New Jack Swing Hall Of Fame:
Boyz II Men
Formed at the Creative and Performing Arts High School of Philadelphia in 1988, Nathan “Alex Vanderpool” Morris, Wanya “Squirt” Morris (no relation), Shawn “Slim” Stockman, and Michael “Bass” McCary performed together as Unique Attraction, along with a fifth member named Marc Nelson. Around 1990, the group performed an a capella version of New Edition’s “Can You Stand The Rain” backstage at a Club MTV concert for Michael Bivins, Paula Abdul, Keith Sweat, Cherelle, and Kid’N’Play.
Michael Bivins in particular was impressed with what he heard; he gave Unique Attraction his phone number, and three months later finally returned their calls to set the project in motion. It is not clear when Marc Nelson left Unique Attraction, but by the time they had transformed into Boyz II Men and released Cooleyhighharmony in the spring of 1991, there were only four.
(Marc Nelson would later join Az Yet from 96-97 before embarking on a modest solo career) Boyz II Men practically ruled the Pop and R&B charts during 1991 and 1992 with the songs “Motownphilly,” “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye (To Yesterday),” “Uhh Ahh,” “Please Don’t Go,” and especially “End Of The Road” from the Boomerang soundtrack. “End Of The Road” was the first single to break Elvis Presley’s record of weeks at #1; it remained in the top spot for #13 weeks.
Editor’s Note: Although Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” would top Boyz II Men with a #14 week stay atop the charts months later, Boyz II Men would reclaim their throne along with Mariah Carey. Their 1995 duet “One Sweet Day” would top the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks, and still holds the record.
By 1993, Boyz II Men had released their Christmas Interpretations album, as well as a hit remake of “In The Still Of The Night” by the Five Satins. Then in the summer/fall of 1994, Boyz II Men returned with “I’ll Make Love To You” which tied Whitney Houston’s #14 chart-topping record. Boyz II Men hit their commercial peak with II, which also featured the hits “On Bended Knee” and “Water Runs Dry.”
In 1996, Boyz II Men began to have disputes with Motown when they released a remix album without the group's consent. In '97 they released Evolution, their final album with Motown. In 2000, Boyz II Men signed with Universal Records and released, Nathan, Michael, Shawn, Wanya, which didn't perform very well on a commercial level.
By the start of the new millennium (two albums since II), the popularity of Boyz II Men had diminished substantially in the wake of the groups like the Backstreet Boys and *Nsync, but perhaps with a little dose of re-invention, Boyz II Men may be able to stage a comeback. Boyz II Men will always be able to rest knowing that they were the most legendary Pop/R&B group of the 1990s; besides Elvis Presley and the Beatles, they are the only musical act to have two back-to-back #1 singles (“I’ll Make Love To You” & “On Bended Knee”).
Boyz II Men released Full Circle to modest fanfare in late 2002. After parting ways with Arista in 2003, the group released Throwback, Vol.1 - an accapella album of covers in 2004. This was followed by a tour, and follow-up album, The Remedy in 2006. In 2007, Boyz II Men signed with Decca Records and released Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA which featured production by American Idol's Randy Jackson in late 2007.
Boyz II Men has maintained a relatively consistent presence in the concert ciruit and are expected to release new material in 2009.