I was clicking around today, when I learned that Bell Biv Devoe has released “Run,” their first new song in fifteen years. I watched the video, and then I fell down the Wiki-hole. It started with an idle curiosity about just how old Ricky Bell, Michael Bivens, and Ronnie DeVoe are. I also thought that Bobby Brown was dead, for some reason, but I was mistaken about that.
For me, those names, along with Ralph Tresvant, are still forever-linked with New Edition, the band they all shared throughout most of the 1980s. I used to have their first singles (Cool It Now, Mr. Telephone Man) on 45 rpm vinyl, the cassette singles of my youth. In late 1985, thirteen year old me played the hell out of my All For Love cassette. I still occasionally hum their song about staying in school.
There’s a verse in one of the songs, where the band members are listed off: “Ronnie, Bobbie, Ricky and Mike,” says Ralph Tresvant, and “Hey Ralph!” says one of the others. I’m not actually sure who has the line, but that little back-and-forth has been stuck in my head on and off for thirty years.
Fast forward to April of 1986. I was in the eighth grade, and my father had secured tickets to the two of us to see the “All For Love” tour in the West Palm Beach auditorium! This was my first ever concert, although I’ve seen at least 128 other musical acts since then. I didn’t know it at the time, but Bobby Brown had just left the group, so he wasn’t part of the 1986 tour.
Dad was a very good sport to take me, because this entire event was way outside of his comfort zone. The general admission system wasn’t very well organized for this show, and getting into a seat involved a fair amount of pushing through a crush of people. I was a small kid at that point in my life, so it was extra crazy for me.
I still have the ticket stub for this show. I still have almost all of my ticket stubs. This one is kind of amazing because it was printed by a ticketing company that no longer exists (Bass Ticket Outlets), for a concert venue that no longer exists (the West Palm Beach Auditorium).
What was your first concert? What was your favorite?