Many fans of the supergroup, New Edition, were shocked to learn of the drug abuse of member Ricky Bell, the oftentimes quiet, soulful singer who is also a member of Bell Biv Devoe in the third and final installment of BET’s The New Edition Story miniseries.
The first two parts were filled with entertaining drama, but the last installment revealed that Bobby Brown wasn’t the only one who dealt with substance abuse.
In real life, Bell was not only addicted to cocaine, oxycontin, and alcohol but he also nearly died from a cocaine overdose and ended up in rehab.
Ricky shared on social media the one reason why he wanted his closely guarded secret to finally be told:
“I must tell you that your words of support & incredible love for me is only surpassed by my incredible love for you. I shared my closely guarded story of pain and addiction for the sole purpose of gifting hope and inspiration to those who may be suffering as I once did. It is my helping hand to you. Grab ahold and don’t let it go… because I won’t. With every fiber of gratitude in me, I thank you. God Bless Us All.”
Played by Elijah Kelley, Bell first displayed his battle with substance abuse during the Home Again album cover shoot in 1996, where he washed down two pills with brown liquor. On the album’s accompanying tour in 1997 — during which the entire group was in debt — his addiction spiraled. Then, once New Edition left midway through the tour, Bell hit rock bottom, losing his house and other assets. “They’re garnishing my publishing,” he told his distraught wife. “There’s no more money.”
But the group had money issues from the beginning. Despite all their hard work and newfound fame, the “Candy Girl” stars didn’t earn enough money to move out of the hood because of a shady record deal. Even after having the #1 record in the country, their mothers were all still on food stamps, and the boys’ royalty check was a whopping $1.87–that’s it, yet the group repeatedly selling out New York City’s Madison Square Garden (remember the lyrics, “record company people are shady!”).
“It was tough. It was humbling to go back home,” Bell says. “Your friends had seen you on TV. And we’re still going back to the same schools. We’re thinking we made it big, but we’re right back there.”
But what is incredible is the love that Ricky’s wife, Amy, had for him during the whole ups and downs of his career, drug habit and sobriety.
Amy Correa Bell is an actress, singer, and model. The Puerto Rican, Guatemalan, Japanese and Jewish beauty married Ricky in 2004.
With finances being the number one cause of divorce during their money troubles, she stayed. With symptoms of drug abuse ranging from verbal and physical abuse, she stayed. Amy was the one to actually help get Ricky into a credible rehab program to get him sober. Yes, she’s the real MVP.
Though New Edition patched up their tumultuous bond on-screen by the time they performed at BET’s 25th Anniversary Special in 2005, some underlying conflict still existed between some of the band members. And while those issues may not have resolved completely, Bell Biv DeVoe remains solid. The three-man crew released their long-awaited fourth studio album Three Stripes on Jan. 27th.
After reflecting on the life and times of their relationship, Amy penned this emotional message to her husband that read, “Thank you for your patience, your strength when I’m weak.
“Your belief in me when I had none in myself. And your unconditional Love. You are Gold and truly Heaven Sent. I love you @amycorreabell.”
Ahead of the biopic’s premiere, New Edition received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In November, the Undefeated published a piece that questioned why the band had yet to be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — an honor for which it’s been eligible since 2009.