On February 14th, 1991, Boyz II Men‘s debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, hit stores officially introducing the Philadelphia quartet to he world. The album was an instant success, thanks to the album’s lead single “MotownPhilly.”
Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Michael McCary captivated audiences with their flawless harmonies and dance moves. Each member of the group was given the opportunity to sing lead vocals on the album, a rarity at the time. Their vocal prowess was proudly displayed on the bridge of “MotownPhilly” which featured a vocal riff many singers, amateur and professional, tried to duplicate.
The “MotownPhilly” video debuted the group’s preppy look, dubbed the “Alex Vanderpool Era,” and also featured an early cameo appearance from a former classmate of the group at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, ?uestlove of the Roots who is seen playing drums in a bathroom. “MotownPhilly” peaked at number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, solidifying the group as one of the breakout groups of 1991.
The group followed up the success of “MotownPhilly” with an acapella cover of G.C. Cameron’s “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.” Cameron’s original version was featured in the 1975 film Cooley High. The song took on a deeper meaning for the group when their tour manager, Khalil Roundtree, was murdered in Chicago while they toured with MC Hammer. “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” was another number 2 hit for the group.
Cooleyhighharmony‘s third single was the steamy ballad “Uhh Ahh.” While the song shot to number one on the R&B charts, it stalled at number 16 on the pop chart.
Two more singles, “Please Don’t Go,” and “Sympin’,” but neither song managed to storm the charts like the initial three.
Though Boyz II Men’s debut was incredibly successful, there was nowhere for the group to go but up. Their biggest success came a couple of years later thanks to “End Of The Road,” featured on the soundtrack to the 1993 Eddie Murphy film Boomerang. “Road” stayed on top of Billboard Hot 100 chart for 13 weeks, beating Elvis Presley’s 36 year record. The group wouldn’t hold on to that record for long as Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You” held the number one spot for 14 weeks beginning two weeks after “End Of The Road” left the number one spot.
In 2009, Motown’s reissue department released an expanded 2 CD version of CooleyHighHarmony which featured the original album, plus several remixes and unreleased songs.