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Backstreet Boys

This group had started to be put together in 1993 when the singers AJ McLean and Howie Dorough met through a vocal coach in Orlando, Florida.  They were then joined by another singer, Nick Carter, after auditions and formed a trio.  The record producer Lou Pearlman advertised in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper in 1992 to invite singers to audition to make up a vocal group. The cousins, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell who had sung in church choirs in Kentucky also auditioned, Richardson had moved to Orlando in 1990.

Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean and Nick Carter were selected and Brian Littrell flew from Kentucky to join them in 1993.  April 20th 1993 became the formal beginning of the Backstreet Boys, whose name had been chosen by Lou Pearlman who had named it after the Backstreet Market in Orlando.

They gave their debut performance at Orlando’s Seaworld in May 1993 and went on to sing at various venues in Florida.  There was a change in the management in the autumn and they started to perform at schools throughout the United States.  There was a possibility to sign with Mercury Records but after that fell through they managed to sign a contract with Zomba/JIVE Records in February 1994.  They flew to Sweden in December of that year to record and released their first single “We’ve Got It Goin’ on” in January 1995.  It was their first taste of success when it reached the Top 5 in the charts of several countries in Europe, although only reaching No. 69 in the US.

In May 1996 they recorded their debut album Backstreet Boys which was released internationally, excluding Canada and the United States. Canada released it later that year.   Although not gaining too much attention across the pond their popularity grew and grew in Europe with the single “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” gaining gold status in Germany and the album reached platinum status followed by being voted the top international group there in 1996. They also gained the Durchstarter Award (Best Newcomer) at the German Viva Comet Awards. The group embarked on a tour of Asia and Canada and the single “Anywhere for You” was the the last single released from Backstreet Boys in 1997.

In May 1997 their fourth single from their debut album, “Quit Playing Games (with My Heart)” which had only been issued in Europe, was released in the United States for their US debut album, also called Backstreet Boys, which had songs from their original and second albums.  The single reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and gained platinum status and the album reached No. 4 on the US Album chart.

Their second album Backstreet’s Back was released internationally in August 1997, except in the United States. It topped the charts in various countries in Europe with the singles “As Long As You Love Me” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” having the most chart success.  The ensuing 1998 tour was halfway through when it was postponed while Brian Littrell had open-heart surgery for a hole in his heart to be treated.  Also in 1998 the band debuted in Latin America at a song festival in Chile and later that year in October they were  honoured by being presented with the keys to the city of Orlando after they had headlined at a tornado relief concert and having the day named Backstreet Boys Day.

Littrell claimed that Lou Pearlman and Trans Continental had not truthfully declared how much the band had earned, i.e. the band getting $300,000 as opposed to the company getting $10m, and began a lawsuit in 1998.  In 1999 AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson also joined in the lawsuit and the result was several financial settlements being issued.  At the same time the lawsuit was going on they recorded their third album Millennium for it’s 1999 release and issued the single “I Want It That Way” in advance of the album which reached the top of the charts in more than 25 countries.  The album entered at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 selling more than a million copies in its first week and becoming the best selling album of 1999.  It remained on the chart for 93 weeks, sold more than 12 million copies and gained platinum status 3 times in the US alone.  More singles that saw chart success from it were “Larger Than Life”, “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” and “The One”.  The ensuing Millennium Tour covered 84 cities and 115 sold-out shows with a huge demand requiring extra dates to be added.   At the end of 1999 their current JIVE contract was declared null and voice and a new deal with JIVE was struck for $60million.

In the new millennium the band went to the Bahamas to write songs and recorded their 4th album Black & Blue in Sweden.  It was released in November 2000 and they promoted it internationally in several cities with the resultant DVD and board game titled Around the World being released in 2001.  The album itself became the best internationally selling album in a week in history with over 5 million copies sold.  The singles from it were “The Call”, “More Than That” and “Shape of My Heart”.

They embarked on the Black & Blue Tour over 5 continents in 2001 as well as singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl XXXV.  The tour was briefly stopped for a month in July when AJ McLean entered rehab for depression and alcoholism.  It resumed in August, however, but tragedy happened when their set carpenter, Daniel Lee, was killed in the 9/11 attacks.   The tour, however, continued until its finish in November.

Also in 2001 the compilation The Hits – Chapter One was released in the October and reached the top 5 of the charts in Canada, Germany, the UK and the US. It was certified platinum and the single “Drowning” which was a previously unreleased song achieved Top 10 chart status in many countries.

The group weren’t happy with their management company The Firm in 2002 and decided to leave, but Nick Carter remained with them to pursue his own career and released his own Now or Never that same year.  The group left him behind and started to recorded another album and they filed a lawsuit against JIVE Records’s parent company the Zomba Music Group for $75-$100m claiming that the label was promoting Nick Carter’s album rather than them.

Over the next couple of years the group got back together, after not appearing for nearly two years, and in 2004 went back to the studio to record their 5th album Never Gone.  The went on a small tour of Asia to promote them being re-united and then went to Mexico to do a small tour there.  In 2005 they released the single  “Incomplete”, prior to issuing Never Gone, which reached No. 1 in Australia, their first No. 1 hit there, No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 status in 13 other countries.  The album was released in June 2002 and debuted at No. 3 in the US and certified platinum.  Other singles released from the album are “Crawling Back to You”, “I Still…” an “Just Want You to Know”, which reached the Top 10 in the UK.  The ensuing Never Gone tour began in July 2005 in Florida and ended in 2006 in Australia.

Kevin Richardson decided to leave the group in 2006 to concentrate on other interests, but it was amicable and the rest of the group said he could return if he ever wanted.  Although there were offers to find a replacement for him they decided against the idea.

They recorded their 6th album Unbreakable which was released in 2007,  reaching No. 1 on the Japanese Oricon weekly album chart and debuting at no. 7 on the Billboard 200.  The two singles released from it were “Helpless When She Smiles” and “Inconsolable”.  The ensuing world tour began in Tokyo in February 2008 and in November, at the last show in Hollywood, on the US part of the tour, they were rejoined by Kevin Richardson.

In 2009 they released This Is Us which reached No. 2 in Japan and debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200.  It produced the singles “Bigger” and “Through My Heart”.  During the promotion of the album they had to cancel events due to Brian Littrell catching swine flu so the rest of the group being prescribed with flu prevention medication.  In late October of that year they began the This Is Us tour which continued for more than a year.

Into the 2010s and they announced they were leaving JIVE Records in 2011 and almost at the same time went on a tour as NKOTBSB with the previously successful New Kids on the Block.  The international tour lasted until 2012, once again joined by Kevin Richardson in Los Angeles and previously in the Bahamas as part of the group’s second annual cruise. It ended up being given the 17th spot on the “Top 25 Tours” by Billboard magazine.

Kevin Richardson officially rejoined the Backstreet Boys permanently in 2012 at a show in London.  They moved into a house together to work on the next album and in August of 2012 closed the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series in Central Park, New York.  The first single they released with all the members being back together was “It’s Christmas Time Again” in November 2012, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Holiday Digital Songs chart.

They celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2013 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  They then started their 20th Anniversary world tour, which lasted over two years, called In a World Like This Tour, which was also the title of their 8th studio album.   The title track  “In a World Like This” was released as a single in 2013 but was only available digitally and on the radio.  The album reached the Top 5 in several international countries as well as Canada and the US.  The second single released in November 2013 was “Show ‘Em (What You’re Made Of)” and the documentary film Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of appeared two years later in 2015.  Also in 2015 Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell were inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and that same year Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and AJ McLean filmed the movie Dead 7 written by Nick Carter.

By April 2016 the group had signed a deal, to start the next year, for a 9-show “test residency” in Las Vegas with Live Nation.  In August of 2016 they released “God, Your Mama and Me” with the duo Florida Georgia Line, which was the group’s first return to the charts since 2007 when it entered the Hot 100 at No. 92.

In 2017 they began their Las Vegas residency with their show Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life, which ended up being 80 shows between the beginning of March 2017 and nearly the end of April 2019.

2018 came around and they released “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” in the May as a precursor of their 9th album DNA released on their own label K-BAHN and co-produced under RCA Records.  In the November “Chances” appeared and the album was officially released in January 2019 with the single “No Place” following.  In April 19 they released an exhibit of their tour outfits and childhood memorabilia at the Grammy Museum and later that month announced their next album would be their first Christmas holiday release. The supporting world tour began in May 2019 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it stopped in March 2020.  They had announced that they would sign up once the tour was over in 2022 but in the interim of the tour delay they worked on their Christmas album but had to reschedule its release until late 2022.  The tour was eventually scheduled to be resumed in June 2022 and ending in 2023.

Over the years the group, who have been performing for 30 years, has been the recipient of five Billboard Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards, two American Music Awards, a Juno Award and been nominated for eight Grammy Awards.  They have appeared in numerous TV shows and supported many charities.