As reported by Billboard, disgraced music mogul Lou Pearlman—the man who created both the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync before being convicted of running an enormous Ponzi scheme—has died. He was 62.
Pearlman was born in New York in 1954, and though his cousin being Art Garfunkel got him interested in music at a young age, his first career was related to a fascination with blimps. He ran a company that leased blimps and helicopters, but its stock price plummeted and the company was shut down after several of its aircrafts crashed. Before that, though, Pearlman had chartered a plane for the members of New Kids On The Block, and seeing how they were printing money with their albums, concert tickets, and merchandise, Pearlman decided to develop a boy band of his own.
After spending millions of dollars on a talent search, Pearlman put together the Backstreet Boys and gradually turned them into one of the most successful pop groups of all time. Then, because sometimes lightning strikes multiple times, he did the exact same thing again and ended up with ‘N Sync—thereby launching the career of pop superstar Justin Timberlake. From there, Pearlman’s Trans Continental Records became a hit machine, working with acts like O-Town, LFO, Aaron Carter, Innosense, and New Kids On The Block’s own Jordan Knight.
By the late ‘90s, though, Pearlman’s empire started falling apart. The Backstreet Boys realized that their contract—which reportedly gave Pearlman a huge chunk of their profits—was unfair, so they sued him. The members of ‘N Sync quickly realized they were also being ripped off and filed a similar suit. All in all, every single group that Pearlman managed (save for one) sued him for misrepresentation and fraud, with Pearlman either losing all of them or settling them out of court.
Things got even worse for Pearlman in 2006, when investigators discovered that he had been running a Ponzi scheme through Trans Continental that had stolen about $300 million from investors. Pearlman was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Still, no matter what happened in the past, Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake paid tribute to the man who made them stars: