Everywhere they go, it seems, the four members of All-4-One bump into the legendary Spinners.
"Our paths have crossed several times," All-4-One member Tony Borowiak said in a recent phone interview. "They've been together over 30 years and have had tons of hits. We're definitely going to try to do something like that."
They're well on their way.
A year ago, All-4-One's platinum-selling, self-titled debut album (on Blitzz/Atlantic) featured the Top 5 a cappella hit So Much In Love and I Swear, which spent 11 weeks at No. 1 and was the year's best-selling song. (Atlantic says the Grammy-winning I Swear is the third most successful single in rock history.)
Their follow-up album, And the Music Speaks (released last week), contains the smooth I Can Love You Like That, which debuted at No. 27 . . . a career milestone for most acts, but its impact got lost in the shuffle of Michael and Janet Jackson's meteoric shot at No. 5 with Scream the same week.
For anyone who might think All-4-One is a studio creation, pawns of producers or nothing more than Boyz II Men clones, group member Delious will quickly set things straight.
"Nobody who has ever heard us sing live can really say that anymore," he said, "and if they do, they're just saying it out of spite."
All-4-One's story began in Southern California in 1993 when high school friends Borowiak and Alfred Nevarez met Jamie Jones in a recording studio to sing jingles for a radio station. They discovered similar backgrounds in church choirs and decided to form a vocal group. They auditioned a fourth member, Delious, whom they had remembered from a local talent show.
A producer Jones had met in church gave him a demo tape of several songs, including So Much In Love (a No. 1 doo-wop hit for the Tymes in 1963), and asked the group to learn the songs.
"The first time all four of us sang together was at Six Flags (amusement park)," Borowiak said. "We were singing So Much In Love and singing some Boyz II Men songs. You know how long those lines are for the rides, so we were just singing to pass the time away and everybody was listening to us. We had a real big crowd around us."
A few months later, All-4-One approached Blitzz president Tim O'Brien with their own demo tape.
"Nothing about our situation is normal," Delious said with a laugh. "Tim said, "If I could find the right group to sing (So Much In Love), I know it'll be a hit.' He had been looking around for someone to sing that song. He has a real ear for hits. And when he finally found the right group, that's why it happened so quickly for us.
"I wasn't even sure I liked the song in the beginning. But when it did as well as it did, I thought, "Well, what do I know?' "
On And the Music Speaks, All-4-One sticks to its winning formula of soulful ballads, sprinkling in a few upbeat numbers for good measure. And, for the first time, they joined forces at writing _ penning We Dedicate and Roll Call.
Sure, All-4-One is at the top, but it's all kept in perspective by their families.
"The way I was raised had a big influence on my life," Delious said. "There's no reason to change now. I've always been the way I am now, and selling lots of records isn't going to affect it.
"But, I'll tell you what, I don't think anyone could think up a better dream for four guys. This is a dream come true."
That dream has taken them around the world, from Paris to Malaysia. Surprising even to them, All-4-One members were mobbed during a tour of Spain.
"The fans there were unbelievable," Delious said. "They knew when we were coming into the country, where we were staying, whatever radio station we visited or whatever restaurant we went to. They knew when we were leaving. It was like, how do you know all this?!
"That's when you realize, geez, this is really big stuff."