BLACK VOICES

How New Edition Avoided 'Heart Break'

An oral history of the album that brought the ultimate boy band back to life.

It was 1986, and New Edition needed a slam dunk.

The all-male singing collective from Boston housing projects was on its way to becoming a true supergroup — but only if its remaining members could convene and create the album that Jheryl Busby knew they had in them. Busby, who began his career at Stax Records and became president of Motown, was then president of black music at MCA Records.

New Edition, founded in the Orchard Park Projects in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood in 1978, was down to four members: Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivins, and lead singer Ralph Tresvant. Bobby Brown had been voted out of the group in 1985 due to his on-and-off stage antics, and he was prepping for his second solo album, the instantly classic Don’t Be Cruel.

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