New Kids On the Block Biography and Profile

New Kids on the Block
New Kids on the Block. Photo by Ebet Roberts / Redferns

New Kids on the Block are one of the most successful boy bands of all time. With their emergence in the late 1980s, they rewrote the definition of what a boy band could be and laid the groundwork for many groups to come.

Formation and Early Career

In the early 1980s, Boston-based pop mogul Maurice Starr guided the group New Edition to national pop and r&b success. After Starr severed ties with New Edition he endeavored to put together a white version of the group.

Donnie Wahlberg was the first group member selected. His younger brother Mark was initially in the group, too, but he quit before the first recordings and went on to become Marky Mark of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and later successful movie actor Mark Wahlberg. The next members to join were Danny Wood and the Knight brothers, Jordan and Jonathan. Finally, 12-year-old Joey McIntyre completed the lineup.

Columbia Records released the group's self-titled first album in April 1986. Two singles from the album failed to generate national interest. The group toured around New England in any venue that would have them. Maurice Starr convinced the label to support a follow-up release.

Group Members

  • Jonathan Knight
  • Jordan Knight
  • Joe McIntyre
  • Danny Wood
  • Donnie Wahlberg

Breakthrough Success

A second album, Hangin' Tough, was recorded during 1987 and 1988. The group decided to toughen up their sound with influences from hip hop music after the bubblegum pop of the first album failed.

The first single from the project, "Please Don't Go Girl," was released in the spring of 1988. It seemed destined for failure as well until a Florida pop radio station picked up the song and the success encouraged Columbia Records to provide more national promotion. They reshot the accompanying music video for "Please Don't Go Girl" and sent it to radio stations around the country.

The single finally hit the pop top 10 and was followed by the major single "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," picked up by MTV, and the group's first #1 single, "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)." The album, Hangin' Tough, became a #1 smash as well. The group's success convinced Columbia to re-release "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)," a single from the group's first album, and it hit the top 10 too which helped the debut album earn belated success and ultimately be certified triple platinum for sales.

Top New Kids on the Block Hits

  • 1988 - "Please Don't Go Girl" #10
  • 1988 - "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" #3
  • 1989 - "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" #1
  • 1989 - "Hangin' Tough" #1
  • 1989 - "Cover Girl" #2
  • 1989 - "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind)" #8
  • 1989 - "This One's for the Children" #7
  • 1990 - "Step By Step" #1
  • 1990 - "Tonight" #7

Step By Step

Following a double platinum Christmas album, Merry, Merry Christmas, New Kids on the Block went back to the studio to record the album Step By Step, which was released in June 1990 at the peak of the group's popularity. The group members were involved in co-writing and producing more than half of the album's songs. Step By Step included the #1 hit title single and the top 10 hit "Tonight." At the end of 1991, New Kids on the Block were named Forbes magazine's highest paid entertainers of the year surpassing Michael Jackson and Madonna.

New Kids on the Block merchandise from lunchboxes to dolls and clothing was tremendously popular. Despite the impressive level of success, the popularity of New Kids on the Block began to fade such that an early 1992 standalone single, "If You Go Away," failed to make the top 10 after nine consecutive top 10 hits.

Face the Music and the Breakup of New Kids on the Block

In 1993 New Kids on the Block parted ways with their founder and manager Maurice Starr. The group's name was officially shortened to NKOTB for the release of the album Face the Music in January 1994. It was the group's first album of new material in almost four years and included more direct creative input from the band members. However, hit singles failed to materialize. Following an aborted tour, the group decided to disband in June 1994.

Solo Careers

The most successful solo New Kid was Jordan Knight. His self-titled solo album released in 1999 included the top 10 pop hit "Give It To You." Joe McIntyre had some solo success with the album Stay the Same. Donnie Wahlberg pursued an acting career, appearing in a number of movies and TV shows. Danny Wood did some low profile performing, and Jonathan Knight left the entertainment business entirely choosing a real estate career instead.

Reunion

Rumors of reunions for New Kids On the Block began almost from the time the group first broke up. Unsuccessful attempts to reunite the group took place in both 1999 and 2004. Finally, in the spring of 2008, news appeared that the group was indeed reuniting. A single "Summertime" appeared in May and immediately was added to pop radio playlists across the country. It rose to #18 on the mainstream pop radio chart and broke into the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the group's first top 40 pop hit in 17 years. New Kids on the Block performed live on the Today Show to a huge audience May 16, 2008. The New Kids On the Block reunion tour began in the fall of 2008 and included both Natasha Bedingfield and Lady Gaga as opening acts. The studio album The Block reached #2 on the album chart, the group's highest placement on that chart in 18 years.

In 2011 New Kids On the Block joined together with Backstreet Boys for a joint tour under the name NKOTBSB. A compilation album was released with two new songs and it hit the top 10. In the spring of 2013 New Kids On the Block released their fifth studio album 10.

It included the single "Remix (I Like The)" and reached the top 10 on the album chart.

New Kids on the Block continued to tour extensively after their successful album. They launched a European tour in 2014 and performed a limited engagement in Las Vegas in the summer of 2014. In 2015 they headlined a tour called The Main Event with TLC and Nelly as supporting acts. It earned more than $25 million in ticket sales.