You Say It's Your Birthday: New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe's Michael Bivens

Today is the 29th birthday of Michael Bivens, singer for New Edition and Bell

Biv Devoe, who was born in Boston, Mass. In the tradition of the Jackson Five, a group of young black teenagers was assembled and called the New Edition in 1981, a group whose soft vocal harmonies and catchy tunes would win the hearts of millions. These men included Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant and our birthday boy, all of whom met in a Boston junior high school. Their singing act was discovered by producer Maurice Starr, who landed them a record deal and helped them release their self-titled debut in 1984. Singles such as "Candy Girl" had already gone to #1, only to be followed by more smashes -- "Mr. Telephone Man," "Cool It Now" and a cover of "Earth Angel" among them.

While the group did well, its members were itching to go solo. New Edition

called it quits in 1986, when Brown departed to make his own way.

Tresvant and late-addition Johnny Gill did likewise, while Bell,

Bivens and DeVoe formed a R&B hip-hop group called Bell Biv Devoe. They

released Poison in 1990; its title track and "Do Me" not only hit the

top 10, but cleared away its members' wholesome images. For 1991's WBBD -- Bootcity the trio collaborated with Luther Vandross, and in 1993

released their final album, Hootie Mack. By that point "gangsta" rap

was in full swing, and the band's softer tones didn't fare as well.

However, in 1996, New Edition announced that it was reuniting, and earlier

this year the sextet released a new album, Home Again, which features

production work by Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Gerald Levert.

Other birthdays: Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), 50; Jimmy Dean, 69; Eddie

Fisher, 69; Bobby Hatfield (Righteous Brothers), 57; Ronnie Spector, 52;

Patti Austin, 49; Jon Farriss (INXS), 36; Melissa Rollins (Indonesia); Todd

Nichols (Toad the Wet Sprocket) and actress Rosanna Arquette.