Come Back to Us: 90s Artists Who Left Too Soon

If you are like me and have your iPod divided by mood, feeling, or those awesome Genius playlists, you start to reminisce from time to time about what happened to some people in the music industry. I am not talking about down and out tragedies like the members of the 27 club. But I am talking about acts who were very talented and for some reason or another disappeared without much warning.

One thing I appreciated about growing up in the 1990s was the diversity of music offered. There was a pretty good equilibrium of Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop, Alternative, Country and Rock. Nobody was arguing about the uniformity of the radio or calling for the Death of Auto-Tune (Thanks Jay-Z!).

We were all happy to turn the dial in get our Shania fix or sing along to Sheryl Crow. And at the same time you could be feeling good to the grooves of Boyz II Men and the beats of the incomparable Dr. Dre. Everyone was happy for the most part.

But fore every long lasting and successful artist to emerge, there were those who had their shine but unfortunately due to record label issues, personal demons, or just a shift in the musical landscape they lose their place.

Crying for Jodeci

As much as I love Boyz II Men, you had to admit they were a little too square at times. Not that being square is bad, but sometimes you have to make things interesting. And that is exactly what Jodeci did for many of us R&B lovers for most of the 1990s.

Formed in the great city of Charlotte, North Carolina, the members (two sets of brothers) met through their high school girlfriends. Cedric and Joel Hailey (K-Ci and JoJo) and Dalvin and Donald DeGrate (Mr. Dalvin and Devonte Swing) came together and eventually decided to get serious about making music.

With combined skills in writing, producing, and singing, they made their way to New York where they were heard by Hip-Hip icon Heavy D. Heavy D talked to Uptown Records CEO Andre Harrell who heard them and decidedly signed them to the label.

The group made their debut on Father MC's single "Lisa Baby" but their own first single "Gotta Love" did not strike the right chord with audiences. They finally caught on with their first #1 R&B single of five, "Forever My Lady."

As one of the acts of Uptown Records, they helped redefine the label's image in the 1990s. Instead of polished R&B produced by acts such as New Edition and Boyz II Men- there was more of an emphasis on combining Hip-Hop and R&B.

New Jack Swing had caught on thanks to the help of other Uptown acts like Guy and Al B. Sure! but thanks to the influence of new and darker Hip-Hop, there was a push to take R&B even further.

Jodeci used the Bobby Brown template of bad boy R&B and added Hip-Hop swagger to create a more rough around the edges approach to their music. Sagging pants, backwards caps, and over-sized jerseys replaced suits, ties, and hats of previous generations.

But above and beyond that, Jodeci could sing. Lead singer K-Ci Hailey used his Pentecostal upbringing to help distinguish Jodeci from other acts at the time. And it worked. Their influence was almost immediate.

BET and MTV had their videos in heavy rotation. But what was most impressive was that they took to the mainstream through shows such as The New Mickey Mouse Club performing their own covers of these songs.

While Jodeci had several huge R&B hits that are now considered standards, they never had the mainstream appeal of Boyz II Men. This was mainly because they nor their label felt validated by doing so.

By 1997, even Jodeci was feeling the pull of a changed industry. Things were becoming slicker and more polished in Hip-Hop while R&B was staying afloat by going either mainstream via pop appeal or the Neo-Soul movement.

Their last album The Show, The After Party and The Hotel marked the end of an era. Brothers K-Ci and JoJo went on to have a super successful solo career with their own string of hits.

But by the early 2000s, they were gone as well. Drugs, alcoholism, and legal issues stood in the way of the group reuniting. Yet in 2009 the released a single "Knocking Your Heels" alongside fellow 90s group H-Town.

K-Ci and JoJo have since done a show on the TV One chronicling their recovery from addiction and there are tentative plans for the group to do another album.

Whatever happens, we at least have great memories and great tunes to remember them by.

Dido
Dido | Source

Here Without Dido

If you happen to be reading this across the pond, Dido is still enjoying alot of success. But for those stateside of us who remember her back in the days of "Thank You," we long for those soulful pop ditties to get us through the day.

Dido first came to the attention of the American audience when her song "Here With Me" was the the theme to the cult WB hit, Roswell. I did not even watch the show but that song gut stuck in my head quite quickly.

Even though she had been around in the UK for a while, it was our first taste of what she could do with a few chords and her trademark breathy vocals.

But one song completely took us away and then some. "Thank You" is quite possibly the sweetest love song to not explicitly mention love ever. Written for her fiance at the time, she somehow managed to take a song that sounded like a journal entry and turn it into a a hit.

And then Eminem turned it into a bigger hit by using it as the chorus for his now classic single, "Stan." Dido appeared in the video as Stan's long-suffering pregnant girlfriend.

After that she released another album, Life for Rent, which spawned the hit single "White Flag." After this, many of us stateside saw less and less of Dido.

What happened? She maintained international success but for some reason or another she was never as big as she was in the US. For me, I think it was again the curse of fickle American ears. When you're hot, you're hot and when you're lukewarm, it's as good as being cold.

Her style of music also appeals to a more Avant Garde crowd that does not always show up during the first week of record sales.

But her influence is clear when you see artists with unique vocals getting attention more and more in the mainstream. She also helped pave the way for future cross-pond crossover artists like Amy Winehouse and Adele.

Tevin Campbell's Landmark Album, I'm Ready
Tevin Campbell's Landmark Album, I'm Ready | Source

Can't Say Goodbye to Tevin Campbell

Before Justin Bieber came along, us 90s kids had a real child phenom on our hands. A guy who could truly sing and give us his heart and soul within four short minutes. Tevin Campbell had a dynamic voice that seemed misplaced for such a young kid.

And what was truly amazing about his reign was that his material was not only unique but his voice was definitely that of a prodigy.

His first album was released at the tender age of twelve but the soulfulness within his voice echoed a maturity and wisdom that was quite similar to Michael Jackson at the beginning of J5 mania.

Tevin Campbell was mentored and guided by Quincy Jones and also made his first appearance on the Prince soundtrack album for Graffiti Bridge(yeah, I didn't see it either, sorry Prince).

However, he continued to go through the 1990s releasing four albums. The most successful of which being I'm Ready released in 1993 which spawned four charting R&B hits, the most recognizable being "Can We Talk" which hit number one on the R&B singles chart.

Campbell became a household name making the rounds on BET's Video Soul and the now iconic Fresh Prince of Bell Air. His music was featured regularly on the Mickey Mouse Club performed by future superstars Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake.

Yet by the end of the 1990s, his career stalled due to lackluster songs as well as a run-in with the law. Campbell was arrested in the fall of 1999 for attempting to solicit a lewd act from an undercover cop.

Since then, he has not released or made an album but has definitely drawn a lot of interest from several fans. He has maintained a steady acting career portraying Seaweed in Broadway's version of Hairspray.

That being said, I am definitely hoping for a comeback. To me, he had one of the best and most dynamic voices of several generations but because of entering the entertainment industry at such a young age, he fell prey to the wrong material among other things.

But hearing him sing once will definitely leave you wanting more.

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Comments 50 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Boyz II Men...I never considered them square. At the NKOTBSB concert in Orlando last year the Boyz joined NKOTBSB on stage .... all three boy bands on one stage. My daughter a major BSB fan loved the moment!

I agree about Dido, we could use more of her hits on the airwaves. Jodeci was cool also! This hub is totally hip-hop!!:)


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Good choices here. I grew up mostly in the 90s (a little bit in the 80s). The videos were great, too. I always did like Boyz II Men...ah...memories. :)


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States

Hi Alecia! You share a great perspective on these artists. Jodeci had it going on with a really great sound. I hope they are able to make a comeback. If Charlie Wilson can do it, so can they.

As for Tevin Campbell, I always felt that what came upon him was a tragedy. As you mentioned, he had a really unique sound. I really liked his music. I am glad to know he is acting and hope that he can bring us more of his terrific voice.

I don't know much about Dido.

Great hub! Voted up, up and away!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I don't consider Boyz II Men square but in the R&B community they were considered a little too nice at the time they broke. I saw them for $1 my junior year at UNC and it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to.

I love Dido but I kinda think the Eminem collaboration was a double-edged sword. It made her huge but she never did top it.

And I'm hoping for Jodeci to come back as well.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Cyndi,

Thanks for stopping by. I love Boyz II Men and I'm glad they're still together as well.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Dexter,

I agree Jodeci can definitely come back but I think their issues with drugs and women clouded their talents.

Tevin Campbell's story is definitely a modern tragedy. But with his voice, I think people will forget about his past. We've seen so many great artists comeback against all odds like you said with Charlie Wilson and El DeBarge. Thanks for coming by and commmenting!


thebiologyofleah profile image

thebiologyofleah 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Cool topic for an article, so true that our ipods often take us back in time and have us thinking about an artist or band we haven't thought of in a while.

Great information here- I loved Tevin Campbell and agree he was gone too soon from the music scene but I think he's great for Seaweed in Hairspray.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

seriously...did not know these guys n their wonderful contributions to our society.

thanks for the enlightenment, Alecia.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Ruchira for stopping by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Leah,

I wish I could see him in Hairspray, that would be awesome. Yeah, some artists disappear and it's not like they've died, they just peaked way too early. Thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

OMG, I'm really old because I don't recognize any of these performers. Your adding videos is a helpful intro to their talent. Voting this Up and Interesting.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

It's okay alocsin, I'm glad I can help keep everyone's iPod's full.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Alecia...

Yeeeah...like alocsin...I don't actually know any of these folks but I will say that I certainly feel as if I have been properly schooled. Thanks! Voting Up and Sharing.

Thomas


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Thomas,

Thanks so much for commenting! I am glad I provided an education in music.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Great list! I think Dido is one of the most overlooked artists ever. I am still able to find some of her work but her song Don't Leave Home is just amazing. I think the best music came from the 1990's. I would love to see a hub on the best 90's Alternative Music. I love your music hubs!


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 4 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

What a great hub, Alecia!

My parents always put my music down. I promised myself I would not do that when I became a father in the '80s. It was one of the best things I did, for because of that I know of the artists in your article.

I liked both Dido and Tevin Campbell, but Jodeci was so great that I have them in mind for an article about my favorite covers with "Lately."

Thank you for the opportunity to read such a well written hub!


ROLEARY profile image

ROLEARY 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

Oh, Tevin Campbell. Alas, his career never fully recovered after that brutal acting performance on the Fresh Prince.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I agree the 90s had some of the best music Tammy! And I never understood why Dido faded so fast in the states. I will definitely see what I can do with alternative 90s artists because I think they influenced alot of artists. Thanks as usual for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Tom!

I agree parents shouldn't put their kids music down because it only leads to arguments and friction.

I agree Jodeci's cover of "Lately" is pretty awesome! I will be very interested to read your cover hub! Thanks for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Roleary,

I think Tevin's problems started a while after Fresh Prince but bad acting does leave a scar. Thanks for commenting!


kimberlyslyrics 4 years ago

Always love your hubs

Dido is so under appreciated with talent like that

Thanks

voted way up!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Kimberlyslyrics,

Thanks for the support and the comment! I love Dido's talent as well and wish more people caught on to her!


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Oh yes Dido! I do wish she would come back, her voice was so unique and she had her own style about her. Psst when they disappear, where do they go? Good hub!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Christy,

I wish Dido would make a comeback in the states but I think it would take alot since she's been gone and now Adele's the official Brit of choice now. Thanks for coming by and commenting!


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 4 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Hi Alecia! My hub on cover songs is up complete with a link back to this article! Thank you for the inspiration!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Tom for backlinking to my article! I am glad you enjoyed this hub!


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 4 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Enjoyed it?! That's an understatement!

I'll see you around, my dear!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Tom!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Alicia, great hub - Dido has gone a bit quite over here now as well. Not really sure what she's up to these days. I enjoyed both of her albums, White Flag has great lyrics and is a great song I think.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Jools99! I didn't know Dido went MIA in the UK. She was so talented.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Another great hub ... I've not heard of Jodeci, but I do love Dido's songs.. there's far too much turnover of artists these days and very little longevity due to the way music publishers work.. I cant think of any modern legends who will last into the future... here's hoping they will.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks so much Docmo! I agree artists turnover quickly with the exception of a couple who know how to put in the right effort.

If you like Ne-Yo, you'll love Jodeci- they have great harmonies and sweet songs. You should check them out for sure!


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Okay, I'm not a fanboy at heart; but I really wish Dido would come back! Her music is definitely for all ages and all ears, in my opinion :) She's one of my favorite artists of all time. Come back, Dido!!!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Keith,

It's hard not to love Dido's music. There's no two ways about it! Thank you :)!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Savage Garden. They went their separate ways and failed. It would be nice if they reunited:)


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Savage Garden was sooo awesome! I think the singer does well everywhere but the States but it's hard to try and top Truly Madly Deeply and I Knew I Loved You. Maybe they'll reunite!


Sharkye11 profile image

Sharkye11 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Great hub! I loved the diversity you mention from the 90's. For the briefest time, you were cool no matter what style you listened too, which was great. We were even encouraged to listen to older music. In the 90's "old" music meant anything back to the 40's. Now "old" is anything over two years old.

I first heard Dido on the soundtrack to Love Actually, and later I fell in love with "White Flag". I'm glad to hear she is still around somewhere besides my iPod!

There were so many great groups and singers that just disappeared from that generation. Like "Sister Hazel" and all the great swing groups.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Sharkye11,

I agree that the 90s seemed to be one of the prime times of music for any fan of a genre. Now unless it's guaranteed to crossover and/or chart, it won't get played. I feel bad for rock and pure R&B fans because everything now has to be mixed with pop or rap to sell.

I loved Dido's music but I think she made the mistake of taking too long to come back- at least in the states.

It is interesting how many 90s acts up and disappeared.

Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


easyguyevo profile image

easyguyevo 3 years ago from Barbados

Love Dido. First heard on smallville........ fell in love


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi easyguyvevo,

I definitely miss hearing Dido's voice too. I first heard her on Roswell and even though I didn't watch the show- I thought the theme she did "Hear With Me" was awesome.


IslandBites profile image

IslandBites 3 years ago from Puerto Rico

I really like Dido. Nice hub.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi IslandBites,

I feel the same way. Dido's voice is so pure and lovely. Thanks for coming by!


vandynegl profile image

vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

My hubby and I are tied to the 90's era music....Bush, Live, Nirvana, as well as Dre, Ice Cube, and Coolio! Oh, and even the country was better....Alan Jackson, faith hill. It just all seemed really good then!! Good hub!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia

Hello Alecia, This was certainly a well crafted article on musicians that you felt made an impact but that couldn't sustain the popularity or the artistry. I suppose each decade has its share of artist whose flame (fame) burns brightly but then flickers out. They show such promise and freshness with their style and talent and then they're gone.

I am not familiar with Dido. You've written so convincingly about her talent that I am now going to look further that the video you shared with us.

Thanks for an informative piece. Voted up.

Take care.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Vandynegl,

I agree 90s music is very special. I grew up in that era but even now many of those songs I love still hold up. And I think each genre had special appeal to it as well. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Cyndi10,

I agree- each decade has artists that flame out and it's not for lack of talent, it usually has to do with something to do with management or personal issues.

I think you'd enjoy Dido she has the perfect music for a Sunday or anyday- her voice is so sweet and gentle. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!


My Mind Speaks profile image

My Mind Speaks 3 years ago from Long Island N.Y

Wow, I'm in a time warp (an amazing one at that!) They just don't make music like they used to anymore. I feel like the new generation's music lacks feeling and it's all about "showing off" and about "your status." 90's music was about the struggles, sorrow, pain, love and hate (real stuff.) People weren't afraid to talk about their inner feeling's. I mean of course we had our flashy songs (Mase & Puff Daddy) but there was overall a genuine emotional connection to artist & songs. I miss how music was in the 90's, however I'm grateful that I got to be a part of and witness and incredible time in the history of music. Thanks so much for this awesome hub!


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi My Mind Speaks,

I agree. It's hard to find music that you connect so deeply with nowadays. There are a few artists who do it well but not many. To me the 90s was the last truly diverse era of music with all genres being graciously represented. Thankfully there was so much good music going around it lasts a lifetime. Thanks for coming by and commenting!


easyguyevo profile image

easyguyevo 3 years ago from Barbados

I meant Roswell not smallville sorry about that.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

That's okay. thanks easyguyvevo!

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