Eugene Wilde was another in a string of briefly successful male soul crooners in the mid-80s. While possessing a solid, appealing voice, Wilde was generally stuck (sometimes self-imposed) with uneven, fairly one dimensional material that prevented him from achieving the kind of sustained success that was expected after his quick rise to fame.
Born Ron Broomfield, Wilde grew up in Miami and sang in a family group for most of his teen years, working under various monikers such as Tight Connection, La Voyage and Simplicious, and achieving some modest regional success.
He later changed his name to Eugene Wilde and in 1984 was signed by the small Philly World Records label. By then he had developed into a photogenic young singer with a strong, expressive tenor voice. At Philly World, he provided backup vocals for his underrated labelmate Cashmere, but more importantly wrote and recorded what would be his first smash hit, "Gotta Get You Home Tonight." Incredibly, it shot to #1 on the Soul charts and took Wilde's eponymous debut album into the top 20, despite the general mediocrity of the disc.
Wilde immediately recorded a follow-up album, the better Serenade, and released the single "Don't Say No Tonight" in late 1985. While the song also went to #1, it was a virtual knock off of his first hit, and hinted that he may not have staying power as a singer/songwriter. Interestingly, the disc's second single, the piano ballad "Diana," was much stronger, and demonstrated a musical and vocal depth generally not otherwise found in his earlier material. The album also included the fine midtempo number, "There's No Way," and the catchy electronic dance cut, "30 Minutes to Talk," which became a minor hit.
Strangely, Wilde never had another hit. As Philly World folded and he moved to MCA, his career hit a dead end. He sang with the group Cabo Frio in 1987 before releasing his next LP, I Choose You (Tonight) in 1989, and three years later released How About Tonight. Unfortunately, his recording career ended before he could cut a disc that didn't have the word "Tonight" in it.
Wilde now runs the independent label Wilde City Records in Florida and is also working with his son, Du'Juan, who has released the single "Girl Let Me." In 2008, Wilde began working on his "comeback" album, entitled Compositions. He released a limited number of copies but is currently developing it further for full release, hopefully in 2011. In the meantime, he has provided guest vocals on the new Cool Million album, Back for More (listen to video below).
By Chris Rizik