Joe’s proud father, Tom McIntyre, remembers watching the boys perform that night. “I was there with my daughter Judy, and Alma and Marlene. We were the only Irish people there. There was a break, and I went downstairs and smoked my cigar. I said to myself as I was smoking my cigar, ‘Jesus, if these guys at Amrheins could see me now.’ . . . The Apollo is the first thing they did with any kind of notoriety. They knocked ’em dead. It was marvelous.”
ON THE EVENING OF JULY 19, 1988, the five guys (along with a slim road crew) gathered outside Maurice’s house, ready to board their bus and embark on their first national tour, as pop singer Tiffany’s opening act. While Jordan and Donnie had recently finished high school, Joe was still only 15 and in between his freshman and sophomore years. As the guys boarded the bus, a small group of family, friends, and “fans” bid them farewell. “I was crying,” Jordan says. “I think it was mainly over my girlfriend. All our friends were there, and they were hugging us. We were going off on tour. There were three girls waving us off — they were fans-slash-friends-slash-neighborhood girls.”
Tom McIntyre remembers seeing off his son and the other New Kids. “They left in a bus that would be lucky to get to Copley Square,” he says, “let alone wherever they were going.” Jon and Jordan’s mother, Marlene Putnam, recalls that night as a moment of stirrings that bigger things were afoot. “The boys went on the tour bus with care packages from the parents,” she says. “We were there to say goodbye, and the bus rode off. Off they went to become famous. They were going off, as far as we were concerned, to be an opening act for Tiffany. Wasn’t this great? But that was really their first big bus ride off into stardom.”
Nikki Van Noy is a writer and editor in Boston. Send comments to email@example.com. From New Kids on the Block, by Nikki Van Noy. Copyright © 2012 by Nikki Van Noy. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Inc.