Bobby Brown In-depth Biography
One of the brightest R&B} stars of the late '80s and early '90s, Bobby Brown} was the man who popularized new jack swing}, a blend of classic soul}, urban synth-funk}, and hip-hop} rhythms that often featured rap} breaks in between the conventionally melodic verses and choruses. Guy}'s Teddy Riley} may have been new jack}'s greatest innovator, but Brown} was its greatest hitmaker, crossing over to pop} audiences with his blockbuster Don't Be Cruel} album and thus making new jack swing} the dominant trend in R&B} through the early '90s (which, in turn, helped kick start the solo careers of his former bandmates in New Edition}). As R&B} tastes changed, Brown} became better known for his private life than his music; a sometimes rocky marriage to Whitney Houston} and a series of run-ins with the law kept him in the tabloid headlines for most of the '90s, even though he wasn't actually recording much music.
Brown} was born February 5, 1969, in Boston, and began singing with Roxbury schoolmates Michael Bivins} and Ricky Bell} in 1978. The group developed into New Edition} and, after a few talent show wins, was discovered by producer Maurice Starr}. Starr} signed the group to his label and co-authored its debut hit, "Candy Girl,"} which helped get New Edition} a deal with MCA}. After a few years of teen stardom, Brown} longed to move on to an adult solo career, and left New Edition} in 1986. He released his debut solo album, King of Stage}, in 1987, and while it didn't make a name for Brown} as a pop} star, it did spawn a major R&B} hit in the ballad} "Girlfriend."} Overall, though King of Stage} gave little indication that Brown} was about to become a breakout star on the cutting edge of modern R&B}.
For his follow-up, Brown} sought a more distinctive musical identity in the budding new jack swing} movement. He enlisted the emerging production/songwriting team of L.A. Reid} and Babyface} to handle the majority of the record, with new jack} pioneer Teddy Riley} coming onboard in a limited capacity as well. The result, Don't Be Cruel}, was a state-of-the-art, star-making affair. Released in the summer of 1988, the record produced Brown}'s first pop} Top Ten hit in the title track, but really started to take off when the driving statement of purpose "My Prerogative"} went all the way to number one toward the end of the year (and managed to work the word "prerogative" into a catchy hook). From there, Don't Be Cruel} just kept spinning off hits: the ballad} "Roni,"} the dance tune "Every Little Step"} (which showed off Brown}'s rapping skills), and another ballad} "Rock Wit'cha"} all hit the Top Ten in 1989, with the former two both making it all the way to number three. Don't Be Cruel} topped the album charts and sold a whopping seven million copies, making Brown} a superstar. In 1990, he was tapped to provide the theme song for Ghostbusters II} and responded with the number two smash "On Our Own,"} another rap}/R&B} mixture; he also contributed a rap to friend Glenn Medeiros}' number one pop} hit "She Ain't Worth It."} Brown} was so popular at this point that even his 1990 remix album Dance!...Ya Know It!} went platinum.
And then, somehow, the momentum began to slow. Countless other artists expanded on the new jack swing} blueprint, with many of Brown}'s former New Edition} colleagues at the forefront: Bell Biv Devoe}, Johnny Gill}, Ralph Tresvant}. Moreover, Don't Be Cruel} made L.A. Reid} and Babyface} into hot commodities, and their sound was all over the airwaves. Just before his new album, Bobby}, was released in the summer of 1992, Brown} married superstar diva Whitney Houston}, who sang the duet "Something in Common"} on the new record. Bobby}'s lead single, "Humpin' Around,"} was a smash on both the pop} and R&B} charts, reaching the Top Five on the former. However, Bobby} didn't sustain the momentum of Don't Be Cruel}; perhaps it didn't stand out from the pack the way Don't Be Cruel} had in 1988, or perhaps white audiences were too preoccupied with grunge}. Whatever the reason, sales of Bobby} topped out at around two million copies, despite several more R&B} hits in "Good Enough,"} "Get Away,"} and "That's the Way Love Is."} In 1993, Georgia police arrested Brown} for an overly suggestive stage performance, an incident that would prove to be the first of many legal difficulties for Brown} over the next few years.
In 1995, Brown} was arrested after a brawl in a Disney World nightclub, in which a patron who allegedly made a pass at a woman in Brown}'s party had his ear at least partially torn off. (Charges were later dropped when Brown} settled out of court.) Several months later, Brown} was charged with battery in Los Angeles after allegedly kicking a hotel security guard who tried to halt a party in Brown}'s room (he was sentenced to two years' probation). The same year, Brown} checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic to battle drug and alcohol problems. However, in August 1996, he wrecked Houston}'s leased Porsche while speeding in Florida; reportedly, his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. In the midst of all this chaos, Brown} found time to record with the fully reunited New Edition}, whose comeback album, Home Again}, entered the charts at number one that fall. Brown} toured with the group, but departed for good when the tour was over. Meanwhile, the tabloids were having a field day over Brown} and Houston}'s rumored marital problems; in 1997, Brown} was accused of spousal abuse when Houston} suffered a cut on her cheek during a yachting trip, although both Brown} and Houston} denied the reports.
Also in 1997, Brown} released his fourth solo album, Forever}, a commercial disappointment which failed to even break the Top 50. In the summer of 1998, Brown} was arrested for sexual battery stemming from an alleged incident in the Beverly Hills Hotel, although no charges were filed for lack of evidence. He served five days in a Florida jail stemming from his drunk-driving incident, and after spending time in rehab, he was arrested again for allegedly having shown up at the jail drunk. Brown} reportedly violated his probation by testing positive for cocaine several times; while those charges were dropped, he was sentenced to 75 days in jail for refusing to take another drug test in the summer of 2000. Upon his release, Brown} began working in earnest on a new album, which was derailed for a time when he suffered a seizure in the summer of 2001, reportedly from heat exhaustion and dehydration. It wasn't until 2002 that he really came back into the media spotlight; following a duet with Ja Rule} he was captured by the police for marijuana possession and driving without a license after a routine stop for speeding. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide