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2021 Soul Train Awards - Arrivals

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Singer/songwriter El DeBarge who formed the ’80s group DeBarge with his siblings, was arrested over the weekend on drug and weapons charges.

TMZ first reported the arrest. On Sunday, DeBarge, 61, was spotted by police at a gas station in Burbank, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, driving a car with expired tags. When police drew closer, they saw an expandable baton in the car, which is illegal in the state.

That led police to search the vehicle, which turned up pepper spray and a narcotic, which authorities say is heroin, per the TMZ report.

Though DeBarge was arrested on charges including possession of a leaded cane or baton, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia, he posted the $25,000 bond. He is due for a court appearance in March.

DeBarge and his siblings, including brothers Tommy and Bobby, who formed the ’70s group Switch, experienced success with their second album, All This Love, in 1982 and subsequent releases, In a Special Way and Rhythm of the Night. The Motown group was originally formed with El, Bunny, Randy, and Mark but James, Bobby, and Chico eventually joined as well. DeBarge was a staple of Black radio through the ’80s, experiencing a huge pop hit with “Rhythm of the Night.”

Switch In Gary, indiana

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Unfortunately, drug abuse and family friction led to a breakup. James famously had a short-lived marriage to Janet Jackson. El and Chico pursued solo careers that were somewhat successful, but the brothers and almost every member of the family struggled with drug addiction, as detailed in their Unsung episode.

The siblings, born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were the result of an interracial marriage. It later came out that their father, who suffered backlash from his marriage to a Black woman, took his frustrations out on his family, who were the subject of his verbal, physical and sexual abuse.

El made a “comeback” in the past decade, releasing an album, Second Chance, in 2010. He’s since appeared in DJ Cassidy’s “Pass the Mic” segments, and in 2020, was featured as part of NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) series when the artists recorded them from home during the height of the pandemic.