Lately, I’ve been spending my workdays listening to the Bobby Brown Pandora Station and reminiscing on my childhood infatuations. Like so many women, I have a long history of boy band crushes. It all started in 1989, when I received my first cassette tapes and player. My mother gave me two tapes: Salt-n-Pepper’s A Salt with a Deadly Pepper and The Boys’ Messages from The Boys. Some of you may not remember The Boys – the four brothers had a relatively short career – but, back then, every girl in my elementary school went crazy when they heard “Dial My Heart”. And yes, I went crazy too! I discovered my weakness for older men at age 6, when I fell for then 12 year old Khiry (the eldest brother/member of The Boys). Check out his dance moves in their music video for “Dial My Heart”.
Later, I would follow numerous boy bands including the Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, 3T, and Immature. I spent my allowance on copies of Right On! magazine and the latest CDs. I even spent hours watching The Box, MTV and BET and recording music videos, interviews, and any other footage I could get of my boy bands. My mom found these minor boy band obsessions somewhat amusing. She occasionally picked up teeny bopper magazines, escorted my friends and I to concert arenas filled with screaming girls, and framed my posters. But the greatest sign of her understanding and patience was her willingness to listen to the same songs over and over AND OVER again in the car. To this day, I don’t know how she managed to listen to some of those songs back to back!
Perhaps my mother was sympathetic to my pathetic admiration for boy bands because she had similar feelings when she was younger. When my mother was a tween she was fascinated by a particular boy band…the Jackson 5! And who wasn’t!?! So many women – like my mother – grew up listening to songs like “I Want You Back” and “Got To Be There” imagining that one of those Jackson boys was singing to them. Although she was only a year older than Michael and the same age as Marlon, my mother was smitten with older brother Jermaine Jackson. (I guess the apple didn’t fall from from the tree when it came to crushes on older boys.) I wonder if my mother caught this performance on the Flip Wilson show?
But, the boy band following didn’t begin with my mother and the Jackson 5. I distinctly remember my maternal grandmother, Mildred Bundy, telling me about the entertainers she enjoyed in her 20s such as Jackie Wilson, Little Richard, and Peg Leg Bates. [I’ll share my grandmother’s Peg Leg Bates memorabilia in a later post.] But, there was one man that definitely grabbed her attention. That’s right! The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown was one of her favorite musicians. After two daughters, two granddaughters, and over 30 years of marriage, my grandma grinned from ear to ear whenever she heard him sing. It’s safe to say that James Brown was far too great of a musician, entertainer, and activist to be lumped in with boy bands, but he did have the ultimate swoon effect that most boy bands only hope to for. I can only imagine how a younger Mildred reacted when she saw performances like this.