The ad in the newspaper said so clearly. They were looking for teenagers in the style of New Kids on the Blocks. Five hearings, in a living room, in an airship hangar and by telephone, met the expectations of the advertiser: the wealthy tycoon – who died in a Florida prison in 2016 – Lou Pearlman. On April 20, 1993, on a flight from Kentucky to Orlando, Brian Littrell was traveling. He was the fifth member of the group. The one who was missing would come to complete the group that filled the premises of the producer in his new lucrative activity. The Backstreet Boys were born. The phenomenon that revolutionized pop in the 90s and still “gives war” three decades later.
“Young Boys Wanted”
The Backstreet Boys isn’t your typical story of five lifelong friends getting together to make music. Its origin can be found in an advertisement published in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper in June 1992.: “Producer looking for teen singers, between 16 and 19 years old. we want a group in the style of New Kids on the Block, who sings and dances. Submit a photo or biography of any kind.
The announcer was the late Lou Pearlmana failed rocker and successful aviation mogul, who dreamed of having a blast and enjoying a new adventure/enterprise among pop youth. The blimp businessman, cousin of Art Garfunkel, felt fascinated by the success of NKOTB, he therefore decided to create Trans Continental Records and invested 3 million dollars in his search for talent.
April 20, 1993
AJ McLean,who was 14 at the time, was the first to audition in the Pearlman House lounge. Soon he becomes the first member of the group. Between the end of 1992 and March 1993, hundreds of young people attended the casting organized by the billionaire in his airship hangar, in the city of Kissimmee, Florida. After AJ, Nick Carter (12), Howie Dorough (19) and Kevin Richardson (21) passed the tests). Finding the fifth member was not easy until the eldest of the group remembers his cousin from Kentucky.
“I saw two guys and they were really bad,” Kevin told “Rolling Stone” magazine. “And that made me sad. And I said ‘you know what? I have a cousin who leaves his skin while singing’”. And called Brian Littrell (18 years). At 2 p.m. on April 19, 1993, Littrell received an urgent call from Kevin. I was in American history class. At 9 p.m., Brian auditioned by phone. The next day, at 6 am, he flew to Orlando to officially join the group. On April 20, 1993, the fastest-selling boy band in pop music history was born: the Backstreet Boys. The name was decided by Pearlman. It came from an outdoor flea market in Orlando and also from a place frequented by young people: Backstreet Market.
“Two weeks later, I was playing in front of 5,000 people”
“I guess the guys liked me,” Littrell told Rolling Stone magazine, recalling the “blind audition” he conducted over the phone. “Because two weeks later I was playing in front of 5,000 people.” He was referring to Backstreet Boys’ first concert, May 8, 1993 at Sea World, a theme park in Orlando. They sang for high school students celebrating their prom night. Howie Dorough recalled on ‘Allure’: “That night we wore leather biker jackets, jeans and white t-shirts. And that was our first “look”.
They would spend the rest of the summer perform at malls, restaurants and charity galas. And while they were building a powerful legion of fans, Pearlman was trying to land them a record deal. I had nothing to do. Because two executives from Zomba / Jive Records, after seeing them play in an institute in Cleveland, signed them in February 1994. A few months later, the five young people flew to Sweden to record some songs with Max Martin and Dennis PoP. One of them was We’ve got it goin’ on, which ended up being their first single.
Success did not come overnight. In fact, this first single was released in the United States in August 1995 aroused no interest and all promotional plans in the country have been canceled. However, in Europe, the reverse happened: the theme gave the band its first gold record in Germany. They have also been successful in the UK. The first album was released only in the spring of 1996, the eponymous Backstreet Boys, which swept through a dozen countries. Again, with 500,000 copies sold in Germany, they obtain their first platinum disc. Until 1997, and after having distributed more than 8.5 million of this first CD, they did not begin to generate interest in the United States. The success was enormous: it became one of the greatest debuts ever published. And on the first step towards the great phenomenon that has revolutionized the music market.
Today, with over 130 million records worldwide, the Backstreet Boys are the best-selling boy band of all time.. And Pearlman, who also created NSYNC, ended his days in prison charged with fraud and fraud, one of the largest in the United States. The members of the group he had founded in Orlando, They were the first to complain. Considered one of the greatest crooks in history, in 2008, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He died in 2016.
Every April 20…
Like Celtas Cortos, the Backstreet Boys also celebrate every April 20 on their social media. Year after year, they post tweets recalling the date: “On this day in 1993, we became the Backstreet Boys and our lives have changed forever”. Or: “We went from performing in high school gymnasiums to leading a world tour this summer.”. In their 2018 post, they confessed, “If you had told us that 25 years later we would still be making music together, we would never have believed you.”
Well, this is our last year in our twenties…
April 20 has become such a special day over the past 29 years and we are stronger today than we have ever been because you keep showing up. Although all has been said and done… #BSB29
Should we plan something BIG for 30!? pic.twitter.com/GNaQIN0geE
— Backstreet Boys (@backstreetboys) April 20, 2022
In 2021, they wrote: “28 years ago today we met for the first time. It’s kind of exciting and hopeful, but We did not even imagine how important this day would be.”. And in 2022 they said: “April 20 has become such a special date over the past 29 years y today we are stronger than ever because you continue to be present. Despite all that’s been said and done“.
REAR STREET 30 YEARS
How could it be otherwise, on April 20, 2023, the Backstreet Boys celebrate their 30th anniversary in style. In addition to a tribute book illustrated with photographs and memories, they have been heating their social networks for days by asking their fans to vote the 30 best moments in its history. “You have been there from the start. We know who you are…
You have been there from the start. Now it’s time for you to help us kick off our 30th anniversary celebration by voting on your top 30 moments in BSB history. We’ll tally your votes and count down from April 20, from #30 to time #1! Vote NOW on https://t.co/cYADvdHn70 pic.twitter.com/O7fXZdO8eX
— Backstreet Boys (@backstreetboys) April 14, 2023
The group promises big surprises. AJ McLean teased on Official Chars Company: “We have some interesting tricks up our sleeves. I’ll just say this: if these things come out, our fans are literally going to lose their minds.”. He added: “We have some amazing things in mind… definitely, some big, big, big things. Probably the biggest we’ve done in years. it’s gonna be amazing. Reaching 30 is very important, so we’re going to do something huge.”. For now, the band continues their DNA world tour and sends this message: “We look forward to seeing you around the world to celebrate 30 years of BSB. Can you believe it?”