A singer behind eight solo and duet Top Ten R&B hits, as well as a member of New Edition since 1987, Johnny Gill was born in Washington, D.C., and began singing at a young age, beside his brothers in the gospel group Wings of Faith. His solo career began in 1983, when he signed to the Atlantic-affiliated Cotillion label and scored a number 29 R&B hit with his first single, the Freddie Perren-produced "Super Love." Even then, Gill had a mature and muscular voice -- one that sounded more like that of a grown man than a high schooler. Alongside childhood friend and fellow Cotillion artist Stacy Lattisaw, he scored an R&B Top Ten hit with "Perfect Combination," the title track to the vocalists' 1984 album of duets. A second solo set, 1985's Chemistry, failed to gain much traction.
Gill's career was given new life when he was asked to joined New Edition -- as the replacement for Bobby Brown -- for the recording of 1988's Heart Break. In 1989, he was featured on two additional R&B hits: "Where Do We Go from Here," a number one hit from Lattisaw's What You Need, and "One Love," by saxophonist George Howard. Another self-titled solo album was released the following year and sold a million copies on the strength of four major hit singles; "Rub You the Right Way," "My My My," and Wrap My Body Tight" topped the R&B chart, while "Fairweather Friend" merely made it to number two. While that would represent the singer's commercial peak as a solo artist, 1993's Provocative and 1996's Let's Get the Mood Right both went gold. He teamed with Keith Sweat and Gerald LeVert to form LSG, a group that issued albums in 1997 and 2003 and peaked with the debut's "My Body," another number-one R&B single. Gill remained with New Edition, who released One Love in 2004. He would not release another solo album until 2011's Still Winning. Three years later, he announced the release of his seventh studio album, Game Changer. The record saw him working with the likes of Chuck Harmony, Tony Dixon, and Babyface, as well as New Edition. ~ Andy Kellman & William Ruhlmann