One sister, Bunny DeBarge, and four brothers, Mark, James, Randy and El DeBarge, combined to form this family group in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, in 1978. Signed to Motown Records in 1979, they were viewed and marketed as successors to the young Jackson Five, a ploy helped by the physical similarity between El DeBarge and Michael Jackson. After several years of grooming from Motown's A&R department, the group (then known as the DeBarges) were launched with the album The DeBarges in March 1981, and gained their initial soul hit 18 months later. 'I Like It' repeated this success and crossed over into the pop charts, while two 1983 hits, 'All This Love' and 'Time Will Reveal', established DeBarge as one of America's most popular acts in the teenage market. A support slot on Luther Vandross' 1984 US tour brought them to a wider audience, and in 1985 they scored their biggest hit with the seductive 'Rhythm Of The Night', taken from the soundtrack to Motown's movie The Last Dragon, in which the group also appeared. This single reached number 3 in the US charts, a success that the follow-up release, 'Who's Holding Donna Now"' came close to repeating. Lead vocalist El DeBarge had become synonymous with the group's name, and his decision to go solo in February 1986 effectively sabotaged the group's career. In 1987, Bunny also departed when the rest of the group signed to Striped Horse Records. In the event, only Mark and James (who had briefly been married to Janet Jackson in the mid-80s) appeared on the resulting Bad Boys, by which time their commercial impetus had been lost. The group's wholesome image was seriously damaged by the arrest and conviction of their other brothers Bobby and Chico DeBarge in 1988 on cocaine trafficking charges.
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