Kenny “G-Love” Greene, Clinton “Buddy” Wike, and Jeff Sanders — pka Intro — made their highly touted musical entry courteous of their eponymous 1993 debut album. This now classic effort spawned a succession of hit singles including their spot-on Stevie Wonder remake “Ribbon in the Sky,” and the group’s biggest hit-to-date, the stirring, “Come Inside.”
New Life, Intro’s sophomore project, followed a little over two and half years later. Although not as warmly received as that of their self-titled premier outing, the new record was still considered a success.
Lead singer, Greene, who wrote and/or produced most, if not all, of Intro’s earlier tracks, was also responsible for crafting songs for other artists — most notably Mary J. Blige’s What’s The 411? LP. He and his then musical partner Dave “Jam” Hall, actually tied with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year in ’93.
Sadly, Kenny Greene — whose very last appearance on wax was providing backing vocals for singer Tyrese’s 2000 track “For Always” — contracted AIDS, and eventually lost the fight on October 1, 2001, due to complications from the disease. He was only 32 years old.
BallerStatus.com recently caught up with the two surviving members of Intro to find out how they’re doing? Where they’ve been? And, what exactly they have in store for the coming months.
BallerStatus.com: To say that there’s been quite a few obstacles to overcome, since the masses have last heard from you all, would be a gross understatement. How have the two of you held up through it all?
Jeff: Buddy and I are both doing well. We have finally decided to give the fans what they’ve been asking for. So, with a new addition to the group, Quinn, we are preparing to do shows, and get back to recording.
Buddy: It’s been a real ordeal. Just thinking about the potential of the group and the “What ifs?” But, I’m a firm believer that Kenny’s good. We stayed tight right to the end, and he was still a strong brother. He will always be missed. I speak to his family from time to time, and it always seems like he just left yesterday.
BallerStatus.com: Do you remember that tragic day when you were first informed of Kenny’s untimely passing?
Jeff: The time I got the call I was out and about. I think I got the call from Buddy. I was shocked, and silent. I didn’t break down in tears, because I was prepared for the news to come one day. Um … I started thinking, “I wished I could’ve seen him before he passed.” I couldn’t take seeing him the way he was though. I wanted to remember him as the Kenny I knew — happy, always laughing, and cracking jokes. To see someone you worked with for many years, like that, was not a pleasant sight. So, a big middle finger to people who don’t understand.
Buddy: I had a strange feeling that whole day. There was weird things happening, like in a movie. First of all, there was a cricket in the studio that I couldn’t find, so I had to shut down the session. And then, when I went home, which mind you is a totally different location than the studio, I had a cricket in my house. I was like, “What in the world is going on here?” Then, yes, a little later, I got the call that he was gone. I had seen him the night before, and wasn’t sure how much more he could take. I was sort of relieved when he did make that journey home.
BallerStatus.com: Did you both know of his sexual orientation, which I believe has been reported as being bi-sexual?
Jeff: Well, to be honest, we didn’t know in the beginning. The rumors grew and grew. We didn’t question it, but Buddy and I wanted to know between the two of us, “Why is he hiding it?” I honestly felt, if he was open with us, at least we would have made sure he was taking care of himself better. Meaning, if he would have told us of his health issues, we would have made sure he was doing the right thing to stay healthy. Another thing that I felt was unfair was that I didn’t know he was living that lifestyle, while Buddy and I were defending something we had no clue of. Yo, real talk, I wouldn’t have cared if he was gay or bi-sexual. All I wanted was everyone to be healthy, and have a fruitful career in music. His dream lives in Buddy and me, and now that Quinn is in the group, one day he will understand the spirit of Kenny as well. Kenny was before his time, if you ask me.
Buddy: We had like one discussion about it, and that was it. It was just enough to get it out into the open. What grown men really sit around and talk about their sexuality? We had more important things on our minds. Go listen to those albums again. Nah! We didn’t sit around talking about what we were gonna do once we left the studio. It was all about what was happening in the studio, behind the mic, behind the boards, banging out songs.
BallerStatus.com: Was he sick long, or was his passing sudden?
Jeff: To be honest, Kenny got sick that year. Before that, he was never that sick.
BallerStatus.com: Where have you found the strength to continue on as a group?
Jeff: Overwhelming demands from old and new fans. So many recording artists and groups would say that they want an Intro record. It was very inspiring to know. So many people listen to Intro till this day.
Buddy: It’s not about finding the strength, because it’s been there. His passing made us stronger. There was extra strength. Let me remind you, this is not a group that was put together by some manager or record label. We were like family years before the first record hit the radio.
BallerStatus.com: Aside from dealing with your huge personal loss, professionally what have the two of you been up to during this musical hiatus?
Jeff: We both have lucrative positions. We both don’t care to mention doing what, and things are very busy, but great.
Buddy: Like Jeff mentioned, we’re both blessed to still be able to do the things that we love, and to make a good living. I’m married now, with three incredible boys. I’m in college full-time, and just trying to stay out of trouble. We’re the same ole dudes — ain’t too much changed as far as our character. We’ve never been the “Rah Rah” type anyway. We just laying back enjoying life. Come on over for a cook-out when you’re in town.
BallerStatus.com: Since Kenny is no longer here physically, and could really never be replaced either, how will the two of you capture that same magic heard on earlier Intro efforts?
Jeff: Well, just to remind you, we never, ever lip-synced or faked anything. Intro is a true vocal group, and what we brought to the table collectively can not be forgotten. With Quinn coming aboard, obviously that makes him qualified to work the position. We look for certain tones, and pronunciations when singing. We will still have the core sound of Intro, and have the great ballads of Nevelle Hodge, who produced “Ribbon In The Sky,” “Come Inside,” “Don’t Leave Me,” and “One Of A Kind Love.” As you know, those songs are identified as some of the great songs of the 90s.
Buddy: Of course, it won’t be that particular magic, but there are more tricks up our sleeve. We’ve been blessed with a strong foundation.
BallerStatus.com: How do you all feel that the new material either differs and/or compares sonically to other Intro releases?
Jeff: As I mentioned before the ingredients are still the same. Kentucky Fried Chicken changed CEOs many times, but the chicken still tastes the same, right? Look, it’s not that difficult to retain the essence of our sound.
Buddy: We’re just putting it down. Your ears will have to get in where they fit in. It’s all good.
BallerStatus.com: Are you all signed to a recording contract at this time?
Jeff: We owed Atlantic Records a couple of more albums, but finally got out of that situation. The new album will be either major or independent. I guess you won’t know until the release.
Buddy: It’s no longer about recording contracts anymore. It’s narrowed down to great songs and performances, and that we have. Check out your man, Hov, and his new situation [with Live Nation] is not with a record company. It’s gone on now to multimedia, and, yes, we have put ourselves into something pretty here.
BallerStatus.com: For someone who has not heard the new stuff yet, what would you tell them can be expected?
Jeff: All I can say is to expect what you would from Intro.
Buddy: I couldn’t say it any better.
BallerStatus.com: Are you all happy with the current state of the music industry?
Jeff: No one is happy with the current way the industry has gone. With the new CEOs and A&Rs, all I can say is, “They know not what they do.”
Buddy: I guess they are trying their best to get a handle on things. With all the new formats and all, it’s tough on a record exec to sit in on a meeting and explain everything that’s going on. It really hasn’t changed that much. Make hot music, and you have less worries.
BallerStatus.com: Outside of music, what other types of things do you all enjoy getting into?
Jeff: To be honest I’m a homebody, and private at times. Now don’t get it twisted, I love to go out. But, right now, that’s what I’ve been doing. You see, I’m not married, and I don’t have children. All I want is a sexy ass pretty wife, and maybe two children. That’s all I ask from God.
Buddy: Just looking around at all the beautiful things God has blessed me with — my Wife and kids. We are all baseball freaks, so with the warm weather we are always in the backyard turning it into a Yankees Stadium on any warm day that we get. As the weather gets hotter, we’ll head to the pool or beach. Our favorite getaway is San Juan Puerto Rico.
BallerStatus.com: To date, what has been your greatest career achievements?
Jeff: Being a part of such a great group, and to be able to appreciate the fans. I really do try to give back, and if anyone knows me — if I got it, you got it. Success is living.
Buddy: Yes. Having the opportunity to be a part of this organization, and having the opportunity to travel the world and do what I love.
BallerStatus.com: What do your future goals and/or aspirations entail?
Jeff: I tell people every time they ask me this, “Goals with me are accomplished, and then the next thing you know, a new goal is faced.” Just stay focused, and it all will come to pass. Without God, nothing’s possible.
Buddy: I’m a dreamer. My goals are too ill.
BallerStatus.com: As for the immediate, what’s next for Intro?
Jeff: We are gearing up to do shows. Mostly performing the old stuff, and eventually drop the new stuff. So, if anyone wants to book us, go to Myspace.com/AlwaysFocused, or our agent, Dino, [can be reached at] 718-568-8468.