A momentous date in US chart history, as well as in the latter-day Motown story, arrived on 15 August 1992. It was the start of the road for ‘End Of The Road’, Philadelphia group Boyz II Men went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the epic ballad — little realising that it would still be there 13 weeks later, in a run that stretched from summer into late autumn, from August to November.
The song, produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface and co-written by the pair with Daryl Simmons, was composed for the soundtrack of the movie Boomerang, starring Eddie Murphy. With Boyz II Men due back on the road the following day, Reid and Babyface flew to Philly and recorded all of their vocals in three hours.
What a record-breaking session that was: the song’s 13-week run broke a chart longevity record that had stood since 1956, when Elvis Presley’s double-sided ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ spent 11 weeks at the summit. Boyz II Men’s achievement didn’t last long, as before the end of 1992, Whitney Houston had started a 14-week sequence at the top with ‘I Will Always Love You.’
Not to be outdone, two years after ‘End Of The Road,’ the Motown group themselves had a 14-week reign with ‘I’ll Make Love To You’ and then, incredibly, a 16-week span in 1995 as guests on Mariah Carey’s ‘One Sweet Day.’ Adding in their other No. 1 late in 1994 with ‘On Bended Knee’ (which ruled for six weeks), and one in 1997 with ‘4 Seasons Of Loneliness,’ Boyz II Men boast an extraordinary record of 50 weeks atop the Hot 100 with just five singles.
The group’s name, incidentally, was taken from one of their early inspirations. In their early days as a five-piece in 1988, they called themselves Unique Attraction, but would often cover the closing track on the Heart Break album released that year by one of their favourite groups, New Edition. It was called ‘Boys To Men’.
‘End Of The Road’ is on the expanded Cooleyhighharmony album, which can be bought here.