Lance Bass is speaking out about the death of Lou Pearlman, the man behind some of the biggest boy bands of the 1990s. Bass took to Twitter to remember his former ‘NSYNC manager, writing that while “he may not have been a stand up businessman… I wouldn’t be doing what I love today [without] his influence.”
Bass’ ‘NSYNC bandmate Justin Timberlake also posted a message about the group’s late manager.
Pearlman, the controversial manager behind Lance Bass’ band, ‘N Sync, as well as the Backstreet Boys and O-Town, died in prison at age 62 while serving a 25-year jail sentence for a $300 million Ponzi scheme, according to Billboard. No cause of death has been given.
Pearlman was reportedly inspired by the success of ’80s boy band New Kids on the Block, so he formed the Trans Continental record company and embarked on a multi-million dollar talent search to create the Backstreet Boys, which featured young male singers Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell.
In 1995, Pearlman formed Orlando boy band ‘NSYNC, which launched the careers of Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chavez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. Pearlman, who was known as “Big Poppa” to his boys, also managed several other artists, including Nick’s younger brother Aaron Carter, and he spearheaded other bands including US5, LFO, Take 5 and O-Town, which was created through the MTV reality show Making the Band.
But 10 years after his heyday, Pearlman was sued for fraud and misrepresentation by all but one of the artists he managed. A scathing 2007 Vanity Fair profile detailed molestation allegations against the music industry genius. He later got caught in a Ponzi scheme over two fictitious airline companies and was indicted on charges of conspiracy and money laundering.
In his 2007 memoir, Out of Sync, Lance Bass wrote about the unfair deals that his former manager got his teen bands involved in, which they made next to nothing. In his book, Lance wrote that the notorious boy-band mogul “had a way of making you feel special.”
“He had all these limos and Rolls-Royces and was always using them to take us to great dinners in upscale restaurants,” Bass wrote.
Lance Bass was only 16-years-old when he joined ‘NSYNC. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bass said he loved Lou when he first met him.
“I immediately just really fell in love with[him],” Lance said. “He was such a nice guy and fun to talk to. He immediately became family — he was our ‘Papa Lou.'”
Still, Bass recounted his band’s early days, in which they were raking in millions and only earning a $35-a-day per diem.
“After three years of doing this, having a No. 1 album, being the biggest band in the world, we weren’t seeing any paychecks,” Lance revealed.
After a paltry $25,000 paycheck finally came in, Lance Bass and ‘NSYNC left Trans Continental in 1998 and signed with Jive Records.
“The sad thing is, Lou could have had it all,” Bass told THR. “He could have had the new Motown in Orlando. But that’s where greed comes in. He was just a really greedy person.”
While he may not have been the most ethical manager, Pearlman undoubtedly launched a lot of careers and changed the landscape of pop music in the ’90s.
In addition to Lance Bass, several other artists took to social media to say goodbye to the controversial man that started them on the road to fame, including Aaron Carter, AJ McLean, and O-Town’s Ashley Parker Angel. The ’80s pop star Debbie Gibson also chimed in, writing that the disgraced music industry giant was “a sweet soul.”
Take a look at the video below to see the Backstreet Boys talking about their former manager’s scandals.
[Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for MTV]