Backstreet Boys founder Lou Pearlman dies at 62 in prison

Backstreet Boys founder Lou Pearlman dies at 62 in prison

Lou Pearlman, the music mogul who launched boy bands the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync, has died in prison on August 19 at the age of 62.

The cause of death was not disclosed, but he was suffering from diabetes and had a heart condition.

Pearlman was serving a 25-year sentence for embezzlement after he was found guilty in 2008 by a court of running a Ponzi scheme, which attracted over $300 million from investors.

Pearlman rose to fame in the 1990s when, inspired by the success of boy band New Kids On The Block, he funded a talent contest through his company Trans Continental to find young singers who would eventually form the Backstreet Boys. He was known for his spending when it came to breaking his bands and he is believed to have spent several million dollars to break the Backstreet Boys. Their success was followed with N'Sync, which included a young Justin Timberlake.

To distribute his bands worldwide, Pearlman signed a deal with Clive Calder's Jive record label, which would generate millions of sales around the world. One of Pearlman's last projects was boy band US5. His relationship with bands almost inevitably ended up acrimoniously and with lawsuits for unpaid royalties and mismanagement.

N'Sync singer Lance Bass wrote on Twitter: "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 wthout his influence. RIP Lou." Justin Timberlake also took to Twitter to share his views on Pearlman: "I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman."

O-Town's Ashley Parker Angel said: "Love him or hate him, Lou gave many of us our start. It's a shame he let greed get in his way."

Pearlman, whose first cousin was Art Garfunkel, was born in 1954 in Flushing, New York and started various businesses in the late ‘70s early ‘80s, chartering people via helicopters and planes. In 1989 he relocated to Florida and started building his music operations with a studio and a label.

In parallel to his music activities, he started to entice people to invest in his Transatlantic companies, Transcontinental Airlines Travel Services Inc and Transcontinental Airlines Inc, that only existed in paper. In 2006,  federal investigation concluded that he was running a Ponzi scheme, swindling millions from private investors and individuals. After going missing for several months, Pearlman was arrested in Indonesia in 2007 and faced trial in 2008. He agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to serve 25 year behind bars.

One of his final public appearances was in the summer of 2006 at the Popkomm conference in Berlin where he was one of the keynote speakers.


Music Week Radar, 26th May 2016

JP Cooper – Tidal Wave. Filmed at Music Week Radar, Under the Bridge.

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