Boyz II Men

2014 Boyz II Men

By all official counts, Boyz II Men are the most commercially successful R&B group of all time. Three of their singles were the longest running number-one pop singles in history. They found their fame in slow, soulful ballads that harnessed the quartet's harmonies. But before the fame, the boys of Boyz II Men lived in Philadelphia and attended the High School of the Creative and Performing Arts. Founding members Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson had been singing together for years but were never able to keep a group together because their members kept graduating. But finally in 1988 they found Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary. They formed the vocal group Unique Attraction and performed at the Valentine's Day show for their school, where they performed covers as well as original songs. By 1989 they had their big break when they snuck backstage at a Bell Biv DeVoe concert and wowed Michael Bivins. Bivins offered them a deal right away.

Soon Nelson left the group because of personality conflicts and the now quartet changed their name to Boyz II Men. They entered the studio right away and recorded their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony. They called their fresh sound 'hip-hop doo wop'. The single 'Motownphilly' shot up the charts. It made it to number one on the R&B charts, and to the top five on the pop charts. The crossover hit sold platinum. The album also won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. In order to promote the album, Boyz II Men joined MC Hammer on tour in 1992.

Over the next few years the group concentrated on their concert career, but still found time in the recording studio. They recorded a new hit single, 'End of the Road', for the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang. The song spent 13 weeks at number one on the pop charts, breaking Elvis Presley's previous record of 11 weeks. Their next album, II, road to number one in the wake of the success of the band's previous hits, as well as on its own merits. Boyz II Men were the 'it' band of the decade. The singles 'I'll Make Love to You' and 'On Bended Knee' both made it to number one on the charts and had impressive stays and sales. After the success of their first two albums and numerous hit singles, Boyz II Men again concentrated on touring. They spent most of 1995 on the road in the US to promote II. They also decided to share their success and talent and recorded a few collaborations with other artists. Wanya Morris sang a duet with Brandy on the hit 'Brokenhearted'. The entire group joined Michael Jackson on 'History' and LL Cool J on 'Hey Lover'. Their biggest collaborative hit, however, was 'One Sweet Day' with Mariah Carey.

Boyz II Men left their deal with Motown Records in 1995 after the company released a remix album without the permission of the group. They signed a distribution deal with Sony for their new vanity label Stonecreek. The relationship with the new company was not perfect either, and it soured after their 1997 release, Evolution. The record debuted at number one and contained hit singles like '4 Seasons of Loneliness' and 'A Song For Mama'. The album did not share the success of its predecessors, only selling two million copies. Their promoting tour was also cut short when Morris began to develop a polyp on his vocal chords. He recovered fully in 1999, and the group again transferred their contract, this time to Universal.

Their next album was titled Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya and was released in 2000. It was more successful than Evolution, but still did not garner the praise of the first two albums. The Boyz did not give up on their former success, and in the summer of 2002 they released Full Circle. The album was true to its name and found its niche at the top of the charts.

Tickets to Boyz II Men concerts still sell like hot cakes. Their live shows are the one thing that never waned. Even when their sales were going down (and down for Boyz II Men was still extremely successful) their concerts were as packed as ever. The popularity and success of Boyz II Men will be hard to match in generations to come.


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