Human beings love a good comeback story. Tales of redemption help fuel sports fandom, fill cineplexes with countless films and inspire thousands of pop songs. The bigger the underdog, the better the story, which is why Vanilla Ice might be the best comeback story of all time. It cannot be understated how incredibly gigantic the guy was at his peak and how unbelievably far he fell when he hit bottom. Now that he is back making music and making money in real estate (as told on his TV show "The Vanilla Ice Project"), we can look back and recognize the highs and lows of his career. Those highs were extremely high, and he hit one of those peaks on this day in 1990, when his debut album To The Extreme hit the top spot on the Billboard albums chart, a place he would stay for an astounding 16 weeks.
Robert Van Winkle became Vanilla Ice when he was a teenager growing up in Dallas. He was known as an excellent break dancer and developed his rhyming skills enough to sign a record contract. He released his debut album Hooked on the independent Ichiban Records in 1989. The album contained "Ice Ice Baby" (which was actually the b-side to his first single "Play That Funky Music"), which picked up a ton of radio and video support even before the album. Ice signed a better deal with SBK Records, who reissued Hooked as To The Extreme, which became an immediate smash. It ultimately sold 11 million copies and, as mentioned previously, was on top of the Billboard chart for 16 consecutive weeks (it wouldn't budge until it was forced out by Mariah Carey's self-titled debut in March of 1991).
Ice's fall from grace has been well documented: He was exploited, lost a ton of money and ended up a series of commercially invisible albums. But he's back and better than ever now, with a refreshingly upbeat philosophy on life ("Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery"). And admit it — despite the clothes and the bad hair, "Ice Ice Baby" still kind of rules.