The Backstreet Boys are a Grammy-nominated American boy band. They were the first group launched by boy band mogul Lou Pearlman, and have been together since April 20, 1993. They have had 13 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and have sold over 100 million albums, making them the best selling boy band of all time.
After returning to the music scene in 2005, their sound changed dramatically, incorporating only live instruments (some of which they play themselves) and a more guitar and piano driven pop rock sound. The four-member group consists of Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell and A. J. McLean. Original member Kevin Richardson left the group on June 23, 2006 to start a family, but the four-piece refused to rule out a possible return for the singer.
Beginnings and international successes: 1993???1996
Lou Pearlman was inspired by New Kids on the Block in the 1980s so decided to create his own clean-cut boy band. After a series of newspaper advertisements and auditions in 1992 and 1993, he recruited A. J. McLean, Howie Dorough, and Nick Carter who met each other in several auditions and became friends. Following the departure of three previous members, Burk Parsons (pursued a career in ministry), Sam Licata (later performing as Phoenix Stone) and Charles Edwards, Kevin Richardson came on board. He met the other guys through a co-worker, and the four decided to form a group, naming themselves after an Orlando flea market. The group took its final member on April 19, 1993, when Brian Littrell, Richardson's cousin, joined the group after a phone audition. Pearlman had spent around $3.5 million of fraudulently obtained money (he has been convicted of operating a Ponzi scheme during this time frame) on his search to form the group, and then spent more to launch their career.
Afterward Pearlman called on his friend Bob Curiano to be the first to write and produce for the Backstreet Boys. Their first two songs ever recorded were "Lover Boy", written and produced by Curiano, and "Get Ready", a cover tune. The hit, 'Lover Boy' was inspired by Ana Legen, Bob Curiano's, first teenage crush, later Ana came back into the picture when she became a short term girlfriend to Howie in 1995. Their first concert, on July 8, 1993, was performed for 3,000 teenagers at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Pearlman later booked them at grade-school assemblies and shopping malls, and assigned management duties to Johnny Wright and Donna Wright, who had worked with New Kids on the Block. Wright is often credited by industry insiders for being the man who actually made the Boys famous.
European popularity grew, and the Backstreet Boys kicked off 1996 being voted the No. 1 international group by TV viewers in Germany - "I'll Never Break Your Heart" went gold there and hit No. 1 in Austria. The group earned their first platinum record in Germany and toured Asia and Canada. They became one of the most successful debut artists in the world.
Breakthrough in the United States: 1997???1999
By 1997, pop music was returning to the forefront in United States with the likes of the Spice Girls and Hanson. Jive Records and Pearlman decided to bring the boys back to their home country. They began recording their second album in January 1997, Backstreet's Back, releasing "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" in June. They also recorded the song, If You Stay, for the Booty Call soundtrack in January 1997. Coinciding with the release of their second international album, the band released a self-titled album in the US which collected songs from both international albums. They hit big on the U.S. charts and debuted at No .1 in Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Finland and Austria. The two albums sold more than 28 million copies worldwide (14 million copies in the U.S.)
In December 1997, the band embarked on a 60-city, 20-country tour.
Littrell (soon joined by McLean, Richardson and Dorough) brought a lawsuit against Lou Pearlman, as he was taking an unusually high percentage of the profits made by the band (75 percent), leaving the Boys barely enough to survive after credits to writers and performers were given separately. The lawsuit also claimed that Pearlman had hidden and misused money earned by the band and prompted similar lawsuits from other prominent boy bands such as 'N Sync. The case was settled in 1998.
In 1998, Littrell underwent open-heart surgery in the middle of their sold-out US 39-city tour, at the insistence of his then girlfriend (and now wife) Leighanne Wallace; he had twice postponed the surgery in the past. He had been struggling with a heart murmur since he was born, almost dying at the age of 4 due to a bacterial infection. Shortly after, the Backstreet Boys cancelled an appearance in Minnesota after learning that Howie Dorough's sister had died of lupus. In September 1998 the group began work on their next album. In October 1998, the band received the keys to the city from the mayor of Orlando in honor of the tornado relief concert the group headlined in March that raised over $250,000.
On February 17, 1999, the Boys received their first Diamond award from the RIAA for shipment of 10 million copies of their self-titled album. At that time, they had hired a new manager team called "The Firm", famous for managing bands including Limp Bizkit and Korn. Along with their new management team, the Backstreet Boys sued Pearlman several more times, until he renegotiated the settlement on terms more favorable to the band. Executives of the Firm stated that the Backstreet Boys had bought out Pearlman's stake in the band.
Millennium and Superstardom: 1999???2000
Main article: Millennium (Backstreet Boys album)
"Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" Videoclip.
Work on Millennium began in September 1998, with recording taking place from October 3, 1998 to March 1, 1999 in multiple cities. A sneak preview of the tracks "The One", "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely", and "I Need You Tonight" was released on November 17, 1998 on the A Night Out with the Backstreet Boys concert video, as well as on the All I Have To Give U.S. single in December 1998. Preceded by the worldwide hit single "I Want It That Way", anticipation for Millennium was high. On May 18, 1999, Millennium was released. The day of the album's release, the Backstreet Boys made a heavily publicized appearance on MTV's Total Request Live. Millennium entered the Billboard 200 at #1, where it remained for 10 non-consecutive weeks. It sold 1,134,000 copies in its first week of release, breaking the previous Nielsen SoundScan record held by Garth Brooks for single-week record sales. Millennium sold nearly 500,000 copies in the U.S. on its first day alone, setting a record for first-day sales. This record was subsequently overtaken in 2000 by Britney Spears, and then again by 'N Sync with No Strings Attached. Four singles were released from Millennium: "I Want It That Way", "Larger Than Life", "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely", and "The One".
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Millennium became the best-selling album of 1999 in the U.S., selling 9,445,732 albums. Millennium remained on the Billboard chart for 93 weeks, eventually selling over 12 million copies in the United States and being certified 13 times platinum. As of the end of December 2008, the album stands as the fourth best selling album in the US of the SoundScan era. In 2003 it was also reported as being the fourth biggest seller for Music Club sales in the US over the past 14 years with sales of 1.59 million. In Canada, the album is seventh biggest selling album since 1995 in the Canadian Soundscan sales era up to end of December 2007. The album has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.
Impressed by the success of the Backstreet Boys, Sony BMG, which already owned 20 percent of Jive's parent company, purchased the remainder for $3 billion, the most ever paid for an independent record company. In the meantime, The Firm negotiated tens of millions of dollars in advance payments for recordings and performances from Jive and the concert promoter Clear Channel. Also by the end of 1999, the Backstreet Boys faced new problems declaring their current Jive contract null and void, soon striking one of the largest record deals ever valued at $60 million with Jive.
Black & Blue: 2000???2001
Main article: Black & Blue
In November 2000, the group released a new album, Black & Blue, with the idea of the title of the album coming from Brian as the boys were in Los Angeles for a photoshoot. To promote the release of Black & Blue, the boys traveled around the world in 100 hours to Sweden, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and the US; 55 of the hours were spent traveling and 45 were spent making public appearances. The album debuted with 1.9 million units sold in the first week in America, making the band the first ever artist to have two albums sell a million or more copies in the first week. Black & Blue had sold more than five million copies worldwide in its initial week, setting a new first-week record in international sales. Globally, Black & Blue ??? whose 13-song selection features six songs co-written by members of the group, including two written by all five Backstreet Boys ??? achieved platinum status in over 30 countries and gold certification in 10 regions around the world during its first week of release. In the first week of release, Black & Blue's first single "Shape of My Heart" was played on 170 out of 171 of the Top 40 stations in the U.S. Meanwhile overseas, the song immediately jumped into the Top Five in Sweden (#1), Norway (#1), Canada (#1), Germany (#1), Switzerland (#1), Austria and Holland (#1). The album has been estimated as selling 24 million albums worldwide .Towards the end of 2000, the album's second single "The Call" made the Top 10 in the UK and the third single "More Than That" made the Top 20.
In 2001, the Backstreet Boys kicked off the first leg of their "The Black & Blue Tour", in which they were to perform on five continents. The tour also had extremely expensive production costs. The tour was featured on a CBS TV special, The Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life. To coincide with the special, TV Guide issued six different covers of the boys: five individual shots and one group photo.
The second leg of "The Black & Blue Tour" was put on hold when it was reported that A.J. McLean had checked himself into rehab to battle alcoholism, cocaine addiction and depression after Richardson had held an intervention for him at a Boston hotel. The tour was postponed until September. In the September 11, 2001 attacks, a Backstreet Boys crew member, Daniel Lee, was killed. He had been using time off in the tour schedule to travel from Boston to Los Angeles to be with his pregnant wife. The death caused the cancellation of the band's plans for overseas tours. Despite the attacks in New York that day, the Backstreet Boys went ahead with a planned concert that night in Toronto.They released a video about them going Around The World This video was for celebrating Black and Blue You can see the clips posted here on Youtube
Also, in 2001, the Backstreet Boys performed the American national anthem, in front of an audience at the Super Bowl XXXV at the Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida.
In 2002, the band expressed a strong desire to leave their management company, The Firm. Nick Carter chose to remain with The Firm to manage his solo career. It became apparent that this was reason for their lack of resistance to the Backstreet Boys moving on and this unexpected move forced the band to take a break. Starved for a blockbuster album release, Jive, according to industry observers, had no choice but to bank on releasing Carter's solo album by the end of the year, ahead of the next Backstreet Boys' album, which was due in early 2003.
In 2002, Nick Carter's solo album Now or Never was released. The album peaked at #17 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Gold.
The relationship with Jive worsened when the Backstreet Boys filed a $75???100 million lawsuit against Zomba Music Group (Jive's parent company) claiming breach of contract. The group stated the label promoted Nick Carter's solo album Now or Never at the expense of the group who wanted to promote their fourth album. According to the suit, in November 1999, the Backstreet Boys revised their 1994 contract and committed to releasing two further albums for Zomba. In exchange for delivering them on time as part of a predetermined schedule, the group would receive multiple non-returnable payments that would serve as advances against future royalties.
In November 2002, Brian's wife Leighanne gave birth to the couple's first child, Baylee Thomas Wylee Littrell. In December 2003, A.J. McLean appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show where he talked for the first time in public about his addiction to alcohol and drugs, and his struggles rising to fame. The rest of the band surprised him by arriving in person to give him support, marking the first time the Backstreet Boys had appeared together in public in almost two years. The band began to reform and reconcile their differences to start recording a comeback album.
In 2004, the Backstreet Boys started performing together to promote their return to the music scene. In September they kicked-off a small Asian tour, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Manila. Based on the success of this tour, they announced a Mexican tour, visiting Mexico City and Monterrey and performing all new material. Renewed interest grew with the announcement of airing an hour-long televised documentary of the Backstreet Boys on VH1's Behind The Music.
Never Gone: 2005???2006
Main article: Never Gone
After a three-year hiatus, their single, "Incomplete", was released to radio stations on March 28, 2005. The album is named after a song on the album which mourns the loss of Kevin Richardson's father. The drastic style change drew negative criticism from magazines such as Rolling Stone, which gave the album one star.
On June 14, 2005, the Backstreet Boys released their comeback album Never Gone, which they spent more than a year recording. The album debuted at #3 on the U.S. chart with first week sales of 291,000 copies, and #1 debuts in Japan, Pakistan, Germany, India, Chile, Brazil and South Korea. In the same year, Brian Littrell's song "In Christ Alone" charted at #1 on the US Christian Charts. The Backstreet Boys began the first leg of their The Never Gone Tour in July in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was their first Australian tour.
Never Gone was certified platinum in the US and four singles were released from the album. Their first single was "Incomplete", the second single was "Just Want You to Know", and the third singles were "Crawling Back to You" for the US and "I Still..." internationally. Never Gone has sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. Backstreet Boys' second single "Just Want You to Know" hit the top 10 in the UK, but was not as successful in the United States. It was one of the group's weakest performing U.S. singles, only peaking at #70 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The third international single "I Still..." debuted at #1 on the Japan International Singles Chart with over 200,000 copies sold, making the first ever international single to enter at #1 on the chart in Japanese history. The third US single, "Crawling Back to You" peaked at #15 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.
In June 2006, Richardson left the Backstreet Boys to pursue other interests and "move on with the next chapter of his life." He issued the following statement on the band's website on June 23, 2006:
"After 13 years of what can only be described as a dream come true, I have decided that it is time to leave the Backstreet Boys. It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life. Howard, Brian, Alex and Nick will always be my little brothers and have my utmost love and support. I would like to thank the Backstreet fans for all the beautiful memories we have shared together and look forward to including you in the next phase of my life. I wish my brothers continued success and look forward to their new album."
Main article: Unbreakable (Backstreet Boys album)
The Backstreet Boys' sixth album includes various music styles, combining their earlier mid-90s dance-pop sound with their newer guitar driven pop/rock sound. Unbreakable, was officially launched on October 30, 2007. It was the group's follow-up to 2005's Never Gone and is the first effort since Richardson's departure.
On July 25, 2007, the first single was confirmed as "Inconsolable," a piano-driven power ballad similar to Never Gone's "Incomplete." It reached #21 on the US Adult Contemporary Charts, but managed only #86 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it performed well internationally, debuting #1 in Japan and staying there for another week.
"Helpless When She Smiles" was the next single to be released from Unbreakable. It only managed to reach #52 in the US Adult Contemporary charts and in turn failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
While the album had received positive reviews, it did not perform as well as its predecessor, Never Gone. Unbreakable opened at #7 on The Billboard 200, selling 81,000 copies in its first week of release. Two weeks after its debut, the album dropped out of the top 100.
The group went on a 45 date World tour to promote Unbreakable in Tokyo, Japan on February 16, 2008. Dates were confirmed for the tour being titled the Unbreakable Tour in Australia, Japan, Mexico, UK, Europe, Asia, Canada and The United States. The group kicked off their North American tour on July 29, 2008 in St. John???s, Newfoundland, Canada and was originally scheduled to wrap up in Redmond, WA, USA on September 6. They recorded a tour DVD in London's The O2 Arena which can be seen on YouTube, but has yet to be released.
Richardson rejoined the rest of the band in Los Angeles at the Palladium in Hollywood on November 23, 2008 for the last North American stop of the Unbreakable Tour.
This Is Us (2009???present)
Main article: This Is Us (Backstreet Boys album)
The group has been working on a new album due for release on October 6, 2009 and are confirmed to be working with Max Martin, Lady Gaga, OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder, RedOne, Ne-Yo, Brian Kennedy, Jazze Pha, Pitbull, Claude Kelly, Akon, Jim Jonsin, Eddie Galan, T-Pain, Rami Yacoub, Kristian Lundin, and many others.
In an interview with Extra TV the Backstreet Boys confirmed the title of their seventh album to be "This Is Us".
The Backstreet Boys formally announced the dates for the European leg of the new tour for their newest album, "This is Us". The tour will start on October 30.
The first single off their new album was released on July 23 under the name "Straight Through My Heart", and will be released to radio airwaves on August 17th.
On August 27th 2009, the Backstreet Boys premiered their music video for "Straight Through My Heart", following a vampire theme. As of now there are 11 confirmed songs on the album.
Nick Carter was the first to have an attempt at a career as a solo artist in 2002, when he released his debut album Now Or Never. The album reached #17 on Billboard 200 and was certified gold. The singles released by him during this period were "Help Me" and "Do I Have to Cry for You" both released in 2002 and "I Got You" which was released early 2003.
On May 2, 2006, Brian Littrell released his first solo album Welcome Home with the title track as the first single. Both album and single made the top 3 on the Billboard Christian Charts.
In April 2008 A.J. McLean announced plans to kick start his own solo career, he performed some of his own solo material while on the Unbreakable Tour, some of the most noteworthy material included "London" and "Drive By Love". Long time Backstreet Boy producer Kristian Lundin worked on both of these tracks as well as many others.
In 2007/2008 Howie Dorough began work on his first solo album. His new material was first performed on the Backstreet Boys Unbreakable tour in 2009, where he sang a new solo song entitled "She's Like the Sun". On 2008, he recorded the song "I'll Be There", a duet with Miss Sarah Geronimo, the Pop Princess of the Philippines. The song became the carrier single of Sarah's 5th studio album "Just Me" which was released in the Philippines which eventually turned to Platinum after a month of release.