Whatever Happened To New Kids On The Block?

The 1980s weren't all about big hair, spandex, synthesizers, gratuitous saxophone solos, and the likes of Chicago and Genesis going full-on pop. It was also a good decade for teen idols in music, and few, if any at all, were bigger than New Kids on the Block. About a decade before Lou Pearlman made stars out of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, promoter Maurice Starr — the same man who discovered New Edition in the early '80s — took five teenage boys from Boston and transformed them into superstars (via Biography). Just as you can expect from a popular boy band, NKOTB had a knack for cranking out up-tempo earworms and tender love ballads alike, though they weren't afraid either of veering into harder-edged, almost pop-rock territory ("Hangin' Tough") or recording songs reminiscent of late-period Beatles or Electric Light Orchestra outtakes ("Tonight").

As the mid-'90s approached, the hits weren't as big as they used to be — NKOTB's usual audience of teenaged or pre-teen girls had largely grown up, and the music scene was becoming less and less favorable to wholesome, inoffensive groups that catered to such fans. Shortly after the end of the band's Face the Music tour in 1994, Jonathan Knight quit the New Kids, and it wasn't long before the rest of the group decided to call it a day. But what happened to New Kids on the Block — both the band and its individual members alike — in the years that followed?

They reunited in 2008 and are still going strong to this day

In 2008, some 14 years after New Kids on the Block disbanded, Donnie Wahlberg told the Boston Herald that he and his bandmates were indeed reuniting, with plans to go on tour and record new music. "I had no interest going out on a nostalgia tour and singing the same material," Wahlberg said, also assuring longtime fans that NKOTB will be performing their big hits from back in the day. The comeback album, simply titled "The Block," was released later that year, going all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Three years later, the group teamed up with the Backstreet Boys and went on the NKOTBSB Tour, which Billboard ranked as the 17th most successful tour of 2011.

Aside from those high-profile tours, New Kids on the Block also kept making new music, releasing the album "10" in 2013 and the EP "Thankful" in 2017, both of which also performed well on the album charts. Most recently, the band appeared at the 2021 American Music Awards alongside fellow Beantown boy band New Edition (via Rolling Stone), as both groups performed a medley of their greatest hits in what was dubbed the "Battle of Boston." Talk about major '80s kid nostalgia!

Donnie Wahlberg and Joey McIntyre are now successful actors

When talking about New Kids on the Block members who have enjoyed a lot of success after the group's heyday, Donnie Wahlberg immediately comes to mind. For 12 seasons and counting, he's played the role of Detective Danny Reagan on the CBS police procedural/family drama "Blue Bloods," where he stars alongside Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynahan, and Will Estes, among others. A look at his IMDb page also reveals that he's also starred in a number of movies and guested on quite a few TV shows, where he oftentimes plays some sort of law enforcement officer. It's safe to say that much like his younger brother (Marky) Mark, the onetime "bad boy" of NKOTB has proven to be a great fit for the world of acting.

In the years immediately following New Kids on the Block's mid-'90s disbandment, Joey McIntyre had a modestly successful solo singing career, though technically, he can be considered a one-hit wonder of sorts — "Stay the Same" peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999, but this turned out to be his only Top 40 single. And while he did star as a fictionalized version of himself (with Wahlberg and his wife, Jenny McCarthy, doing the same) on the short-lived 2017 sitcom "Return of the Mac," he's done most of his acting on stage, with theater credits that include "Tick, Tick...BOOM!" and "Wicked." According to The Boston Globe, he and his family even moved from Los Angeles to New York in 2018 so that he could focus more on his Broadway career.

Jordan Knight left social media one year after making some controversial comments

Similar to Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight became a one-hit wonder as a solo artist, as 1999's "Give It To You," which also reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, is his only solo single to crack the pop charts. While he's nowhere near as active outside of New Kids on the Block as McIntyre and Donnie Wahlberg are, Knight got some attention when he spoke to Boston Magazine in 2020 about how life has been for himself, his wife, and their sons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Around that same time, he also found himself embroiled in a bit of controversy when he defended Donald Trump after the then-president made comments about the pandemic that were perceived to be racist (via NKOTB Blog). 

"To twist, distort and magnify everything into a racist story is racist, exploitative and devisive [sic] on the media's part," read one of Knight's tweets. "[Trump] saying 'ask China' to a reporter who is Asian is not racist unless you are viewing everything through a racial lens." In another tweet, he wrote, "Give me a break. Whatever you think of him, is fine with me.. I'm just calling out the blatant BS and narrative and spin of the media in this particular little exchange."

Close to one year after Knight made those remarks, the NKOTB singer quietly left social media.

Jonathan Knight and Danny Wood: A Farmhouse Fixer and a new grandpa as of 2019

Jonathan Knight, Jordan's older brother, was the first New Kids of the Block member to leave the boy band, as noted above, and he would later reveal to People that it was his frequent anxiety attacks that made him leave the entertainment industry and seek a quieter life as a real estate developer. In 2011, he was back in the headlines when he confirmed a series of rumors regarding his sexuality and wrote on the band's website that he had "never hidden the fact" that he is gay. He and his partner, Harley Rodriguez, got engaged in 2016 after dating for eight years and were supposed to tie the knot in 2021 before the wedding got called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Knight currently hosts the HGTV show "Farmhouse Fixer," where he shows off his expertise in restoring and renovating New England farmhouses.

Last, but not least, Danny Wood appears to be the band member who's living the quietest, lowest-profile post-teen idol existence. Speaking to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2015, Wood revealed that he had been based in Miami since 1998, where he's happy "living a normal life" as a divorced dad with four children, then aged 16 to 23. He also commented about New Kids on the Block, telling the outlet that he's "proud" of what the group is — a boy band that can afford to take an extended period of time off before reuniting. In addition, Wood happens to be the first NKOTB member to become a grandfather — per his Instagram, his first grandchild, Rose Elizabeth Wood, was born on August 14, 2019.