Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph & Johnny Continue to Make Music and Tour
By Robert ‘Smith’ Mitts @ROBNEHISTORIAN
New Edition exploded on the music scene in 1983 with their smash #1 hit ‘Candy Girl’ and the rest as they say is history. The group, consisting of members Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe and Johnny Gill, went on to have unbelievable success selling out arenas all over the world and hitting the top of the charts with their hits ‘Cool It Now,’ ‘Mr. Telephone Man,’ ‘Count Me Out,’ ‘A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes),’ ‘Can You Stand The Rain,’ ‘Hit Me Off’ and the aforementioned ‘Candy Girl.’ The 80’s and 90’s were considered to be the group’s hey day but the group and its members have been touring and releasing music throughout the 21st Century keeping their die-hard fans happy. Let’s take a closer look at some of the music released this century and you may discover some hidden gems or enjoy some favorites.
The first member of New Edition to release new music in the 21st Century was Ricky Bell. The New Edition singer and Bell Biv DeVoe front man released his 1st solo album ‘Ricardo Campana’ in 2000. The album featured the first single ‘Spanish Fly’ and outstanding ballads such as ‘Come Back’ and ‘It’s All About You.” Fellow New Edition member Ronnie DeVoe is featured on the tracks ‘Still I See’ and ‘Have Ya Cake’ and Johnny Gill is featured on the song ‘Struggle.’ The album is a must have for all New Edition fans but unfortunately did not get the commercial success it deserved. Ricky is known as the best kept secret in R&B. Preview the album below.
In 2001, Bell Biv DeVoe were next up to release new music to their fan base. The trio released their third studio album ‘BBD’ behind the first single ‘Da Hot Sh*t.’ Stand out tracks were the bumping ‘Breezy,’ the ballad ‘I Ain’t Going Nowhere’ and the catchy ‘In My Crib’ which features Ralph Tresvant. As a consumer, I felt the material on this album was much better than the groups 1993 ‘Hootie Mack’ album. Preview the album below.
New Edition regrouped in 2002 without Bobby Brown and starting touring with En Vogue in venues around the country. The group signed a record contract with Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs in 2002 after he caught one of their shows in Boston, that would eventually result in the release of the ‘One Love’ album in 2004. The album was filled with strong songs showcasing the groups vocal ability with a younger R&B, Pop and Hip-Hop sound. The only problem was the group didn’t want to sound younger, they wanted to be who they were. They wanted to be New Edition, not a younger version of themselves. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Albums Chart and managed to go gold selling over 600,000 copies but thanks to disagreements on the direction of the group the project was essentially shut down after the 1st single ‘Hot 2Nite.’ The album included a number of great songs including ‘Come Home With Me,’ “Newness,’ ‘Start Turning Me On,’ ‘Re-Write The Memories,’ ‘That’s Why I Lied’ and ‘Leave Me.’ Take a listen to the ‘One Love’ album below and explore some great music by New Edition.
Having cut ties with Combs and Bad Boy, the group continue to perform concerts in 2005 on their ‘Behind Closed Doors’ Tour. Bobby Brown was featured on Damian Marley’s song ‘Beautiful’ and Johnny Gill contributed his song ‘You for Me’ for Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion Soundtrack. The group received a national audience when their initial story was told on VH1’s ‘Behind the Music’ which showcased the up and down career of the group. In 2006 the group was selling out venues on there ‘Spend the Night with New Edition’ tour, which was sponsored by Lincoln Motors. While touring with New Edition, lead singer Ralph Tresvant also performed in the stage play ‘Man In Her Dreams’ and released his third solo album called ‘Rizzwafaire.’ The first single and video was ‘My Homegirl’ which was a wonderful R&B ballad. The album included signature Tresvant songs such as ‘Never Noticed’ and ‘Too Cool’ in which Ralph sings effortless with his trademark vocals. Tresvant, along with Ricky Bell both received an ASCAP award as songwriters. Bow Wow’s hit ‘Like You’ sampled New Edition’s “I’m Leaving You Again’ which was written by Tresvant and Bell.
In 2007, the group continued to tour as New Edition as well as individually as Bell Biv DeVoe, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill. Ralph Tresvant was featured on The Notorious B.I.G. track ‘I Want That Old Thing Back.’ Michael Bivins appeared as a judge on MTV’s ‘Making The Band Season 4. New Edition’s last show to the paying public was on August 4, 2007. Shortly thereafter, they performed at a private event at the Apollo theater. This would be the start of the New Edition hiatus for touring together as a group.
In 2008, the group received the prestigious ‘Golden Note Award’ at the ASCAP’s 21st Annual Rhythm and Soul Music Awards. “A special highlight of the evening was the presentation of the prestigious ASCAP Golden Note Award to the six members of New Edition. Celebrating their 25th anniversary as recording artists, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant were honored in recognition of their innovative and enduring contributions to ‘Rhythm & Soul’ music, which have earned them an extraordinary place in American popular music” according to the ASCAP press release. Following a video tribute highlighting the career of the platinum hit makers, writer/producer Maurice Starr and ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento presented awards to each member of the group. Shortly thereafter, they went on to record a song with New Kids on the Block called ‘Full Service.’ Lead Singer Ralph Tresvant released the single ‘It Must Be You.’
2008 also saw the debut of yet another spin off act from New Edition. Heads of State was formed by Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill and they toured the country and overseas as a trio. The other trio, Bell Biv DeVoe also toured the world.
In 2009, New Edition came back together as a group for one night to perform a tribute to Michael Jackson on the BET Awards after his untimely death. The group hadn’t performed together in over 2 years but they collectively came together as only New Edition could do to honor Michael and his family. They performed a medley of Jackson Five hits just as they did when they started out as kids. Bell Biv DeVoe released two songs; ‘Welcome to My Heart’ and ‘You.’ Bobby Brown released his single ‘Damaged.’ Take a listen to all 3 songs below.
In 2010 the group continues to tour individually, as Bell Biv DeVoe and Heads of State toured nationally. In between dates, Johnny Gill and Bobby Brown performed solo concerts. New Edition hasn’t performed in concert as a group since 2007. Ricky Bell took to Twitter to tweet his fans. “Dear NE Fans. We love you. We appreciate you and have not forgotten about you. Thank you for your support. #NE4LIFE!” Bell said. Bobby Brown was featured on Macy Gray’s song ‘Real Love’ and Bell Biv DeVoe had a new record called ‘H.E.L.L.O’ that was receiving some radio play but was never released officially.
In 2011 New Edition finally reunited and all six members performed at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. They group announced they had a new web site, and an Official Twitter & Facebook Page and would be touring extensively in 2012. Johnny Gill released his album in 2011 that included the singles ‘In The Mood,’ ‘Just They Way You Are,’ ‘Who Is He’ and ‘It Would Be You.’ Gill had signed a deal with Notifi Records out of St. Louis, MO.
In 2012 New Edition embarked on a sold out ‘Road to the 30th’ Tour in the United States. In total, the group performed 75 shows and grossed $8.6 million dollars. VH1 named Bell Biv DeVoe’s ‘Poison’ as their #1 R&B Song of the 90’s. Bobby Brown released his long awaited album ‘The Masterpiece.’ The group received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Soul Train Awards. All six members were in attendance.
In 2013, New Edition only performed 3 times as a group and spent much of the year touring individually. Touring is the bread and butter for these guys and they are very successful doing it, whether as New Edition or individually.
In 2014, New Edition went on the road again for their very successful #AllSix Tour that had fans saying it was one of the best tours they have seen in a very long time. Before the tour kicked off at Foxwoods, the group performed a medley of hits to a national audience on ABC’s ‘The View” which resulted in the group trending on social media.
Johnny Gill released a new album on his own label entitled ‘Game Changer’ in December of 2014 that did very well on the Billboard Charts. The 1st single was ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and featured the hits ‘Game Changer,’ ‘5000 Miles,’ ‘What Is This’ and ‘This One’s For Me and You’ featuring New Edition.
In 2015 the members spent most of the year on the road. Johnny Gill, Bell Biv DeVoe and Bobby Brown performed a number of concerts across the country. Production started for the New Edition Story in Los Angeles slated for a 2017 release. New Edition did several shows towards the end of the year on the East Coast, gearing up for another big year in 2016.
In 2016, New Edition performed in concert in the Spring doing Funk Festivals and then went out on the group’s ‘This One’s For You’ Tour that would again sell out across the United States. The group was featured on Johnny Gill’s song ‘This One’s For Me and You’ and reached #1 on the Billboard Chart for 4 weeks, 33 years since their first #1 hit in 1983.
The group filmed the video for ‘This One’s For Me and You’ in Miami on January 2, 2016 and featured Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins. It was the perfect song for ‘New Edition’ to record at that time in their career. The visuals for the song showed New Edition looked as good as ever and continue to sound great together. Watch the video below:
In January 2017, it seemed as if New Edition took over the world. They had a record breaking three-night mini series on BET called ‘The New Edition Story’ and they were trending for all the right reasons. People were celebrating New Edition in every sense of the word. Fans were flocking to download New Edition’s catalog on digital platforms. The group would also receive their Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which broke attendance records by attending fans at the ceremony. Fans were geniuely happy to finally see New Edition get their just due. Unfortunately, New Edition did not tour or record new music. Instead, on the last night of the mini-series, Bell Biv DeVoe released their new album ‘Three Stripes’ that featured a couple of bangers. Accompanied by the first single ‘Run,’ the album featured the hot track ‘I’m Betta,’ a sweet duet with SWV on the song ‘Finally,’ and stand out tracks ‘All Dat There,’ ‘Find A Way’ and the song ‘Incredible’ which lives up to its name. Ricky Bell was also featured on the Qwes Kross song ‘Love Juice.’
In 2018 we would see yet another spin off act from New Edition. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike would form ‘RBRM’ and go on a national tour. Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill would perform solo shows. Ricky Bell teamed up with his wife Amy to record and release a beautiful ballad called ‘Gold.’
In 2019 Johnny Gill released his third album in 8 years, titled ‘Game Changer II’ which was a continuation of great music built on the success of his previous album ‘Game Changer.’ Like the previous album, this body of work again featured fresh and exciting new music that works well with Gill’s vocal. The first single was the ballad ‘Soul of a Woman’ followed by the 2nd single ‘Perfect’ that features fellow New Edition member Ralph Tresvant, both singles landing in the top 10. The album ‘Game Changer II’ went to number 1 on the Billboard Charts.
In 2020, Ralph Tresvant released his long awaited and highly anticipated single ‘All Mine’ which was released on July 3, 2020 and received rave reviews. Tresvant would later have his own Docuseries called ‘A Closer Look’ in which he opened up about his career and his life with New Edition. The series premiered on November 5th on UMC. Ricky Bell was featured on the Clinton Sparks song ‘When We Fell in Love. Bell consistently has great vocals. Ronnie DeVoe was featured on Tylan’s song ‘Feel This Way.’
On July 7, 2021 Creative Artists Agency announced that they have signed New Edition as clients and are in the process of setting up a New Edition Tour and Las Vegas Residency in 2022. This article was written about celebrating the careers of New Edition in the 21st Century. They have given so much to their fans, its only right to give the love back. As a fan from day one, I’m especially proud of Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny and truly appreciate them as individuals, not just as entertainers. They are the group of our generation. Through Blood, Sweat and Tears, New Edition has shared their lives with us since 1983, giving us everything they had. They’ve toured all over the world and have had their share of heartbreaks. But through it all, we’re with them all the way. We look forward to great things from New Edition in the future.
About The Author
Robert ‘Smith’ Mitts has been documenting the history of the super group New Edition since 1983. He has written extensively on the group and has been published in numerous publications. He is also an award winning photographer and his photos have been featured in magazines and newspapers across the country.