Boyz II Men were formed in 1988 at Philadelphia’s High School of Creative and Performing Arts. Founding members Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson had been singing together for several years, but had trouble maintaining a group due to members graduating. However, things began to work out when they hooked up with Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and bass vocalist Micheal McCary. Originally calling themselves Unique Attraction, the quintet performed in talent shows at their school and developed a repertoire that leaned heavily on New Edition songs. Their big break came in 1989, when they snuck backstage at a Bell Biv DeVoe concert and wowed group member Micheal Bivins (former member of New Edition) with an a cappella version of New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain.” To which, they were offered a deal right on the spot; however, Marc Nelson could not continue with the group due to personality conflicts.
Down to a quartet, Boyz II Men entered the studio to record their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony. Backed by the new jack production, they dubbed their sound “hip-hop too wood,” though as a vocal harmony group they were more indebted to R&B of the ’60s and ’70s. The Cooleyhighharmony, released in 1991, produced their first single, “Motownphilly,” the uptempo dance track that rocked up the charts, going from Top Five on the pop and number one on the R&B charts. The single “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” a cover of a song from the film Cooley High, also hit the pop Top Five and topped the R&B chart. Meanwhile, the debut album also won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.
Boy II Men continued to break records with records such as the single “End of the Road,” which landed number one on the pop charts and maintained that position for 13 weeks. The record made their second debut album II a hit and charted at number one with over 12 million copies sold. With the album came hits such as “I’ll Make Love to You,” and “On Bended Knee.”Due to medical issues the group began to fall apart.
Boyz II Men is considered on top the most commercially successful R&B groups of all time. They sold millions of records and were involved in three of the longest-running number one pop singles in history. Although Boyz II Men haven’t duplicated their early ’90s success, they have remained relevant as a touring act.