Despite recent rumors of ill health, Bobby Brown was in high spirits when he appeared at the Boston premiere of the BET miniseries The New Edition Story on Sunday. In fact, he was far more concerned about the snow grounding his flight back to the decidedly sunnier California.
“I really want to get back to Los Angeles,” he told PEOPLE. “My kid has to go to school tomorrow, so I’ve got to get a plane.” The 47-year-old former boy bander recently became a father for the seventh time when wife Alicia Etheredge-Brown gave birth to daughter Hendrix Estelle Sheba in July. “It’s wonderful!” he said of his growing brood.
When pressed on tabloid whispers of serious sickness and covert hospitalizations — which his lawyer previously denied to PEOPLE as “untrue” — Brown was also quick to dismiss the claims.
“People make up a lot of different stories about me. But, as you can see, I’m fine, and handsome, and healthy,” he said, laughing. “Look at me. I’m happy as a lark.”
“I miss her,” he said. “I miss her.”
It’s a reflective time for Brown. The upcoming three-part miniseries, which airs Jan. 24, 25 and 26, dramatizes his early days in the chart-topping R&B pop group, when hits like 1983’s “Candy Girl” and 1984’s “Cool It Now” afforded him a first taste of stardom.
New Edition-era Brown is portrayed by actor Woody McClain, who trained hard to master the original’s fancy footwork.
“Performing on stage, that was Bobby’s thing,” said the 27-year-old Hollywood newcomer. “That’s why they called him king of the stage. They had us take a boot camp for three weeks.”
But Brown wasn’t always the king of the stage. In fact, the biopic tells how a young Brown once mistook the fans’ cheering and screaming for booing and fled the stage before singing one note or making one dance move.
“That’s true,” Brown confirms. “It was about the screams. I thought they were booing me, but they were screaming for me. I didn’t know about screams.”
Four of the five original members of New Edition, longtime manager Brooke Payne, McClain and fellow actor Luke James, who plays band member Johnny Gill, attended the movie screening, held at a local theater.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who also attended the screening, declared Jan. 8 “New Edition Day” in Boston.
“Being here right now, listening to the music, takes me back to being a teenager,” Walsh said. “I grew up listening to these guys.”
“These were young kids from the projects who went onto world-wide fame,” he added. “It’s important for the city to recognize their accomplishments.”
- With additional reporting by MELODY CHIU