Viewers tuned into the NAACP Image Awards tonight at 9 P.M. EST will get a sneak preview of TV One’s Bobby DeBarge biopic, “The Bobby DeBarge Story,” set to premier in June.
The film, which explores DeBarge’s tumultuous life filled with sex, drugs and iconic music. As former lead singer of Switch and oldest sibling of pop group DeBarge, Bobby’s story shows the singer’s perilous life navigating fame, fortune, addiction and family dysfunction.
DeBarge was born in Detroit to Etterlene and Robert DeBarge, Sr. After playing in local bands with his brother Tommy, Bobby won a spot in Barry White’s background group in 1975 before releasing an album in 1977. A stalling career brought him back to Grand Rapids, where his family had relocated during the 70s. After forming Switch, Motown signed the group in 1977, a year before their debut album released.
Bobby’s burgeoning heroin and cocaine addictions eventually saw him leave the group in 1981. In 1988, after a lack of solo success and a few go-rounds with revamped DeBarge groups, Bobby was convicted on drug trafficking charges in Grand Rapids, receiving a five-year sentence. He died of AIDS in 1995.
“The Bobby DeBarge Story continues TV One’s tradition of telling the story of unsung music heroes. While our audience knows Bobby’s group, Switch, and his musically-gifted family, DeBarge, they may not know Bobby DeBarge’s contribution to creating the sound that changed the music landscape for decades to come,” said TV One Director of Scripted Original Programming and Production Karen Peterkin in a press release. “A falsetto master, Bobby DeBarge was a musical genius who battled demons of his own for many years. The Bobby DeBarge Story is the quintessential story of sex, drugs and rock and roll.”
Featuring Big Boi as Motown mogul Berry Gordy and Lloyd as Switch member Gregory Williams, The Bobby DeBarge story is directed by Russ Parr and written by Norman Vance, Jr.