Years ago, Bell Biv DeVoe did a one-off show in Amsterdam with Bobby Brown, their former groupmate in New Edition. “It was interesting, because he went on after us, and you could tell he felt like there was some smoke on that stage,” Bell Biv DeVoe’s Michael Bivins remembers. “It pushed him to another level of entertainment – he went back to pop lockin’. We were over there mesmerized, saying, ‘That’s the Bobby Brown we know!’ Little did we think we’d ever combine that entity into RBRM.”
This fall, Bell Biv DeVoe and Bobby Brown will build on the foundation set at the Amsterdam show by touring the U.S. together. “It’s very explosive for concert goers,” Bivins promises.
The RBRM tour follows the release in 2017 of The New Edition Story, a three-part biopic on BET that drew almost 30 million viewers. “It introduced us to a younger audience,” Bivins says. “We were the Number One trending topic on Twitter three nights in a row.” Though he was frustrated by the lack of acclaim for the series – “I wish it would have gotten a little more acknowledgement as opposed to just the BET awards and the NAACP awards” – the commercial success of The New Edition story served as a launching pad for another New Edition tour.
But since New Edition contains so many different entities with their own hits – in addition to Brown and Bell Biv DeVoe, Johnny Gill still enjoys success on radio and Ralph Tresvant attempted a solo career in the Nineties – the history of the group is fraught with scheduling complications. It’s not entirely surprising, then, that a post-BET-series group tour didn’t get off the ground. “Since Ralph has his radio show and Johnny’s been touring, a New Edition thing wasn’t able to happen,” Brown tells Rolling Stone during a separate phone call. “We decided to put a group together and perform for the people.”
“We still have to keep the calendars going, stay consistent in the touring marketplace – that’s basically our main area of work for the last 10 or 15 years,” Bivins adds. “Bobby was going out, so we said, maybe if we can’t do the whole group, we’ll just go out together. We’ll keep that same New Edition synergy.”
On tour, the core lineup of Bell Biv DeVoe and Brown will be augmented by six back-up dancers and two background singers. “Our band, oh my God, it’s incredible – we have two drummers, a DJ, a bass player, a keyboardist, a guitarist,” Brown says. “It’s bangin’. You gotta understand, it’s banging.”
When RBRM performed in March at Funk Fest 2018, they earned the admiration of former Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson. “He gave us a lot of encouragement, said how good it looks,” Brown recalls. “He was like, ‘man, y’all shoulda been doing this.'” Tickets for RBRM will go on sale June 6th, with organizers noting that more dates will be added soon.
But don’t think this is a New Edition show by another name. “When we’re New Edition, we do New Edition songs, we wear $2,000 suits,” Bivins says. “When we’re Bell Biv DeVoe, we wear $2,000 leather jackets with T-shirts and boots and sneakers. It’s a totally different thing. That’s what makes New Edition so special: Each entity has its own identity.”
Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike (RBRM) – Tour Dates
September 6 – Ontario, CA Citizens Business Bank. Arena
September 7 – Las Vegas, NV Red Rock Casino
September 8 – Lincoln, CA Thunder Valley Casino
September 9 – Tuolumne, CA Westside Pavilion at Black Oak Casino and. Resort
September 13 – Milwaukee, WI Miller High Life Theatre
September 14 – Chicago, IL Arie Crown Theatre
September 16 – St. Louis, MO Chaifetz Arena
September 21 – Brooklyn, NY Ford Amphitheatre at. Coney Island
September 22 – Mashantucket, CT Foxwoods Casino
September 23 – Atlantic City, NJ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino