Flashback: October 1999
A look back at our music issue from 1999.
Clockwise from far left: Ryan Goodell, T.J. Christofore, Lou Pearlman, Stevie Sulthorpe, Clay Goodell and Tilky Jones
Our music issue of 17 years ago featured numerous performers and entrepreneurs with O-town roots and connections. One figure, in particular, was flying high at the time, as told in a profile titled “Jack of All Trades’’ that began: “Growing up in Queens, N.Y., Lou Pearlman never dreamed he’d become a music mogul in Orlando.’’
Pearlman, of course, was the boy band entrepreneur responsible for creating enormously successful groups like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC in the mid-1990s. Our story related how Pearlman once ran a commercial aviation business that leased planes, helicopters and blimps. He moved to Orlando in 1991, since many of his blimps were leased here, and got the music itch, starting Trans Continental Records, “a music management company and production machine.’’
“In 1992 he started working with Backstreet Boys. After consciously honing their dance and vocal skills overseas—and taking Europe by storm in 1995—Pearlman brought the boys home. Today, Backstreet—as well as Take Five, ‘N Sync and LFO—are household names.‘’ Pearlman was in the midst of “trying to transform O-Town into Motown’’ with a $6 million recording complex, plus a burgeoning website presence for his Trans Con bands.
“I’m so blessed to be doing what I love—[making others happy], ‘’ Pearlman told us in 1999. “What more could anyone ask for.’’
The groups continued to flourish and some, notably Justin Timberlake of NSYNC, found success in solo careers. But it all came crashing down for Pearlman a few years later when he was accused of pocketing profits of his young singers, and then in 2007 was charged with swindling investors out of $300 million in a Ponzi scheme. A year later he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.
“I deeply regret what happened,” he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. “And I’ll be back.”
Pearlman died in prison this past August of heart complications. He was 62.
Boy band members reacted to Lou Pearlman’s death on Twitter
“Mixed emotions right now, but RIP Lou Pearlman.’’
NSYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick
“Word is that #LouPearlman has passed away. He might not have been a stand-up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today [without] his influence. RIP Lou.”
NSYNC’s Lance Bass
I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.
NSYNC’s Justin Timberlake
“Hard to describe what I’m feeling. He was always nice to me, even when he was stealing from me. RIP.’’
O-Town’s Jacob Underwood