(EXPLORATION OF THE ROOTS OF MUSIC)
1993 to Present
* The majority of this content appears courtesy of both the Backstreet Boys and Wikipedia.
The "Backstreet Boys", sometimes referred to as "BSB", are an iconic American Pop/R&B vocal group, officially formed in Orlando, Florida back in 1993. The group consists of original members Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson. The Backstreet Boys rose to fame with their debut international album, Backstreet Boys (1996). In the following year, they released their second international album, Backstreet's Back (1997) and their debut album in the United States which continued the group's success worldwide. They rose to superstardom with their album Millennium (1999), and its follow-up album, Black & Blue (2000).
2-time Grammy nominated music producer Tim Coons, the current President of Rocket Records, was the original music producer and vocal coach for the Backstreet Boys. As Backstreet Boys group member Kevin Richardson says about Tim; "Tim taught us early in our career to work hard and respect the opportunities we were given."
Fellow Backstreet Boys group member Howie Dorough states; "Tim's work ethic in the studio is legendary. He gave the Backstreet Boys the singing foundation for what we would become." Tim remains very close friends with the group to this day, and has even recently recorded music for some of the various solo projects of group member Howie Dorough.
The Backstreet Boys consist of group members Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson. The group rose to fame with their debut international album, Backstreet Boys (1996). In the following year, they released their second international album, Backstreet's Back (1997) and their debut album in the United States which continued the group's success worldwide. They rose to superstardom with their album Millennium (1999), and its follow-up album, Black & Blue (2000).
After a two-year hiatus, they regrouped and released their comeback album Never Gone (2005). Richardson left the group in 2006, several months after the conclusion of 'Never Gone Tour' to pursue other interests.The group then recorded and released two albums as a four-piece: Unbreakable (2007) and This Is Us (2009).
In April 2012, the group announced that Richardson has rejoined and that they will return to London in July to continue recording their eighth studio album.As of July 2012, all five members of the Backstreet Boys are living together while working on their new studio album in London.
The Backstreet Boys have sold over 130 million records worldwide,making them the best-selling boy band of all time, and one of the world's best-selling music artists of all time. According to Billboard, they are the first group since 'Sade' to have their first seven albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200.They are also set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.
Formation and early years: 1992–1994
Cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, both of whom came from Lexington, Kentucky, initially began singing in local church choirs and festivals while they were children. Howie Dorough and A.J. McLean were natives of Orlando, Florida, who met each other and later discovered Nick Carter through auditions who joined the two for local commercials, theater, and television. The three, realizing at one audition, that they all shared a great affection for classical soul which they were able to harmonize together, decided to form a trio. Meanwhile, Richardson moved to Orlando, where he took several jobs at Disney, including a tour guide, and the roles of Aladdin and a Ninja Turtle and concentrated on music at nights. Eventually, he met Dorough, Carter, and McLean through a co-worker, and the four decided to form a group. Brian Littrell was later invited to join, turning the group into a quintet.
In the course of all this, Lou Pearlman, in early 1992 had placed an ad in the Orlando Sentinel announcing auditions to compose a boy band. McLean, who was the first to audition for Pearlman in his living room, became the group's first member. In January 1993, Pearlman held an open casting call during which hundreds of young performers danced and sang at his blimp hangar in Kissimmee, south of Orlando. Eventually, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Howie Dorough were selected after meeting Pearlman's expectations, and Brian Littrell was added to the group after Richardson had him audition for the group over the telephone. He flew from Kentucky to Orlando to formally join the group on April 20, 1993, and the date is regarded as their official anniversary date. Pearlman decided to call the group "Backstreet Boys", naming it after Orlando's Backstreet Market, an outdoor flea market near International Drive.
The group had their very first performance at SeaWorld Orlando on May 8, 1993, only about two weeks after Littrell joined.The group then continue to perform in various venues during summer 1993, from shopping malls, restaurants, to a high-profile AIDS charity gala in Fort Lauderdale, Florida hosted by Whitney Houston. With a change in management in the fall, the group began to tour schools across the U.S. (including Littrell's former school, Tates Creek High School), building a fan base while trying to get a record deal. Mercury Records nearly signed them in 1993, but the deal fell through at the last minute. However, in February 1994, Jeff Fenster (then senior VP A&R Zomba/Jive Records) and David Renzer (then senior VP/GM of Zomba Music Publishing) caught the group performing at a high school in Cleveland, and signed them to their first record deal.
Debut Album, American success, and Backstreet's Back: 1995–1997In June 1995, the group flew to Sweden to record three songs with Max Martin and Denniz PoP, one of which ended up being their very first single, "We've Got It Goin' On". "We've Got It Goin' On" was sent to radio in August 1995 and released as a physical single on September 5, 1995. (In North America, Montreal radio broke the group after local programmers heard it on European radio.) The song was a minor success in the States peaking at only No. 69 by December. However, it enjoyed quite a success in Europe entering the Top-5 in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and the Netherlands. European success sent them on a summer tour there and shifted the Backstreet Boys' promotion being mostly done in Europe. In November 1995 they filmed their second video music for their second international single, "I'll Never Break Your Heart", which was originally only issued in Europe on February 12, 1996. They finished recording their first album Backstreet Boys in April 1996 and filmed their third music video, "Get Down (You're the One for Me)" in Germany. On May 6, 1996, their debut album was released internationally, with an exception of the US and the Canadian markets; however, it was later released in Canada in October 1996.
European popularity grew and the Backstreet Boys kicked off 1996 being voted the No. 1 international group by TV viewers in Germany. In the meantime, "I'll Never Break Your Heart" reached a Gold status there for selling 250,000 units. The group earned their first platinum record in Germany in 1996 for selling 500,000 units of their debut album Backstreet Boys during which time they began touring Asia and Canada. The Backstreet Boys quickly became one of the most successful debut artists in the world collecting awards such as Germany's Viva Comet Awards in 1996 for the category of Durchstarter (Best Newcomers).
The Backstreet Boys began recording their second album Backstreet's Back and also recorded the song, "If You Stay", for the Booty Call soundtrack later released in February 1997. They released "Anywhere for You" as the last single off their international album on February 17, 1997. The single "Quit Playing Games (with My Heart)", which was originally released in Europe as their fourth single in October 1996, was released in the US in May 1997 for their upcoming U.S. debut album. It managed to climb as high as No. 2 on Billboard Hot 100, eventually earning them a platinum-award for selling over one million units.
While their second album Backstreet's Back was released internationally (with an exception of the US market) in August 1997, their self-titled U.S. debut, which consisted of songs from Backstreet's Back and the previous self-titled international version of Backstreet Boys, was released in U.S. on August 12, 1997.
The U.S. self-titled debut peaked at No. 4 on the U.S. album chart, which eventually sold 14 million copies back home. Meanwhile, the Backstreet Boys second international release, Backstreet's Back, peaked at No. 1 in Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Austria, selling well over five million units in Europe alone. The two self-titled albums, the international version and the U.S. version of Backstreet Boys sold more than 28 million copies worldwide, 14 million of which were sold in the U.S.
Millennium, Black and Blue, and World stardom: 1998–2000
On October 7, 1998, the group received the keys to the city from the mayor of Orlando in honor of the tornado relief concert the group headlined in March that raised over $250,000. The day was also declared as Backstreet Boys Day in Orlando.
While in the middle of a lawsuit, they began recording the follow-up to their 1997 releases at the beginning of October 1998. All versions of Britney Spears' ...Baby One More Time album released prior to May 18, 1999 featured previews of tracks from their upcoming album Millennium. The worldwide hit single "I Want It That Way" which topped the single-charts in many countries including the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Norway, New Zealand, made anticipation for Millennium high. Millennium was released on Tuesday, May 18, 1999, on which day the Backstreet Boys made a heavily publicized appearance on MTV's Total Request Live Millennium. The album entered the Billboard 200 at No.1, and managed to sell 1,134,000 copies in its first week of release. Four singles were released from Millennium in chronological order: "I Want It That Way", "Larger than Life", "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely", and "The One".
Millennium became the best-selling album of 1999 in the U.S., selling 9,445,732 albums. It also holds the record for most shipments in one year, with 11 million shipment. Millennium remained on the Billboard chart for 93 weeks, eventually selling over 12 million copies in the United States and being certified 13 times platinum. As of the end of December 2008, the album stands as the fourth best selling album in the US of the SoundScan era.
On June 2, 1999, the Backstreet Boys embarked on the first leg of 'Into the Millennium Tour' in Europe. The leg featured 40 concerts in over 30 cities and 13 countries. The second leg was in North America. It initially included 40 dates, but 16 more were later added due to demand with some venues hosting three consecutive shows. The entire 39-cities leg was sold out on August 14 onsale date and broke sales records. The third leg was also in North America, and ran from February 11 – March 15, 2000. The concert at Georgia Dome, Atlanta, was the 5th most attended concert in American history and the most attended concert by a pop artist. The tour comprised 115 sold-out shows in 84 cities in total.
A trip to the Bahamas was made by the group members in May 2000 to write songs for their album. They began recording their next album on July 1, 2000 in Stockholm Sweden, which wrapped up its recording sessions in September. A song completed during the July recording sessions, "It's True", was released on August 28, 2000 to a compilation sold by Burger King. They released the album's first single, "Shape of My Heart", to radio on October 3, 2000.
The Backstreet Boys released their next studio album Black & Blue on Tuesday, November 21, 2000. To promote the release of the album, they traveled around the world in 100 hours to Stockholm, Sweden, Tokyo, Japan, Sydney, Australia, Cape Town, South Africa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and New York, NY upon arriving back home in the United States; 55 of the hours were spent traveling and 45 were spent making public appearances. A DVD of the short tour, as well as a board game, was released in 2001, titled Around the World. The album itself recorded the best international sales in a week for an album in history by selling over 5 million copies in its first week of sales.
In the United States, it sold 1.6 million discs in the first week making them the first artist since 'The Beatles' to achieve back-to-back million plus first week sales. The first single off the album was "Shape of My Heart," followed by "The Call" and "More than That." In the first week of release, Black & Blue's first single "Shape of My Heart" was played on 170 out of 171 of the Top 40 stations in the U.S. and eventually peaked at No. 9 on theBillboard Hot 100. Meanwhile overseas, the song entered the Top-5 in Germany (No.2), Switzerland (No.1), Austria (No.4), the Netherlands (No.3), Sweden (No.1), Norway (No.1), Finland (No.3), Italy (No.1), Australia (No.5) and New Zealand (No.1). In late February 2001, the album's second single "The Call" made it into the Top-10 in the UK and the third single "More than That" made it into the Top-20.
Black and Blue Tour, The Hits: Chapter One, and hiatus: 2001–2003
In January 2001, the Backstreet Boys kicked off the first leg of their "Black & Blue Tour", in which they were to perform on five continents. The tour also had extremely expensive production costs. On January 28, 2001, the Backstreet Boys performed the American national anthem, in front of both a massive worldwide television audience and the thousands of fans attending Super Bowl XXXV, which was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The Hits: Chapter One, released on October 30, 2001 was a collection of the Backstreet Boys' classic hits and a previously unreleased song, "Drowning". While the album entered the top-5 in the U.S. (No.4), United Kingdom (No.5), Germany (No.4) and Canada (No.1), it only managed to enter the top-10 in Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and New Zealand. In the US, The Hits: Chapter One was certified platinum for selling over one million units. Similarly, the album was certified platinum by IFPI also for selling over one million units in Europe. Shortly beforehand the group had already decided to go on hiatus for an undisclosed amount of time following group member A.J. McLean's struggle with alcoholism, and then the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which sadly claimed a beloved member of the Backstreet Boys traveling stage crew.
In November 2003, group member A.J. McLean appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where he talked for the first time in public about his addiction to alcohol and drugs, and his struggles rising to fame. The rest of the group surprised him by arriving in person to give him support, marking the first time the Backstreet Boys had appeared together in public in almost two years. The episode later aired in December 2003 to nationwide audiences. The group began to reform and reconcile their differences, planning to start recording a comeback album at beginning of the following year.
Never Gone and Kevin Richardson's departure from the group: 2004–2006
The Backstreet Boys entered the studios in January 2004 to start writing the new album and mentioned they had recorded four songs for the album in February. They also started performing together to promote their return to the music scene. In September they kicked-off a small Asian tour, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Manila. Based on the success of this tour, they announced a Mexican tour, visiting Mexico City and Monterrey, performing all new material.
Their first single in four years, "Incomplete", was released to radio stations on March 28, 2005. Following the release of the single, they embarked on their 'Up Close & Personal Tour' in March 2005 which served as a pre-album release tour.
On Tuesday, June 14, 2005, the Backstreet Boys released their comeback album Never Gone, which they spent more than a year recording. The album debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. chart with first week sales of 291,000 copies, and No. 1 debuts in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Germany, India, Chile, Brazil and South Korea. However, the drastic style change drew negative criticism from Rolling Stone, which gave the album one star.
The Backstreet Boys began the first leg of their 'Never Gone Tour' on July 22, 2005 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The first leg ran until November 2005 in Europe and it was not until January 2006 that the second leg started in Tokyo, Japan. The tour concluded on February 2, 2006 in Melbourne, Australia.
Never Gone was certified platinum in the US and four singles were released from the album. The first single was "Incomplete", the second single was "Just Want You to Know", and the third singles were "Crawling Back to You" for the US and "I Still..." internationally. Never Gone has sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide. Never Gone's second single "Just Want You to Know" hit the top 10 in the UK, but was not as successful in the United States. It was one of the group's weakest performing U.S. singles, only peaking at No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The third international single "I Still..." debuted at No. 1 on the Japan International Singles Chart. The third US single, "Crawling Back to You" peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.
In June 2006, Richardson left the Backstreet Boys to pursue other interests, issuing a statement on the group's website on June 23, 2006.
Unbreakable and This Is Us: 2007–2010
The Backstreet Boys' sixth album Unbreakable, was officially launched on October 30, 2007. It was their first effort since Richardson's departure. While the album had received positive reviews, it did not perform as well as its predecessor, Never Gone. Unbreakable opened at No. 7 on the Billboard 200, selling 81,000 copies in its first week of release. Two weeks after its debut, the album dropped out of the top 100. However, it performed well in Japan, debuting at No. 1 on the Japanese Oricon weekly album charts and staying there for another week.
On July 25, 2007, the first single was confirmed as "Inconsolable," a piano-driven power ballad similar to Never Gone's "Incomplete." It reached No. 21 on the US Adult Contemporary Charts, but only managed to reach No. 86 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Helpless When She Smiles" was the next single to be released from Unbreakable. It only managed to reach No. 52 in the US Adult Contemporary charts and in turn failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
The group went on a world tour to promote Unbreakable, starting in Tokyo, Japan on February 16, 2008. The tour was titled Unbreakable Tour and included shows in Australia, Japan, Mexico, UK, Europe, Asia, Canada and The United States. They recorded a tour DVD in London's The O2 Arena which can be seen on YouTube, but has yet to be released. Richardson rejoined the rest of the group in Los Angeles at the Palladium in Hollywood on November 23, 2008 for the last North American stop of the Unbreakable Tour.
In 2009, the group began working on a new album that was released on October 6, 2009, titled This Is Us. On this album, they worked with Max Martin, OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder, RedOne, Ne-Yo, Brian Kennedy, Alex James, Pitbull, Claude Kelly, Jim Jonsin, Eddie Galan, T-Pain, Rami Yacoub, Kristian Lundin, and many others. Unlike Unbreakable, This Is Us' sound went back to their original dance-pop beats and contains a more R&B sound. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200, selling 42,000 copies in its first week of release. It peaked at No. 2 in Japan and was certified Platinum for shipments of 250,000 copies.
On August 27, 2009, the first single, "Straight Through My Heart" was released. It failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but managed to peak at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs. The second single from the album was "Bigger", and the music video was filmed in Tokyo, Japan. It was the very first time the group has ever filmed a music video outside of United States. On October 30, 2009, the group went on the This Is Us World Tour, which concluded in Hanoi on March 26, 2011.
A second Backstreet Boys greatest hits album was released on January 26, 2010. The compilation is titled Playlist: The Very Best of Backstreet Boys and is part of a series of similar Playlistalbums issued by Sony Legacy. It was their last album for Jive Records, as they parted ways with the label in May 2011.
NKOTBSB and Kevin Richardson's return to the group: 2011–present
In November 2010, the Backstreet Boys closed out the American Music Awards with 'New Kids on the Block'. On November 8, 2010, it was confirmed that they were planning to have a joint tour with New Kids on the Block in 2011. Prior to the tour, the new supergroup released a compilation album of their biggest hits, titled NKOTBSB. The album includes two new songs, "Don't Turn Out the Lights" and "All in My Head".
In May 2011, they embarked on the first leg of 'NKOTBSB Tour' with New Kids on the Block. At the conclusion of 2011, the tour placed 17th on Billboard's annual "Top 25 Tours", earning over $40 million with 51 shows. In late 2011, they announced a second leg of the tour for 2012, including Europe, Australia, and Asia.
As he had announced before on On Air with Ryan Seacrest in October 2011, Kevin Richardson hosted a beach party in the Bahamas on December 3, 2011, where he performed with the group. The party was part of the group’s second annual cruise, the SS Backstreet, which ran from December 2–5, 2011. On Seacrest's radio show, he also stated that he would love to perform with the group again on a more regular basis.
Richardson's appearance at the cruise event prompted speculations that he may rejoin the group for good, but both he and the group remained quiet on what was going on. However, after months of keeping it secret, on April 29, 2012, in the middle of a show in London, the group announced that Richardson has rejoined them permanently and that they will return to London in July 2012 to record a brand-new album.
The Backstreet Boys are also set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013, as they were named among the 2013 Walk of Fame Honorees announced by The Walk of Fame Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce on a live press conference on June 22, 2012.
On July 17, 2012, the Backstreet Boys appeared on Good Morning America live via satellite from London to announce that they are officially back together with Kevin Richardson's return to the group on a full-time basis. They also announced to the public that they are scheduled to perform at the morning show's Summer Concert Series on August 31, 2012 in Central Park, New York City. It will be their very first performance since Richardson rejoined the group. They also stated that they are currently living in a house together while recording their new album with producer Martin Terefe in London.
Regarding the group's dynamics, Carter said, "We couldn't be happier to have our brother back with us. It's awesome, it really is. Our vibe is fantastic, it's like never before. It's revitalized. We're actually living in a house together out here at the moment. We wake up, have breakfast together. We're not sick of each other at all!" Littrell also added, "Having Kevin back in the mix adds that extra special magic to our group. We're over the moon to have him back and it's a great way to give back to our fans." Richardson himself was thrilled to be back with his old bandmates. "Being back with my brothers again feels great," said Richardson. "I love these guys. We have gone through so much together. We just have a chemistry... a bond that will always be."
On Saturday, April 20, 2013, the Backstreet Boys officially celebrated their 20th anniversary as a music group. 2 days later, they received a star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame.