On Monday (Jan. 23), R&B group New Edition was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — a fitting tribute to the ’80s quintet responsible for some of the decade’s most iconic hits — and as viewers learned over the course of BET’s three-night biopic The New Edition Story, the road to fame is a bumpy one.
The mini-series — which dominated social media and reeled in 4.4 million total viewers with its premiere telecase on Tuesday with 2.6 million of those viewers in the 19-49 age range — delved into New Edition’s beginnings as child stars while peeling back the curtains on the group’s shortcomings.
While both the cast of kids and their older counterparts nailed their portrayals of Ralph Tresvant, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill, fans were also curious about the current status of the group’s real-life members.
Here’s what the men of New Edition are up to now.
Then: While Bobby Brown may have been dubbed New Edition’s resident bad boy, the singer was an undeniable standout star and — after being kicked out of the group in the mid-’80s — the first one to pursue a successful solo career. His larger-than-life persona and grittier, new jack swing-influenced sound resulted in breakout album Don’t Be Cruel spawning five top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and winning Brown his first Grammy award, for “Every Little Step”.
Now: Although his personal life — he was the late Whitney Houston’s husband, and father to the late Bobbi Kristina Brown — often eclipsed his artistic legacy, Bobby Brown continued to churn out music, with 2012’s The Masterpiece standing as his last album to date. Brown, along with NE bandmates Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant, formed the group Heads of State, and embarked on their own tour only to later reunite with all of the NE members.
Bobby Brown is also set to headline the Valentine’s Day Music Festival this year with fellow R&B kings Keith Sweat, Avant and El DeBarge. Aside from music, Brown and his wife Alicia launched Bobby Brown Foods, an all-natural food product line designed to provide healthy seasoning and sauces to consumers. Brown has also appeared in Kevin Hart’s scripted BET series Real Husbands of Hollywood.
Then: After Brown’s dismissal from the group, Gill joined NE as one of the lead vocalists (along with Ralph Tresvant), doing much of the heavy lifting on a couple of the group’s biggest hits, “Can You Stand The Rain” and “If This Isn’t Love.” Like Brown, Gill saw considerable solo success outside of his NE membership — the D.C. native’s 1990 self-titled effort went double-platinum, and follow-ups Proactive(1993) and Let’s Get The Mood Right (1996) both went gold.
Now: Since going solo, the singer hasn’t missed a beat, and released his last studio offering Game Changer in 2014. Gill will join Fantasia as an opener for Charlie Wilson’s In It To Win It tour, kicking off in February.
Then: Tresvant held down the lead vocal spot since the group’s inception, and despite Gill’s entrance later in NE’s career, the original frontman’s voice remained an essential part of NE’s sound. He released his self-titled debut album in 1990, which was warmly received, largely thanks and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart-topping single “Sensitivity”.
Now: Tresvant ventured into acting and media projects, playing Sam Cooke in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get On Up. Last September, he launched his own radio show; Inside the Ride, based in his hometown Boston.
Hop "Inside The Ride" Witcha man, 4pm eastern! See you there! pic.twitter.com/e0vYACLQDN
— Ralph Tresvant (@RalphTresvant) September 12, 2016
Then: Bell lingered in the group’s background as a supporting vocalist, but when Bell Biv DeVoe emerged, he fronted the newly formed spin-off trio, whose debut effort Poison went 4x platinum and spawned the all-time classic title track.
Now: Bell currently tours with Bell Biv Deoe, and the group recently performed for Steve Harvey’s Showtime at the Apollo. BBD’s new album Three Stripes — the trio’s first album in over 15 years — was released on Friday, Jan. 27.
Then: In The New Edition Story, fans got to see how Michael Bivins demonstrated that he was more than just a musical talent, as he decided to learn about the business side of the music industry — leading to him discovering ’90s hitmaking groups like Boyz II Men and Another Bad Creation, and starting the Motown-distributed record label Biv 10 Records, which produced the popular girl group 702.
Now: Last October, Ramsay Park in Boston — Bivins and the group’s native city — named its basketball court after the singer, who “put a lot of time into playing ball”.
Then: DeVoe was determined to join NE when the group was developing, eventually getting in thanks to the involvement of his uncle, choreographer Brooke Payne. He then later joined Bell and Bivins in Bell Biv DeVoe.
Now: Ronnie DeVoe may be a household name thanks to his boy-band credentials, but he discovered a second career later in life as the founder and CEO of DeVoe Broker Associates, a real estate company based in Atlanta.