Boyz II Men Biography

About the most successful R&B group of all time

Boyz II Men is the most commercially successful R&B group of all time. They've sold millions of records and produced three of the longest-running No. 1 pop singles in music history. The pioneering R&B group is known for their flawless blend of four-part harmonies, and their influence is still felt to this day.

Formation:

Boyz II Men formed in 1988 at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson founded the group, originally known as Unique Attraction. Other members came and went due to graduation, but Morris and Nelson eventually met Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary, and the group stabilized. They took inspiration from the popular R&B group New Edition and renamed themselves Boyz II Men after their song "Boys to Men."

They got their big break in 1989 when they snuck backstage at a concert to sing for New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe member Michael Bivins. They sang an a cappella rendition of the New Edition song "Can You Stand the Rain." Bivins was impressed and agreed to help them get signed. Marc Nelson left the group not long before they started working on their debut album, allegedly due to personality differences. Boyz II Men became a quartet - with Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman - that would soon find international fame.

Early Career:

Bivins helped produce Boyz II Men's first album, Cooleyhighharmony, on Motown Records in 1991. The new jack swing style was characteristic of Bell Biv DeVoe's music, but Boyz II Men's classic, soulful vocals offered something different that was eventually dubbed "hip hop doo wop."

Since the very beginning, Boyz II Men has featured all members equally as lead vocalists, going against the typical R&B group set up of one lead singer/frontman and a handful of nameless backups.

Their arrangement became a sort of trademark for the group.

Cooleyhighharmony was a major success, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and winning them a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The singles "Motownphilly" and "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" both became No. 1 R&B hits. The following year they embarked on MC Hammer's 2 Legit 2 Quit tour as the opening act.

Commercial Breakthrough:

After their debut, they abandoned the new jack swing style to focus on creating a more mature, pop-infused sound. They released the wildly successful single "End of the Road" in 1992. The song spent a record-breaking 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the year's most popular song. Just like that, Boyz II Men has transformed from R&B up-and-comers to mainstream superstars.

In 1994 they released II, which sold more than 12 million copies in the United States and became one of the decade's best-selling albums. It also earned them two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for the No. 1 hit single "I'll Make Love to You."

1990s:

They continued to develop their sound throughout the '90s and collaborated with successful mainstream artists like Babyface, Michael Jackson, LL Cool J and Mariah Carey.

Their song with Carey, "One Sweet Day," spent a whopping 16 weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts.

Despite the group's objections, Motown decided to cash in on their success with the release of The Remix Collection in 1995. They retaliated by signing a distribution deal with Sony, not Motown, for the group's own label Stonecreek. Not surprisingly their relationship with Motown soured, and their career was never exactly the same. 1997's Evolution gave them another platinum single with "A Song for Mama," but the album only sold 2 million copies. With 2 million sold, it was still a significant success, but it didn't reach what the group was capable of achieving at the time.

2000s:

Boyz II Men took control of songwriting and production for their next record, 2000's Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya. Though it was met with much better reviews than Evolution, it was evident that the group's popularity was in decline.

The signed with Arista Records in 2002 and released Full Circle that year.

In 2003 Michael McCary left the group due to scoliosis, which prevented him from participating in many of their dance numbers. Full Circle's disappointing sales led to Arista ending their contract with the group that year, putting the remaining three members, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman, on a hiatus.

They returned with Throwback, Vol. 1 in 2004, a collection of R&B and soul covers, and released their seventh studio album, The Remedy, in 2007. It was available only through their website. They teamed up with "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson to produce 2007's Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA and 2009's Love. Both were cover albums.

Today:

Boyz II Men issued Twenty in 2011, named after their 20 years in the music industry. The two-disc album contains 13 original songs and eight rerecorded classics. In 2013 they announced a joint tour with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees and announced a performing residency at the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

They released their 11th album, Collide, in 2014.

Legacy:

Boyz II Men was instrumental in bringing R&B back to the mainstream, where it had not appeared since the '70s. With a staggering 60 million albums sold worldwide, they hold the distinction of being the best-selling R&B group of all time. For more than 20 years they have created a catalog of massively successful songs known for rich, smooth harmonies and timeless subject matter.

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