Lou Pearlman, the man credited with forming and managing the popular 1990s boy bands Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC who was later sentenced to 25 years in prison, has died. He was 62.
Pearlman was eight years into his prison sentence — he found guilty in 2008 of conspiracy, money laundering, and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding after investigators discovered he defrauded investors out of some $300 million over 20 years — when he died Friday, as confirmed by PEOPLE.
Pearlman brought together Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean, and Kevin Richardson in 1993 to form his first group, the Backstreet Boys, after watching the worldwide success of New Kids on the Block. A couple of years later, creating a bit of a rivalry, he formed *NSYNC, made up of Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Justin Timberlake. Both bands were hugely successful in their own right — BSB with more than 130 million albums sold to its credit; *NYSNC with over 55 million in record sales.
Cementing his position as a go-to band producer and manager, the Flushing, New York native went on to form other bands, including O-Town, LFO, Take 5, and Innosense, which included Britney Spears as an original and short-time member, as well as solo acts including Aaron Carter (younger brother to BSB’s Nick).
For their 2015 documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, the Backstreet Boys revisited Pearlman’s vacant Florida mansion, a moment that wasn’t an easy one for all of the guys. In an interview with EW, McLean revealed they wanted to speak with their old manager, who they sued contending their contract — under which he was getting paid as their manager, producer, and as a sixth member of the group — was unfair.
“Why? Why did you do it?” McLean says they wanted to ask Pearlman in a prison visit. “Everything looked like it was going to happen and then unfortunately the warden would not give us the greenlight. … Then they said, ‘One of you can come but not all five,’ and we were like, ‘If it’s not all five it’s just not worth it.’”
*NSYNC and many other bands followed suit, alleging misrepresentation and fraud.
Upon hearing the news of Pearlman’s death, Lance Bass took to social media, saying, in part, “He might not have been a stand up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today [without] his influence. RIP Lou.”
Chris Kirkpatrick also weighed in on Pearlman’s death.