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From boy band to bloated: Bobby Brown

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When we heard VH1 would be featuring Bobby Brown on the new season of "Behind the Music," we wondered what took the network so long. If there was ever a perfect fit for the show, it's the Roxbury-bred R&B singer, no? The hour-long episode airing tonight proves the point, tracking Brown's trajectory from sudden teen sensation to bloated, bleary-eyed ex-husband of Whitney Houston. There's vintage footage of Brown's early days in the Orchard Park housing project - "the equivalent of Beirut," he says - and the subsequent formation of New Edition, the chart-topping boy band that included Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ralph Tresvant, and Ronnie DeVoe. A certified star by the time he was 14, Brown says he started drinking and drugging as soon as he had some money. "I was reckless," he says. "I was in it to party as hard as possible and to leave a young corpse." After being bounced from the band in 1985, Brown kept up his wild ways - and he could afford to, thanks to his 1988 LP, "Don't Be Cruel," which went platinum seven times over and registered five No. 1 hits. At the age of 21, Brown was worth an estimated $30 million. Although he's often blamed for ruining Whitney, Brown insists she was a lot like him. "We ain't talkin' a princess," he says. "We talkin' a ghetto girl and a ghetto boy." Brown admits his addiction to drugs eventually overwhelmed him. "Between the 'Bobby' album and the 'Forever' album, that was five years that I don't remember," he says. "No, that's high." As with most "Behind the Music" segments, this one ends on a somewhat hopeful not. We see Brown, still bloated but less bleary-eyed, performing on stage with Tresvant and Johnny Gill. Now 40, he says he's committed to making a comeback - and getting in shape. To that end, he's on the new season of "Celebrity Fit Club."

To remind you how innocent - and good - New Edition was, see this.

Caption: Bobby Brown working with students at the Berklee College of Music before his induction into the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame .

About this blog

This blog features the latest local and national celebrity news from The Boston Globe's Names column team. Check back for the latest updates.
Mark Shanahan joined The Boston Globe in 2003, having worked previously at the Portland Press Herald, where he covered City Hall, and the Lewiston Sun-Journal, where he was the education reporter. A Northampton native and graduate of Bates College, Shanahan enjoys the usual - books, music, movies, etc. - as well as the unusual.
shanahan@globe.com
Follow on Twitter: @GlobeNames, @MarkAShanahan
Meredith Goldstein has worked for the Globe since 2003, covering everything from nightlife to New Kids. She keeps her eyes peeled for celebrity juice, and also writes Love Letters, a Boston.com blog for hopeful (and hopeless) romantics. Meredith chats about love problems every Wednesday at 1 p.m. If you see Justin Timberlake or someone like him at a local eatery, please e-mail her immediately. mgoldstein@globe.com
Follow on Twitter: @GlobeNames, @MeredithGoldste

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