Lou Pearlman, founder of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, has died at the age of 62. Pearlman, who has been in prison since 2008 for his role in a Ponzi scheme, found huge financial success as the producer and manager of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC before both bands broke away from Lou by filing lawsuits against Pearlman for misrepresentation and fraud.
Lou Pearlman’s first success story was the Backstreet Boys, who had six top 10 singles and nine albums in Billboard’s Top 10. The Backstreet Boys would soon find competition with Pearlman’s new project, NSYNC, who would experience similar success though their two most successful albums would arise after NSYNC’s break up with Lou.
According to Entertainment Weekly, in 2006 it was discovered that Pearlman had taken more than $300 million from investors. Pearlman fled the country and was arrested in Indonesia before being brought back to the United States to face the music. Convicted of conspiracy, money laundering, and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding, Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
As if Lou Pearlman’s business dealings weren’t enough to disgrace and dishonor him, another more sordid rumor persisted regarding Pearlman and his sexual interest in young men. According to ABC News, as Lou was awaiting the start of his fraud trial, accusations of molestation arose in a Vanity Fair article regarding Pearlman requesting sexual favors in return for helping musicians with their careers.
Though Pearlman denied the allegations of sexual impropriety, the mother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and solo artist Aaron Carter alleged was one of Lou’s more prominent accusers.
“Certain things happened, and it almost destroyed our family. I tried to warn everyone. I tried to warn other mothers,” Jane Carter told Vanity Fair of Pearlman. “I tried to expose him for what he was years ago.”
The death of Lou Pearlman undoubtedly will have an effect on those whose careers he helped launch and those whom were victimized by him. Though many of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC have yet to comment on Pearlman’s demise, several artists expressed condolences on social media.
— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) August 20, 2016
Mixed emotions right now, but RIP Lou Pearlman.
— Chris Kirkpatrick (@IamCKirkpatrick) August 21, 2016
#LouPearlman my old manager died in prison… Rip Lou not the best business guy really at all but he did discover me karma is real
— KiD CaRTer (@aaroncarter) August 21, 2016
Many emotions at the news of Lou’s passing. Without Lou I wouldn’t have met my four brothers or had the opportunity of a lifetime. RIP.
— AJ McLean (@skulleeroz) August 21, 2016
Despite his atrocities, even those who had issue with Lou Pearlman acknowledge that without Lou, some of the 1990s most beloved music may not exist. The Backstreet Boys still remains a strong act and out of NSYNC arose one of the most celebrated musicians of our time, Justin Timberlake.
Pearlman’s cause of death is unknown at this time.
[Photo by John Raoux/AP Images]