

If you would have told me in 1989 that Bobby Brown would, in twenty years time, be considered a has-been I would not have believed you.  In 1988/1989 Bobby Brown was on the very top of his game, and could do no wrong - releasing successful song, after successful song.  Nearly every song on his 1988 album Don’t Be Cruel was a hit: “My Prerogative”, “Roni”, “Don’t Be Cruel”,  “Rock Wit’cha”, and the song of the day, “Every Little Step”, which was my favorite.  Whenever that song comes on it gets me dancing around the apartment.  It gets stuck in my head and I end up singing it all day.  When I was in college, the big thing to do on a Thursday night in 1989 was to go to a bar called “Nick’s” and do some dancing.  The song that everybody waited to hear that got everyone on the floor with a “whoop” was “My Prerogative”.  It was a very popular song back then!
It’s funny to see the clothing styles (and what is that hair-do of his called?!) in the “Every Little Step” video now.  Looking through present-day-eyes, everything seems quite dated.  It is also funny to see Bobby Brown so rail thin and skinny.  Around 2009/2010 I went to see Bobby Brown perform at BB King’s in New York.  I had never seen him perform before, and thought it could be fun, and I think I even got a deal on the tickets for like $11 (!).  I should have known...  He wasn’t the skinny, gyrating, fly-dressing Bobby Brown of old.  He was wearing a t-shirt, and was a lot chubbier (despite having just finished a stint on the celebrity weight loss reality program Celebrity Fit Club that was due to air); and therefore, was doing a lot less of the sexy gyrations he had been so famous for.  I wish I could have seen him back in 1989.  It probably would have been a blast!  Check out this 2010 remake of this song and you'll see what I mean.  Bobby Brown comes in near the middle and is joined by Wayne Brady and Mike Tyson in this video:

Bobby Brown’s given name is Robert Barisford Brown.  He was born in 1969.  He was living in the Orchard Park Housing Project (otherwise known as “The Bricks”) in a very tough part of Boston, Massachusetts called Roxbury when he and other friends from Orchard Park, Michael Bivens and Ricky Bell formed a band that went on to become New Edition.  He was always the youngest member of the band.  The band won second place in a talent completion run my music producer Maurice Starr.  Even though they were not the winners, Starr took them into the studio and recorded the song “Candy Girl” and from there took off and ran with the band.  They added friend, Ralph Tresvant and Ronnie DeVoe and performed all around Boston as New Edition.  The name came from the idea that they were going to be the “new edition” of The Jackson 5. 
The band went on to phenomenal success with such hits as “Candy Girl” (1983), “Cool It Now” (1984) and “Mr. Telephone Man” (1984).  They toured extensively and became the prototype of future boy bands such as New Kids On the Block and N’Sync.  Maurice Starr really did the band wrong; however.  Surprisingly, New Edition returned from their first major concert tour and were dropped off back in the projects and given a check in the amount of $1.87.  The excuse given was that tour expenses had eaten away profits.  The band parted ways with Starr in 1984 and litigation followed.  The band hired the law firm of Steven and Martin Machat in their efforts.

The band ended up signing with their lawyer Steve Machat and two of his partners who formed a management company called AMI, and they secured the band a record deal with MCA records.  By this time Bobby Brown’s behavior had become a problem for the band.  He was kind of known as the “bad boy” who would break out and do his own thing, usually lewd on-stage gyrations and antics, that didn’t follow along with the boy band squeaky clean image for young pre-teenagers.  He also feuded with other band members, butted in on their vocals, and tried to upstage them during performances.  In 1985 the other members of New Edition voted Bobby Brown out of the band.

Bobby Brown stayed on with Steven Machat and AMI, and they secured him a solo career on the same MCA label.  Now he could do whatever he wanted, and be his own “bad self”.  He was off and rolling.  He released his first solo album in 1986, King of Stage which included a minor hit called “Girlfriend” but which didn’t garner much attention despite its #1 status on the Billboard R&B charts. 
It was Brown’s next album, 1988’s Don’t Be Cruel that rocketed Brown to fame.  He worked with the winning production team of L.A. Reid, Babyface and Teddy Riley on this album and it was a chart-topping success.  The album produced 5 Billboard Hot 100 hits.  “Don’t Be Cruel” went to #8, “Every Little Step” went to #3, “Rock Wit’cha” got to #7, “Roni” was #3, and “My Prerogative” hit #1.  Brown also released a re-mix album of these hits, called Dance! Ya Know It to capitalize on their success. 

At the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards Bobby Brown met singer Whitney Houston.   They dated for 3 years and got married in July 1992.  A year later they had their only child together, a daughter Bobbi Kristina.  (Brown has 4 other children in addition to Bobbi Kristina:  Landon, La’princia, Robert Jr., and in 2009 had a son Cassius with his manager Alicia Etheridge to whom he became engaged in May 2010). 
Brown’s third album, 1992’s Bobby spawned #2 on the Billboard Charts hit “Humpin’ Around” and one other hit “Get Away” which reached #14.  The album did not nearly match the success of the Don’t Be Cruel album, though.


Good Lovin'...
Ow! Yeah!

I can't sleep at night, I toss and turn
Listenin' for the telephone
But when I get your call I'm all choked up
Can't believe you called my home
And as a matter of fact, it blows my mind
You would even talk to me
Because a girl like you is a dream come true
A real life fantasy

No matter what your friends try to tell ya
We were made to fall in love
And we will be together, any kind of weather
It's like that, it's like that

Every little step I take
You will be there
Every little step I make
We'll be together


I can't think too straight, I'm all confused
You must've put a thing on me
Because there aren't no words that can explain
I'm livin' in ecstacy
And you can best believe, I got ya back
You never have to feel no pain
'Cause I'd dedicate my life to you
You'll never look for love again



Every little...woo!
Every little step I...
Every little step (Every little...every little step I take)

Every little...
Every little step I...
Every little step (Every little...every little step I take)

Girl...good lovin'...
Good lovin'...


In 1996 New Edition released a comeback album, Home Again, and embarked on a reunion tour.  Brown’s show-stealing antics continued.  He would dance in a racy manner and stretch out his solos, thus cutting into the other singers’ time.  Tensions were high.  Brown and Bivens quit and the tour had to be cancelled.  Numerous reunions have occurred since, however.

Brown’s last album was 1997’s Forever.  He made the unfortunate decision to eschew the help of illustrious performers and producers R. Kelly, Teddy Riley, Sean Combs, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and instead negotiated 100% creative control on the album and wrote all the songs himself.  The album produced no charting singles.
Throughout the 1990’s – 2000’s Brown and wife Whitney Houston were forever in the tabloids with reports of alleged drug use, fights, and bizarre behavior which began to overshadow his music.  In 2003 Brown was arrested for misdemeanor battery against Houston.  In February 2004 he was arrested and jailed in Georgia on a parole violation of a prior drunk driving conviction.  In June 2004 he was sentenced to 90 days in prison for missing 3 months of child support payments (the sentence was suspended when Brown made back payments of about $15K).

In early 2004 Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston participated in a Bravo reality television program called “Being Bobby Brown” which aired in 2005.  It was a train-wreck look into the home life of the couple, which turned out to be very odd to the viewing public, and at times incoherent.  The show was not renewed for another season.
By September 2006 Brown and Houston finally separated, and got divorced in April 2007.

In 2008 Brown went on tour with Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill (who was his replacement in New Edition) in a group called “Heads of State”.   He appeared on a couple other reality television programs:  Celebrity Fit Club and Gone Country. In 2010 he recorded a duet called “Real Love” with Macy Gray on her album, The Sellout.  Gray is godmother to his son Cassius and friends with his new wife and manager.

This blogpost was written ahead of time, and as it turns out, one day before Bobby Brown's ex-wife Whitney Houston committed suicide in her hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hilton on February 11, 2012.    Bobby Brown was on tour with New Edition in Missisippi and performed as scheduled, but was reported to be distraught and "in and out of crying fits" after receiving the news of Houston's death. 

No comments:

Post a Comment