New Kids on the Block: Forever Boston’s Boy Band
For boy-band lovers who lived through the ’90s, we can’t help but chuckle and roll our eyes at the so-called boy bands around today—either branded by Disney or somehow arbitrarily associated with Simon Cowell. Let’s be honest: The ’90s was the decade of the boy band.
But even before the days of *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and Hanson, there was a group of kids from Boston who truly initiated the Boy Band movement. In the late ’80s, New Kids on the Block was the biggest group of heartthrobs around, topping major artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson, and selling out arenas across the country and overseas.
In Nikki Van Noy’s new authorized biography, New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters, Jordan and Jon Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Joe McIntyre, and Danny Wood confess that, in spite of their international success, they have been and always will be loyal to their hometown.
Here are five reasons why NKOTB will be forever Boston’s boy band (excerpts from Five Brothers and a Million Sisters):
1. The guys were local celebrities way before they were international popstars.
Jon remembers, “We were Boston quasi-celebrities because we were always doing talent shows, and everyone knew Maurice [Starr].” There were moments when the guys started to feel as though they were making progress. Danny says, “When you see the crowd reaction, and it’s an all-black crowd, and there’s five white boys up there, you start to think, ‘Maybe we got something.’”
Maurice Starr is a Boston-based music producer who assembled the boy band and wrote some of the band’s best hits—“Step by Step,” “Hangin’ Tough,” and “Cover Girl.” Starr was named Billboard’s Songwriter of The Year in 1989. Not bad for a guy who started producing in a studio out of his house in Roxbury, eh?
2. Danny Wood believes their 2011 concert at Fenway Park defines their success.
“Listen,” band member Danny Wood says, “we don’t have any Grammy Awards. I couldn’t care less about any of that stuff. Nothing will ever top Fenway. Not playing any other stadium anywhere else around the world.”
NKOTB also played at the Garden and the Worcester Centrum in the early ’90s, and again at Boston’s newly named TD Bank North Garden in their 2008 comeback tour. Boston is the place to be when touring. Right, as if that’s news to us?
3. Joe, the youngest member of NKOTB, was only 14 years old when the band formed. His career brought him full circle when his childhood theater group performed with NKOTB at Fenway Park.
“I was six years old when I sang my first song with the Neighborhood Children’s Theatre,” Joe explains, “literally miles away in Jamaica Plain. To be at Fenway with them was just as phenomenal. As if that day could be more emotional, I got to do that. The four other guys were so supportive. It’s a simple thing, but to have their support is really special.”
4. Boston has been an undeniable support system for the band for more than 20 years.
Joe explains, “There’s so much love for this group in the city of Boston that’s really staggering. And Boston’s a tough town—don’t get too big for your britches, that whole thing. Around the reunion there was a feeling of ‘We’re proud of you, and you did it right. Attaboy,’ It gets us. We appreciate it so, so much. It’s a love like no other.”
5. Former musician, Academy Award nominee, and Donnie’s younger brother, Mark Wahlberg, dedicates his success to Boston as well.
“I’m so glad that I got to be here to introduce these guys tonight because [twenty-seven] years ago I introduced them at their first show at Lee School. It’s pretty damn incredible, them going from the Lee School to Fenway Park. I’m very proud, especially of my brother, who I don’t get to thank that often. But if it wasn’t for him, I’d probably still be incarcerated somewhere right now instead of doing what I do and having the beautiful family that I have.”
Okay, Marky Mark, let’s not forget that you have Donnie to thank for your success as a rapper and underwear model as well. Nobody rocks those Calvin Klein’s quite like you do.
New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters, the authorized biography by Nikki Van Noy is in stores today. Visit the book’s website for more information.
Correction, 10/2/2012, 2 p.m.: New Kids on the Block sang “Cover Girl,” not “Candy Girl.”