Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1985 New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man

Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Bobby Brown were still in an elementary school in Boston when they began singing together in 1978. Ralph Tresvant joined the group, and the four of them won a talent contest in 1980. Ronnie DeVoe joined them after the talent show victory, and the five of them began searching for more talent contests.

Writer/producer/promoter Maurice Starr “discovered” the group and began to manage them. He signed the boys to a record label contract with a small record label and co-wrote and co-produced their first album. The group’s name became The New Edition.

While the group was working hard to record a few songs, Ray Parker Jr. wrote, produced, and recorded the single A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do) with his group Raydio in 1981. After that, he pursued a solo career that included the theme song from Ghostbusters in 1984.

When their first single was released from their album, the members of New Edition were all 13, 14, or 15 years old. Candy Girl didn’t quite make it to the Hot 100 top forty, but the single topped the R&B chart in 1983. Two more singles from the album also found a home on the R&B chart. Ralph sang lead vocals on all three singles.

The group fired Maurice as their manager and moved on to MCA Records, where they recorded their second album. The first single with MCA was Cool It Now, which received much better promotion and distribution than they had with the smaller label. The single earned a gold record and reached #4 on the Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart.

Their next single was Mr. Telephone Man, which sounds a lot like A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do). The similarity is understandable: Ray Parker Jr wrote and produced the song. The record was not as successful as Cool It Now but still reached the top of the R&B chart and get to #12 on the Hot 100 in 1985.

While the group had another half-dozen top ten R&B singles, it would not do well on the Hot 100 chart again until after the group fired Bobby Brown in late 1985 and recruited Johnny Gill to replace him in 1986.

Bobby Brown went on to an extremely successful solo career, and the New Edition eventually splintered and all the members had successful careers outside of the group. The group has reformed and recorded a few more times with top ten records as recently as 1996.

Maurice recovered from being dumped by the New Edition when he recruited another bunch of young singers and created the New Kids on the Block.


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