If you spent your adolescent to young adult years in the late '80s/early '90s listening to KDON, then you know exactly who Stevie B is.
Maybe you grooved to his hits "Party Your Body" or "Spring Love" at your sixth-grade dance. Or sang along to "Dreamin' of Love" or "I Wanna Be The One" during his shows at the long defunct Salinas nightclub City Lights.
Or perhaps you were one of many fans who proposed marriage with the strains of his No. 1 single "Because I Love You (The Postman's Song)" playing in the background.
"People call me now to renew their vows of 20 years and tell me the stories of how they named their children (after me), and what they were doing back (when my music was out)," said Stevie B., on the phone from his Las Vegas home. "I hear it all the time."
Stevie B and another popular '80s artist, Lisa Lisa, perform at the Freestyle Summer Fest Friday night at Sherwood Hall in Salinas.
The bill also includes opening acts Dan Grand and Daluzion, as well as DJs Bubba G. Scotch, Sir Elegance, Rich "Top Gun" Tapia, Roy Fashion, Oscar G. and DJ Madonna. "Hosting" the event will be Miss Brazil 2010, Carol Baumgartner.
Advance tickets range from $35 to $100. For information, visit www.freestylesummerfest.com.
Stevie B. broke out in 1987 with the dance hit "Party Your Body," a jittery, thumping mix of sweaty Latin horns and grinding Miami bass.
Over the next three years, he'd achieve Top 40 radio play, culminating with the No.
That hit topped the Billboard Hot 100 and adult contemporary charts in 1990 and 1991. He unseated Whitney Houston and Elton John on each chart, respectively.
"Nothing was like having knocked out Bette Midler, Whitney Houston, Elton John. You find yourself up there in the atmosphere of the top players," he said. "It was a new place for me. It was free possibilities and it let me see my skills could take me to those heights. It was great.
While the ballad would be his signature hit, it came at a price. Without getting into details, Stevie B. said the song's success revealed the dark side of the music industry.
He estimated that he was cut out of $50 million in song profits and royalties due to greedy label management.
He's stayed relevant by performing on the club circuit and with fellow freestyle musicians. Artists like Trinere, TKA and Johnny O have carved a niche on the club and festival circuit.
"A lot of us are blessed to continue. It seems like the genre is just getting stronger," he said. "You would be surprised at the youthful faces that are in the audience, from 10-year-olds to 21-year-olds, all the way up to 55- to 60-year-olds. This thing has transitioned into something that has passed on to a couple of generations so far."
His career has carried on, but troubles have lingered.
In September 2011, he was reportedly hauled off stage and arrested during a Massachusetts performance. It was reported he owed more than $400,000 in child support.
It was later reported he agreed to pay a little more than $1,400 a month in child support. He was released from jail soon after the agreement.
TMZ was among the media outlets who reported the incident. Stevie B. said he was upset that the celebrity news show did not do a follow-up report.
"When it came out that I didn't owe $400,000 (in child support), no one went back and tried to unring the bell for me.
Now free of the burdens of that case, Stevie B. is focused on his music. He's eager to return to the Central Coast, a place that has shown him love for two and a half decades.
"That area has always been a strong supporter of Stevie B. They accepted me into their hearts in that community," he said. "The role they've played is they've shown the music that was being created in that time period has become legendary in that culture. It was a part of their life, their culture, their upbringing."
Singer Lisa Lisa and her band Cult Jam emerged out of the New York City freestyle scene in the 1980s to enjoy pop music success.
The group's first single "I Wonder if I Take You Home" was a hit on the Billboard R&B charts. Subsequent pop hits included "Head To Toe" and the Billboard No. 1 single "Lost In Emotion."
But in the freestyle genre, her greatest contribution is the frenetic "Can You Feel The Beat." At nearly seven minutes long, the song practically defined the genre's template of eerie synthesizer keys, love lorn lyrics and pulsing drum machine kicks and snares.
Local radio host DJ Kazzeo had followed Lisa Lisa's career since the beginning. Kazzeo hosts the Club Wreck show Thursday nights on 90.9 KHDC. It's billed as the only radio show dedicated to freestyle music on the West Coast.
"Lisa Lisa is a real rarity in the Freestyle genre," Kazzeo said. "She went beyond just freestyle and cemented her name in pop culture with her '80s hits that have been publicly credited as inspirational to many (popular) artists, specifically Gwen Stefani & Fergie."
Kazzeo cited her acting credits on everything from the Nickelodeon network to NBC's "Law & Order" as proof of her wide-ranging talents.
He's interviewed Lisa Lisa several times over the years. He described her as an engaging and accessible personality.
"(That) has made her loved and revered by freestyle fans worldwide," he said. "When you come to see a Lisa Lisa show, you know it's gonna be a damn good one."
Marc Cabrera can be reached at email@example.com. GO!
What: Freestyle Summer Fest with Stevi B and Lisa Lisa
Where: Sherwood Hall, 940 N. Main St., Salinas
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10
Tickets: Advance tickets range from $35 to $100, available at www.freestylesummerfest.com
Information: (323) 788-5699, www.freestylesummerfest.com
What: Freestyle Summer Fest with Stevi B and Lisa Lisa