Monday, October 2, 2023
HomeNewsTLC documentary, 'TLC Forever,' debuts June 3 on Lifetime and A&E

TLC documentary, ‘TLC Forever,’ debuts June 3 on Lifetime and A&E

First, R&B trio TLC was on fire, with a 1992 debut album — “Ooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip” — that went multiplatinum.

Then, the iconic girl group’s career nearly went up in flames.

In June 1994, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes — the resident rapper of the trio, which also included Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins — got into a vicious, violent fight with her then-boyfriend, former NFL star Andre Rison, that left her bruised and bloodied.

Her nails ripped from their sockets, Lopes sought revenge, starting a fire that torched his $1.3 million mansion in suburban Atlanta.

“News reports at the time were very much blaming Lisa as the crazy rapper who lit the house on fire,” says Thomas, 52, in the new documentary “TLC Forever,” which premieres on Lifetime and A&E on Saturday.

And as Lopes was arrested and indicted on charges of first-degree arson, the threesome took the heat together.

TLC was conceived as the female answer to Bell Biv DeVoe during the new jack swing era.
Getty Images

“[The industry] turned on us, like we all were arsonists,” says Watkins, 53.

But in the end, the notoriety appeared to push TLC even higher — later that same year, their second album, “CrazySexyCool,” proved to be a smash.

The blockbuster record — featuring the hits “Creep,” “Waterfalls” and “Red Light Special” — went diamond, selling over 12 million copies in the US, and turning the trio into pop superstars.

TLC would famously pose for the November 1994 cover of Vibe magazine in fireman uniforms. The headline: “Burning up the charts and burning down the house.”

TLC in 1992.
TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in 1992.
Getty Images

But even while becoming the best-selling American girl group of all time, the Atlanta-based act had to overcome health battles, abusive relationships and even bankruptcy — followed by Lopes’ tragic death in 2002 — according to the documentary.

Watkins suffered from sickle cell anemia, which caused her to spend the first seven years of her life in a hospital. Doctors told her she wouldn’t live past 30.

Still, she pushed through painful episodes to perform with TLC.

“It feels like someone is stabbing you over and over again in your joints with a butcher knife,” she says in the doc. 

Meanwhile, Thomas was in a relationship with the group’s producer, Dallas Austin, that led her to get an abortion at 20.

TLC at the 1996 Grammys.
After winning two Grammys in 1996, TLC announced backstage that they were as “broke as broke can be.”
Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

“After that, I probably experienced some kind of breakdown,” Thomas reveals in the documentary. “I couldn’t forgive myself. I just felt this tremendous guilt from what I had done.”

But Lopes’ romance with Rison was even rockier. “They had a toxic relationship,” says Thomas. “The only advice that I could give is ‘leave him.’” Lopes stayed.

After winning their first two Grammys in 1996, TLC announced backstage that they were as “broke as broke can be,” as Thomas put it.

Despite selling millions and millions of albums, they had gone bankrupt.

“We never had good business, unfortunately,” she says.

TLC in 1999.
TLC delivered their straight multiplatinum album with “FanMail” in 1999.
Getty Images

But the public was still hungry for more.

TLC’s hot streak continued with 1999’s “FanMail,” featuring the No. 1 singles “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty.” However, Lopes was starting to drift away from the group over creative differences. In fact, the rapper had been working on a solo album, “Supernova,” when she was killed in a car crash in Honduras.

She was only 30 when she died on April 26, 2002.

“Right before Lisa passed away, I was in the hospital for four months, fighting for my life,” says Watkins of her sickle cell battle. “That was the last time I saw Lisa, because she came to see me right before she went to Honduras.”

As the industry wrote off TLC — now reduced to a duo — following the subpar performance of 2002’s “3D,” Watkins’ health problems continued. In 2007, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

TLC's Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas
TLC’s Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas continue to tour and record as a duo today.
Dennis Leupold

“My doctor … said, ‘In case something goes wrong and I can’t save either your hearing, your face or your balance, give me the order that you want to save yourself,’” she says. “So they took my balance, I saved my face for the most part, and my hearing only lost 3% at the time.”

Years later, TLC would find their way back into the spotlight, mounting a comeback that led them to play their biggest show ever — at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival in 2022.

Watkins is proud that they “still are holding the torch” today, she says.

“Three little black girls from the hood [became] the biggest and the best-selling girl group of all time in America and still hold that title. We did that.”

source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments