When the Backstreet Boys formed in 1993, with their ages ranging from 13 to 22, they were only hoping to become a success and maybe, by some miracle, keep that success for more than a few years.
Fast Forward to 2018, Kevin, Howie, Brian, AJ, and Nick are celebrating 25 years together and their first single, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, in the top 10 on the American Top 40 Hot AC Chart. Media outlets who had counted the Boys out just a few years ago are now aware of their ongoing success and reporting on it as such. Their Vegas residency, announced in 2016 and running since March 2017, is still one of the best selling shows on the Strip, not only garnering the attention of fans across the world, but quite a few celebrities as well (including Niall Horan, Snooki, Gwen Stefani and more).
The Boys will be ending their residency next year only to start another world tour, their first since a successful tour hitting multiple countries worldwide from 2013-2015. Before heading out on tour, they will be releasing their highly anticipated new album in coming months, a follow up to 2013’s In A World Like This. Always ones to put fans first, the Boys previewed tracks that they had recorded already (that may or may not be on the album) earlier this year during an event on their sold out cruise.
How did they achieve such massive successes and what keeps them together? The question has been asked in many interviews and it all boils down to one thing — the Backstreet Boys are family.
“Nobody tells you what to do when you get to the top.” – Brian Littrell, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of: The Backstreet Boys Movie
Kevin, Howie, Brian, AJ and Nick have literally grown up in front of everyone’s eyes.
They’ve walked hundreds of red carpets.
They’ve received numerous awards.
They’ve released nine studio albums (even more songs).
They’ve filmed a documentary that revealed a lot of truth behind the biggest selling boyband of all time.
And they’ve always been honest about who they are as people and who they are as performers. Perhaps that is the best part of the Backstreet Boys – their authenticity.
Amidst their clean cut facade in 2001, 4/5 of the Boys appeared on TRL unexpectedly to announce that they would be putting the Black and Blue tour on hiatus to allow AJ McLean the time he needed to enter rehab and seek treatment for his alcoholism and depression.
“We didn’t want to sweep it under the rug,” Kevin Richardson had told fans at the time.
And that was the moment, for a lot of fans, that sparked a new sense of loyalty to the band they had screamed senselessly over as preteens. Things were changing. We were all growing up and dealing with things and so were they. Suddenly, there seemed like a new relationship had formed. This wasn’t a completely innocent band who had a dark past they weren’t telling us about. These were five talented human beings who were not only wildly successful at this point, but cared enough about their fans to be honest and cared enough about humankind in general to use their platform to bring awareness to the fact that addiction can affect anyone.
Really though, can a band really have a “dark past” when they’ve been open about everything that they’ve dealt with?
There’s been battles with addictions.
There’s been bad relationships that played out in the tabloids.
There’s been public family discord.
There’s been court battles with Lou Pearlman.
There’s been battles with each other.
There’s been vocal issues and illnesses.
The Backstreet Boys have been human. And they’ve done it in front of the entire world. They’ve addressed it. They’ve stayed classy about situations as they have gotten older and they’ve known that in order to be where they are now and who they are now, some things had to happen.
They know that even the ugliest battles have had silver linings and have turned those experiences into some of the best songs on their albums.
Most importantly, the Backstreet Boys have never let themselves be defined by the negative experiences they’ve had but rather, grew from them.
How Did The Backstreet Boys Become The Biggest Boyband In The World?
Simply put, hard work and remembering where they came from.
The Boys’ success did not come easy. They spent most of their early years playing in high school gyms to students who didn’t exactly love them before heading overseas to gain massive success. It wasn’t until 1997 that they found any fame in the U.S.
Any of them will tell you on any given day how grateful they are still for their continued success and that they never take it for granted. They also don’t take anyone else for granted who has helped them along their way. That has most recently included the team they worked with to produce “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”.
“The one thing that really made me impressed with them is that boys are so verbally appreciative of us,” Stuart Crichton says, who helped produce the Boys’ latest single. “They’ve had a lot of success, which more often than not makes artists aloof with you; the ego takes over. But in any interview, we all get mentioned. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve told us how grateful they are. Even the last time I saw Kevin (Richardson), he turned to me and was like, ‘I can’t tell you enough, but thanks so much for ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart. It’s just so great for us.’ It makes me want to work ten times harder for them.”
Throughout the Boys’ history, there aren’t many interviews where they HAVEN’T been extremely vocal about their appreciation for anyone has helped shaped their career, from musical inspirations, other artists, former managers, and, of course, fans.
That deep-rooted appreciation even extends to Backstreet Boys-creator Lou Pearlman, who ultimately scammed the group out of millions of dollars they were owed. Are they still bitter? No. In fact, they are sad for him and sad that things ended the way they did. When asked by Entertainment Tonight how they felt about his death in 2017, Kevin, Howie, AJ, Nick and Brian expressed that it was ‘bittersweet’ and recognized that the highs and lows that they have faced as a group, like the ones they did with Pearlman, made them the group that they are today.
As for their fans…
Not only do the Backstreet Boys tour worldwide to try to reach as many fans as possible, set sail on cruises with daily events and nightly parties with fans, continue to create music, and try to connect in their downtime, but they have gone above and beyond in some instances that you can read about here.
Did we also mention that the Boys are constantly giving back? From having their own charities to performing charity shows, the BSB are always giving back in any area that they can.
Earlier this Summer, you could find Nick (along with his family) raising money to fund classroom supplies for teachers and children at a local elementary school in Las Vegas as well as helping raise awareness for the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. Howie Dorough consistently makes appearances at charity events in his local Florida community as well and AJ McLean raised funds for a local school in California to be able to replace instruments that were stolen as well as a complete music room makeover.
Kentucky cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell have also been notably philanthropic and very big advocates for different causes, especially those they have been especially touched by. Kevin, who lost his father to colon cancer at a young age, has been vocal about the importance of early screenings. He’s also involved environmental conservation (and has sent several kids to college on environmental scholarships) as well as opening up about he and his wife’s fertility struggle in an effort to help other families who might be going through the same journey. Brian Littrell, while quieter about his charitable giving in his local area of Georgia, has perhaps been the most active Backstreet Boy with his own charity, Healthy Heart Club for Kids. While the charity has dissolved and evolved into a larger reaching “Just Ask”, Brian has never shied away from spreading awareness about living a heart-healthy life, having been affected by his own heart disease since he was an infant.
As a group, the Backstreet Boys donated $1 of every Vegas residency ticket sale to the Animal Foundation in Las Vegas during their first run and to the Boys and Girls Club during their second run. They also visited the Club to speak with the kids about pursuing their dreams and the importance of hard work before spending time shooting hoops and showing them a few dance moves.
“Not only are we group members and business partners, but we’re family.” – Kevin Richardson
“Those guys can go a cappella at the drop of a hat and deliver an amazing performance — and they actually dance, and are committed and disciplined,” Joseph Kahn, now famed director who got his start with the “Everybody” music video, told Billboard. “Sometimes when you’re a solo act, you have no one to say ‘no’… The great thing about boy bands, and why Justin Timberlake comes out fine, is that you have people around you to say ‘No.’ You have to learn how to share, it’s like growing up in a family. That’s the Backstreet Boys. They’re brothers. They’re truly a band.”
While there’s a lot to be said for the Backstreet Boys working hard and cultivating an atmosphere of humanity and gratitude throughout their 25 year career, none of it would have been possible without each individual member of the talented quintet.
These five are brothers. They are admittedly family, with high highs and low lows like everyone else. They’ve very literally grown up together. Like family, they stick together and stand by one another. They take the hits, they roll with the punches, and together, they get rise to the occasion everytime.
So, it’s no surprise to anyone that has followed the Boys for any amount of time that they would take up for one another and hear each other out when a less than ideal situation arises. It’s this united front that has kept them together and it’s a genuine love and deep-rooted care for each other that has given them a bright future. While they have been honest about their arguments and kept it real about how they’ve had fall outs here and there, there has always been an underlying respect for each other in their words.
Clearly, the Backstreet Boys are not going anyway. For better or for worse.
And it’s not just being family with each other. With Brian, Kevin, Howie, AJ and Nick all married with children, the family has expanded to include Leighanne, Kristin, Leigh, Rochelle, Lauren, Baylee, Mason, Maxwell, Holden, James, Ava, Lyric and Odin.
It goes without saying that the Backstreet Boys are in a good place, personally and publicly. There’s a whole lot of love to go around.
Taking The High Road
“Things are really good in our lives right Paper Magazine, 2017lly fortunate and we know that is a blessing.” – Nick Carter,
Lastly, and perhaps the most refreshing in times of social media where it is so easy to react quickly, is the fact that Kevin, Howie, Brian, AJ and Nick have never been, for lack of a better term, petty. Not since they’ve grown up anyway.
Since the beginning, they’ve taken whatever the public and the media has thrown at them in stride and have taken it as fuel to work harder, only addressing what needed to be addressed. Their music has, and will continue to, speak for them.
Because they have been open (as much as they need to be) about their highs and lows, they have opened themselves up for criticism that they have handled pretty well…but they’ve also been able to form a deeper connection with folks around the world – from fans to celebrities to the general population.
They are the people’s musical group. They’ve made it abundantly clear that they’re just five regular guys that tour the world and share their talents in front of millions but also take out the trash when they’re home and put on their pants the same way we all do.
Always classy, always appreciative, and always looking to be better, do more, and work harder, Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, and Nick Carter continue to inspire new musical acts (including Florida Georgia Line, who they recently collaborated with and country artist Lauren Alaina, who met the Boys at the CMT Awards), get name dropped by other celebrities who have nothing but love and respect for them and continue to inspire legions of fans, some who have followed them for years and some who are just jumping on the bandwagon. Some even credit the Backstreet Boys with making music that saved their lives.
“It’s the music, it’s the love, truthfully. We love this. It might sound cliche, but we love being The Backstreet Boys. We love what it represents. We enjoy what we do. We take pride in what we do, we have a common goal that unites us, and we do genuinely care about each other. We do genuinely want the other to be happy and fulfilled and allowing each other to do individual stuff,” the Boys told Robin Leach in an interview last year.
In an interview with People this year, Brian stated, “We’re blessed to still be doing this for so long and be so prosperous for so many years. The fans have really done it for us.”
The Backstreet Boys are entering a new era and there is no doubt that it is going to be a successful one.
We’re here for it. Are you?
For a complete list of the Backstreet Boys incredible history, click here.
(Itching to see the Boys live? Click here for all upcoming appearances.)