Category: bobby brown

On this day in music history: August 5, 1989 – “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is the fifth R&B chart topper for Boston, MA born vocalist. While his multi-platinum second album “Don’t Be Cruel” is still riding the charts, Bobby Brown is asked to write a song for the soundtrack for  "Ghostbusters II", the sequel to the 1984 mega blockbuster film. Brown comes up with a song titled “We’re Back”, that the film producers like, but don’t feel that it’s suitable to be used over the films title sequence. As principle photography is wrapping, producers L.A. & Babyface, who had written and produced much of Brown’s second album, are called to write another song for Bobby. The pair offer, “On Our Own”, co-written with frequent collaborator Daryl Simmons. The song had originally been intended for Babyface’s second solo album “Tender Lover” but was not used on the project. The lyrics are partially re-written to fit well into “Ghostbusters II”. By coincidence, this is the second time that a song originally for Babyface had been passed on to Brown, having also recorded “Every Little Step” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) for “Don’t Be Cruel”. Bobby Brown also has a small role in the film the mayor of New York City’s doorman. Released as the first single from the “Ghostbusters II” soundtrack on May 30, 1989, it is an immediate hit, and is Brown’s fifth number one single on the R&B chart. It just misses being his second number one on the pop chart, spending three weeks at number two, behind Prince’s “Batdance” and Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting”. “On Our Own” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 23, 1988 – “Don’t Be Cruel” by Bobby Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on October 15, 1988. Written by L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B singer from Roxbury, MA. After the initial success that Bobby Brown has with his first solo number one single “Girlfriend” in December of 1986, the former New Edition vocalist looks to make a stronger album than his debut effort “King Of Stage”, which even he feels is not up to par. Bobby works with producer and songwriters L.A. Reid and Babyface, fresh off of their initial success with The Whispers and Pebbles. Hitting it off immediately with Brown, the producers go into the studio and begin working up material. The track that becomes “Don’t Be Cruel” originates with a drum pattern programmed by Reid that is initially meant to be a song for another artist. As they continue to work on it, and before they begin to write lyrics (w/ co-writer Daryl Simmons), L.A. and Face know instinctively that it is a perfect fit for Bobby. As well as the main verses and chorus, they also intersperse the song with rap verses to punctuate the verses that are sung, creating a unique hybrid, that is much imitated in the future. Before its completed, all agree that it is a smash. Released as the first single in May of 1988, “Don’t Be Cruel” takes off quickly on R&B radio before crossing over to the pop chart. “Cruel” is the first of three chart topping R&B, five top five R&B, and five top ten pop singles from the album, which launches Brown into pop superstardom. The week “Don’t Be Cruel” tops the R&B singles chart, #2 single is “Roses Are Red” by The Mac Band, also penned by Reid and Babyface (#1 the previous week), and at #3 are Brown’s former group mates New Edition with “If It Isn’t Love”, and Paula Abdul’s debut single “Knocked Out”, also written by L.A. and Face is sitting at #9, giving the ultra hot producers three singles in the R&B top ten simultaneously. The success of “Don’t Be Cruel” helps propel the album to over 7x Platinum in the US, cementing L.A. and Babyface’s reputation as top producers and songwriters. “Don’t Be Cruel” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Bobby Brown, Salt-N-Pepa and Ike Turner at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation

Pioneer Awards in 1995.

On this day in music history: June 20, 1988 – “Don’t Be Cruel”, the second album by Bobby Brown is released. Produced by L.A. Reid, Babyface, Gene Griffin, Larry White and Bobby Brown, it is recorded at Silverlake Studios, Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA, Cochrane Studios in Studio City, CA, Axis Studios in New York City, Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, CA and Infinite Studios in Alameda, CA from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. Experiencing only modest sales with his solo debut album “King Of Stage” in spite of topping the R&B charts with the single “Girlfriend”, Bobby Brown looks to re-group and make a stronger album with his sophomore effort. The singer hooks up with producer and songwriters L.A. Reid and Babyface, though having just stepped away from their own band The Deele are already on their way to becoming commanding forces in the music industry. Brown also works with producer Gene Griffin, who then is mentoring and managing a young musician named Teddy Riley of the R&B band Guy. Though Riley is not properly credited as such at the time, he is instrumental in co-writing and producing the tracks he works on. Also looking to make the transition from teen age R&B singer to a more adult sound, Bobby works closely with his collaborators to make that happen. Dominated largely by L.A. and Face’s songs, the album’s opening salvo comes with the title track “Don’t Be Cruel” (#1 R&B, #8 Pop) released on May 16, 1988. The song quickly becomes a hit, becoming the first of three R&B chart toppers, also crossing over and hitting the top ten on the pop chart. It spins off four more singles including “My Prerogative” (#1 R&B and Pop), “Roni” (#2 R&B, #3 Pop), Every Little Step (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) and “Rock "Wit’cha” (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). The massive success of the “Don’t Be Cruel” album turns Bobby Brown into a major solo star, helping further popularize the New Jack Swing sub genre of R&B, and giving it mainstream crossover appeal. The album’s sales are such, that it generates a spin off remix album titled “Dance!… Ya Know It” in October of 1989. also going Platinum. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, “Don’t Be Cruel” is reissued on LP by Get On Down Records in 2014. “Don’t Be Cruel” spends nine weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, six weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston during the 38th Annual Grammy Awards Pre-Party Hosted by Clive Davis on February 27, 1996 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

On this day in music history: April 15, 1989 – “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on June 10, 1989. Written and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the Boston, MA born R&B singer. The uptempo new jack swing flavored “Step” is originally intended for Babyface’s “Tender Lover” album which is being recorded at the same time as Brown’s second solo album, but is given to Brown at the last minute to fill out his album. Issued as the fourth single from “Don’t Be Cruel”, it is another major smash. When the song is released, MCA includes remixed and edited versions on the 45. The B-side of the single features rap verses in the breakdown (rumored to have been written by Smooth B of the rap duo Nice & Smooth, but not credited) becomes an airplay favorite as well is being used in the video. The single wins Brown a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1990. In 2010, the music video for “Step” is parodied by the online comedy website Funny Or Die, and features comedian Wayne Brady and former boxing champion Mike Tyson. Bobby Brown is also featured in the clip which goes viral. “Every Little Step” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston video shoot for “Something In Common” in November 1993.

Photos by Cesar Vera

On this day in music history: December 27, 1986 – “Girlfriend” by Bobby Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #57 on the Hot 100 on January 24, 1987. Written by Larry White, Lee Peters and Kirk Crumpler, it is the first solo chart topper for the R&B vocalist from Boston, MA. Having been voted out of New Edition in December of 1985, for being a constant disruption to the group, not showing up for gigs and general erratic behavior. Upon being dismissed from his former group, Bobby Brown is offered a solo recording contract with MCA Records. Paired with producer and songwriter Larry White, lead singer of the R&B/Funk band Collage, Brown begins recording his first solo album “King Of Stage”. One of the songs Bobby records is the ballad “Girlfriend”, which was originally written for Collage’s Solar Records label mates The Whispers but is not finished in time for the group to record it. The song is instead offered to Brown, cutting it at Infinite Studios (Too Short, E-40, Club Nouveau) in Alameda, CA in early 1986. Released as a single in October of 1986, “Girlfriend” reaches the top of the R&B singles chart nine weeks after entering the chart at #84 on October 25, 1986. In spite of a promising start to Brown’s solo career, the follow up singles “Girl Next Door” (#31 R&B) and “Seventeen” (non-charting) under perform on the charts, with the accompanying album selling poorly as a result. Vowing to do better the next time out, Bobby Brown makes good on that promise with his make or break sophomore album in 1988.

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown during 1993 MTV Movie Awards

Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards Pre-Party Hosted by Clive Davis on February 27, 1996 at Beverly Hills Hotel.