You Say It's Your Birthday: Jonathan Knight of New Kids On The Block

Jonathan Knight is celebrating his 29th birthday today. Born in Worcester,

Mass., Knight would go on with his falsetto-singing brother Jordan and

three other Caucasian cuties to become the New Kids On The Block, a

bubble gum-pop group that caused massive pre-teen hysteria in the late

'80s. The group was first assembled in 1984 by former New Edition

producer/promoter Maurice Starr. Bitter after having just lost his

protégés in a legal battle for their freedom, Starr set out to assemble an

identical group, though this time around with white kids that (allegedly)

had street cred. The first one recruited for the group was Donnie

Wahlberg, who then introduced Starr to the brothers Knight and breakdancer

Danny Wood. Wahlberg knew the Knight brothers and Wood because they shared something in common: All four were bused into the all-black Roxbury

district from more affluent school districts. Joe McIntyre was added to the lineup and Nynuk was born. Nynuk? Yup, that is until Wahlberg wrote a song

entitled "New Kids On The Block" for the group's 1986 self-titled debut.

While their debut went nowhere, there were much bigger things in store for

the Kids. They scored a prime opening slot on fellow teen sensation

Tiffany's 1988 tour and, later that year, unleashed their magnum opus

Hangin' Tough. The album hit No.1 on the pop charts and its litany

of Starr-written and -produced tracks filled the singles charts. "Please

Don't Go Girl" started it off by landing at No. 10 in 1988, then "You Got It

(The Right Stuff)" hit No. 3 in 1989. Later that year, the group scored its

first No. 1 single, "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" and then followed it up with

another No. 1, "Hangin' Tough." The obligatory Christmas album was released a year later, as was the endless assault of New Kids On The Block

merchandise: posters, videos, T-shirts, notebooks, magazines, cartoons ... the

whole nine yards. 1990's Step By Step also hit the top of the

charts in 1990, as did that album's title track on the singles chart. In

1991, the inevitable backlash began and the squeaky-clean band found its

members involved in lip-synching accusations, club brawls and the trashing of

hotel rooms. The group resurfaced in 1992 with a tougher image and sound,

under the moniker NKOTB, but a nation of Blockheads had grown out of them

by that time and the group quietly disbanded a year later. Since that

time, NKOTB fan sites on the web (yup, they exist) report that birthday boy

Jonathan Knight is the most reclusive of the Kids, preferring to lay low and work on a variety of business ventures.

Other birthdays: John Mayall (John Mayall's Bluesbreakers), 64; Denny Doherty (Mamas & Papas), 56; Felix Cavaliere (Rascals), 53; Ronnie Montrose, 50; Barry Goudreau (Boston), 46; Sally Timms (Mekons), 38; and Greg Lisher (Camper Van Beethoven), 34.