With four Grammys and over 60 million record sales worldwide, Boyz II Men solidified their place in music history long ago. Formed in 1988 at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, the group’s first single to reach number one, 1992’s “End of the Road,” went on to break a record for chart longevity, set by Elvis Presley (staying at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks). Three years later, the group surpassed their own record with “One Sweet Day,” a duet with Mariah Carey, which spent 16 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and is the longest running number one song in U.S. chart history.
Today, 20 years after releasing their first album, three of the four original members are still touring. So why haven’t U.S. audiences heard from them much over the last couple of years?
After spending more than a decade with record company giant Motown/Universal Music Group, the trio (Shawn Stockton, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris) signed with Japanese label AVEX in 2005 and recorded two albums for distribution in Asia.
Touring exclusively in Japan and throughout the continent for the last six years, the group has built a loyal fan base there. As news spread of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, the group launched a relief fund, hoping to rally their fans to raise $100,000 (at the time of this article, they had raised a little more than $30,000).
At a recent stop in Arlington, Va., where fans enthusiastically sang along to the old hits, group founder Nathan Morris held a moment of silence for the victims, survivors and their loved ones, and encouraged the sold-out crowd to “help those who can’t help themselves right now.”