Johnny Gill Reveals What Was True & False About The New Edition Story (Video)
Singer Johnny Gill joined New Edition in 1987, following the Boston band’s firing of Bobby Brown. The Washington, D.C. native who had two solo albums and a collabo with Stacy Lattisaw out prior to 1988’s Heartbreak was recently portrayed in The New Edition Story. Part of the group ever since (even through Bobby’s return), Gill became a Grammy-nominated singer, who also found great solo success, in addition to another acclaimed venture, LSG.
Johnny appeared on The Breakfast Club this morning (February 16). There, he walked Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy through the truths and fictionalizations about BET’s recent three-part biopic.
On the personal sacrifices Ralph Tresvant made for the overall group: TRUE
At 6:30, Johnny Gill says he agrees with the film’s portrayal of the sacrifices of New Edition’s Ralph Tresvant. “[Record label executives] were asking him to go solo a long time ago. His whole thing was about what are the [New Edition] guys gonna do?” He credits Ralph as New Edition’s true lead singer, and says that Tresvant was frustrated at times, with his career being anchored by the four, sometimes five other members. “I was aware of it. Totally,” Gill notes, alluding that he and Ralph discussed those tensions. He also admits that Ralph was the last to learn that Johnny had been officially added, meeting him during a rehearsal session.
On he and Bobby Brown fighting: FALSE
Speaking of tensions, at 7:20 Johnny addresses reports that he and Bobby Brown had a fight. Gill assumed Bobby’s spot in the group, and says that he reveals that the ousted member admitted jealousy, but recognized Johnny’s abilities. “The craziest thing is, Bob used to come to my crib…he used to stay at my crib when he’d come to L.A. I still kept hearing all this stuff, ‘Oh, they’re fighting. He came and he took Bobby Brown’s place,’ and it was the total opposite for us.” Continuing to dispel the representation, Gill says, “I never had any issues with Bob…or with Ralph.” He adds that the studio conversation, where the bonding begins in the film, was an accurate portrayal, straight out of interviews with the group. “He was talking about leaving the group. He’ll tell you to this day…when we started bonding, man, that’s what made me stay in this group.” Later in the interview, Angela Yee asks who he’d share a bus with in the group on the next tour, and credits Ralph as “my ride-or-die, my road dog.”
On the accuracy of Luke James portrayal of him: VERY TRUE
Late in the interview (31:30), Gill praised the acting performance of Luke James, who played him. While the real-life J.G. and the actor spent “the least amount of time together,” Gill certifies the portrayal as authentic. “To watch him embody me, and spent not that much time around me…[he] was a guy who really did his homework. When I was looking at him, I’m just sitting there going ‘Wow.’ And, all my friends said the same thing. Anybody that knows Johnny, they know that [Luke’s portrayal] is who you are. And it was funny to watch this guy be able to…well, you know he can sing…but to be able to pick up on my demeanor and be able to embody me, and my attitude about how I felt about the business, about life, of them, was truly incredible. And, I told him, I was like ‘Man. Yo, son. You nailed it. You nailed it.”
On the film’s depiction of the way “Can You Stand The Rain” came together in the studio: FALSE
At 23:13, DJ Envy asks Gill about the film’s depiction of the recording process for “Can You Stand The Rain,” one of New Edition’s most iconic songs. Specifically, Envy says “Did you record ‘Can You Stand The Rain’ just like that, where you’re all in the studio and going verse, verse?” Without hesitation, Gill responds “No. No. We didn’t do that. A lot of the stuff I would sing and then do the ad libs, and then they would come back in…It didn’t matter to me what I had to do, when I came into the group.”
On Ricky Bell’s substance abuse problems: TRUE
One of the film’s biggest revelations was the struggles Ricky Bell had with cocaine and other substances. Bobby Brown’s issues had been widely reported, but Ricky’s problems had been kept under wraps, until the film’s premiere. When asked about Rick (24:40), Gill responded “It was so bad at one point, we had someone with him to try to help him, because he struggled. He struggled. But the thing is, he wanted to stop. He wanted out. And I told him. I remember we had some conversations and we talked. [I said] ‘Hey, man. It’s like a baby learning how to walk. You’re going to keep falling, but a baby don’t don’t stop. They get right back up. But, having the desire to do so, to want to heal and get better, you just gotta keep pushing and, at some point, you’re going to be standing up.'”
On the film’s depiction of him as a well-rounded individual: INCOMPLETE
He does show some criticism towards The New Edition Story. “At the end of the day, I’m cool. But at one point, I felt a certain kind of way when they were shooting at one point. I said, ‘Wait a minute. They’ve got the girlfriends, they’ve got the brothers, they got their sisters, they got their mamas, and I didn’t just show up like a genie out of a bottle and started singing. Like, hey! I had a family too.” Gill says that producers considered exploring his District of Columbia roots, but that it did not happen. “I was a little disturbed at one point…” he admits. “Everybody else’s family is in the movie but mines.” JG also says that his mother was ill during filming. Overall, however, he acknowledges that he was very pleased with his depiction in the film.
Johnny did say that while his conflicts with Bobby and Ralph may be overblown, he and Michael Bivins recently had a lengthy conversation to set aside some differences. Mike, who appeared with Bell Biv DeVoe on The Breakfast Club recently, spoke about his own problems with various New Edition members. According to Gill, Bivin’s business acumen has gone under-recognized and under-compensated in the music industry. He believes his band-mate should be in an elite circle with the likes of Jay Z, Puff Daddy, and Jermaine Dupri, all of whom are masters at cultivating talent.
From million-dollar homes funded by New Edition money to a strong negotiating ability, Gill says that he has never suffered financial hardship. Meanwhile, he believes that he appears in the background of so many photos and artwork pieces, despite perhaps being the most financially successful member of the outfit.
Johnny Gill last released Game Changer in 2014. The J Skillz Records LP peaked at #56 on the charts. He confirms that New Edition is at work on their eighth album. Additionally, Johnny will produce Ralph Tresvant’s upcoming solo LP.
Later in the interview, Gill suggests that he has used “My, My, My” beyond the stage and studio. While some of his band-mates have had storied challenges with addiction, J.G. declares that he has never even seen cocaine powder.
Gill is presently on tour with Uncle Charlie Wilson and Fantasia.