Motown promoted Today as the new Four Tops in the late '80s, though the group had company. The Boys were pushed as the new Jacksons and the Good Girls the new Supremes. Today and the Boys enjoyed number one R&B hits, while the Good Girls charted with a few singles but never reached the pinnacle. Today -- Frederick Lee "Bubba" Drakeford, Larry Singletary, Wesley Adams, and Larry McCain -- were childhood friends from Englewood, NJ. They formed as the Gents around 1984 and befriended a record company executive at an anti-drug benefit who arranged a meeting with the then virtually unknown Teddy Riley, who renamed them Today. Reportedly, Today was the first group that Riley produced. Riley was producing for MCA Records and secured a deal for Today. The head of MCA's urban division, Jheryl Busby, was making an upward corporate move to Motown Records to replace the departing Berry Gordy Jr. as the president. (Gordy became chairman of the board.) Busby came loaded for bear. He brought Today, the Boys, the Good Girls, Milira, Rich Nice, MC Trouble, and others with him. They were labeled the New Motown Artists and toured the States with a fantastic live show headlined by the Boys that sequenced from artist to artist with virtually no waiting time between acts. Things looked rosy. Today's first single, "Him or Me," charted. But their second single, "Girl I Got My Eyes on You," rose to the top of Billboard's R&B survey April 8, 1989; the Boys' second number one, "Lucky Charm," preceded it at the top April 1, 1989 (also for one week). A third single, "Take It Off" (also released as a 12"), didn't meet any of its projected sale forecasts, nor did "You Stood Me Up"; all bounced from the group's debut Motown album, Today. Things didn't look so rosy anymore. Like the Boys and the Good Girls, Today resented the way they were being produced and promoted. Riley headed their first album but was missing in action on the group's second and final Motown album, The New Formula -- whose title speaks volumes. The second LP flopped. The only bankable thing from it was the single "Why You Get Funky on Me" (March 1990). Surprisingly, shortly after the New Motown Artists-heralded tour, all the acts involved seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. (MC Trouble suffered a brain tumor.) Today, who recorded as the Gents on Positive Image Records prior to Motown ("For You and My Baby") (1984), disbanded. The Gents' lineup differed slightly. The members were Drakeford, McCain, William McNeir, Ronald Scruggs, a guy identified only as Harold, and Bernard Bell. Bell sang background vocals on Today's final Motown album. Using his street holler Big Bub, Drakeford started a successful solo career, enjoying hit singles off his first solo album on East West Records, Comin' at Cha (1992), which he followed with LPs on Universal and Flavor Unit Records. He went on to produce others and make his ample pipes available for backing sessions. Singletary did vocal arrangements and wrote songs for other acts including F.A.T.E. and Big Bub. And, with Adams and McCain, wrote songs and made demos in an attempt to get a deal as a trio. ~ Andrew Hamilton

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