‘Some of the Guys Couldn’t Pay Their Car Payment.’
Teenagers in the late 1990s and early 2000s could not resist the allure of NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
The Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC both enjoyed meteoric rises to stardom in the 1990s, topping charts and hawking CDs left and right.
The members of NSYNC eagerly anticipated their first paychecks after their debut album’s more than 10 million sales only to learn that their manager, Lou Pearlman, was paying them peanuts for the hours they’d worked in the band.
The boy bands were a cultural phenomenon that shaped a generation’s taste in pop music as well as fashion and music trends. One of the best-selling boy bands of all time, Backstreet Boys sold 130 million records globally. NSYNC was right behind them, selling 70 million copies.
Lou Pearlman, a larger-than-life figure who was reputed to weigh around 330 pounds, was the man behind the bands.
The largest boy bands in the world were cast and trained by Pearlman, who started out as a blimp salesman (we’re not kidding). Pearlman went on to become one of the most successful talent managers and record producers of all time.
At the height of his career, Pearlman was estimated to have a net worth of over $300 million, but everything crashed like the Hindenburg after that. Pearlman passed away in 2016 while imprisoned.
However, Pearlman’s other schemes at the time included more than just underpaying his boy band members. Later on, the individual was found guilty and given a 25-year prison term for his offenses.
The YouTube Original documentary The Boy Band Con provides a comprehensive account of Pearlman’s unlawful activities as well as the impact they had on the successful boy band members. So what did Pearlman actually do?
Boy bands were first developed by Pearlman, a former balloon salesman, in the early 1990s, commencing with the Backstreet Boys.
According to ABC, Pearlman stated, “I put the money out to help them.” “We’d provide choreographers for them. We would teach them how to sing. We would assign them tutors. I believe I am an excellent cultivator. Soon after the group’s success began to spread, Pearlman started to consider them for *NSYNC, paying them only $35 per day (per diem) despite the fact that their records were selling millions of copies.
Once boy bands had provided the basis for his success, Pearlman established TransContinental, a collection of “companies” he claimed to be the owner of.
However, Pearlman was ultimately responsible for one of the most successful Ponzi schemes ever, laundering more than $1 billion and ending up in jail after racking up more than $300 million in debt.
Pearlman misrepresented the insurance coverage of the FDIC, AIG, and Lloyd’s of London for all of the transactions he carried out using investor funds. In order to obtain loans and attract investors, he even went so far as to fabricate financial statements.
When a probe into his scheme was launched, he sought to leave the country and was apprehended in 2007. On allegations of conspiracy, money laundering, and making false claims during a bankruptcy procedure, he was prosecuted and found guilty.
Pearlman was supposed to be freed from prison in 2029, but his sentence was never completed. He experienced a stroke in 2010. Although he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 that the stroke had helped him regain his health, he would die of a heart attack two years later in a federal prison in Miami. Pearlman passed away at the age of 62.
Three years after Pearlman’s passing, former *NSYNC member Lance Bass discussed it and said he was “puzzled” by it.
“I wasn’t sure how to react at all when I learned that Lou Pearlman had died. How could you pass away at this time if we don’t have this resolution, I thought. You must express regret! Like, there are a ton of people who are eagerly awaiting your realization of what you done “In an interview, he stated, according to USA Today. “And the fact that he died pissed me off.”