Backstreet Boys

  • Vocal group/boyband formed in 1993 from Orlando Florida. The boys were (are) Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean, Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson.
  • McLean and Dorough met one another when they both shared the same vocal coach. They met Carter at a singing audition. They decided to form a trio when they realized that they harmonized well together. In 1992, record producer Lou Pearlman placed an ad in an Orlando newspaper, announcing that he was organizing a vocal group and that he was auditioning for talent. McLean was the first to audition, and he was quickly chosen. For several months, hundreds of young performers auditioned. McLean’s relationship with Carter and Dorough helped their success in making the cut. Three other original members were Sam Licata, Charles Edwards and Burk Parsons. Parsons quickly left to study to become a pastor, and Edwards left because of conflicts with Pearlman. Edwards was replaced by Richardson. After recording some demos, Licata left, thinking that the band would not be successful. Richardson called his cousin Littrell in Kentucky, and Littrell flew to Orlando to audition, and was the final member chosen, in April 1993. Pearlman named them Backstreet Boys, after Orlando’s Backstreet Market, a popular teen hangout. Their ages ranged from Carter at 13 years old to Richardson at 21.
  • Their first performance was at SeaWorld in May 1993, and they continued to perform at malls, restaurants and schools, gaining a fan base and looking for a record deal. They began to perform at schools across the country, and in February 1994 executives at a record company saw them perform at a high school in Cleveland. They were signed to a record contract.
  • At the end of 1994, the group flew to Sweden to record some songs, including We’ve Got It Goin’ On, which became their first single. It only reached #69 on the Hot 100 in the U.S., but it was a top 10 success on ten European charts. They decided to concentrate on the European market, and their debut album, the self-titled Backstreet Boys, was released in European and Asian markets in 1996. It was successful, receiving platinum status in many countries.
  • A second International release, Backstreet’s Back, was released in August of 1997, and simultaneously, a debut album for the U.S. market, titled Backstreet Boys, was released. The U.S. album was a compilation of songs from their first two International albums. The U.S. album release became one of the most successful debut albums of all time. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard album chart, and ultimately it was certified 14x platinum. Three singles from the album landed in the top ten of the Hot 100 – Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) reached #2, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) peaked at #4 and All I Have to Give reached #5.
  • In 1998, while recording their next album, the members of the group sued Pearlman, claiming that he was not properly distributing the earnings of the group. The suit was settled in 2000 (Pearlman ultimately ended up in prison for one of the biggest Ponzi schemes of all time – he died in 2016 in prison six years after a stroke). In 1999, the Millennium album was released. It was a huge success, topping the album chart and ultimately certified 13x platinum. The single I Want It That Way peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart as well as 17 International charts. Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely also reached #6 on the Hot 100 and was top 10 on 24 International charts.
  • Their next album, Black and Blue, was released in 2000 and was certified 8x platinum. The single Shape of My Heart peaked at #9 on the Hot 100. The band went on hiatus after the tour to support the album, reuniting in 2004 to record another album. After of year of recording, they released Never Gone in the summer of 2005. It showed a style change away from teen pop into more adult-oriented pop. While not as successful as their earlier work, it managed to be certified platinum. The following year, Richardson left the group “to move with the next chapter” of his life.
  • Backstreet Boys released two albums as a quartet – Unbreakable in 2007 and This Is Us in 2009. Both were modestly successful. In 2012, Richardson rejoined the group. Albums were released in 2013 and 2019. They toured throughout the 10s, and had a residency in Las Vegas from 2017 to 2019, with another residency planned in 2022.
  • They sold over 100 million albums worldwide, making them the most successful boy band of all time. They were the first group since Led Zeppelin to have their first ten albums reach the top 10 of the Billboard album chart. They are one of only 22 artists with multiple diamond certified albums. They’ve been nominated for eight Grammy awards, but have yet to win one. It’ll be interesting to see if they are ever inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – they became eligible in 2021. They’ve tried to avoid the moniker of “boy band,” preferring to refer to themselves as a vocal harmony group. It’s a reasonable conclusion – you could consider them more of a white version of Boyz II Men than a knock-off of New Kids on the Block. Nah….I gotta go with boy band. Here’s their video to their best selling single, I Want It That Way.

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