From Elvis to the Beatles, The Beach Boys to Michael Jackson, each era and decade of music has brought a unique sound and new style of superstar with a setlist as iconic as the screams they draw from their adoring fans.
The 1990s were no exception, sparking a boy band fever that continues to rage today, bringing to popularity the likes of NSYNC, 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block and, of course, the Backstreet Boys.
The Backstreet Boys were formed in 1993 in Orlando, Florida, and quickly became not only one of the most popular boy bands of all time, but also one with the most longevity, sparking a decades-long obsession for millions of fans across the globe.
The group, consisting of Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson, hit the airwaves in a way that can only be described as “Larger Than Life,” and though plenty has happened within their ranks over the last couple decades since then, there’s no reason to feel “Incomplete.” In January, the Backstreet Boys released yet another album, “DNA,” which served to kick off their biggest arena tour in 18 years.
That tour, the DNA World Tour, will make a stop at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. The show is set for 8 p.m. with more details available at vivintarena.com/events/514.
To help prep you for the event, you can test your fan level with these 10 interesting facts about the Backstreet Boys through the years.
— By Kari Kenner, Daily Herald
Natives of Orlando, Howie Dorough and AJ McLean met each other and Nick Carter (of New York) through local auditions and soon formed a trio after realizing a shared passion and talent for music. Not long after that, Kevin Richardson also made his way to Orlando from Lexington, Kentucky, to work at Disney World, while pursuing his love for music in his free time. He met Dorough, McLean and Carter through a co-worker, and brought his cousin, Brian Littrell into the fold. Littrell was still in Kentucky at the time in a high school history class when he got a call to audition, and the next day was on a flight to Orlando to officially join and complete the band on April 20.
Named the Backstreet Boys after Orlando’s Backstreet Market, it was just over two weeks later that the five had their first show together, performing in front of over 3,000 at Sea World in Orlando. The rest, as they say, is history.
'Backstreet Boys Day'
Though the Backstreet Boys were formed in 1993, their original success came largely from international fans with the release of their first album, “Backstreet Boys” in May 1996 and second album, “Backstreet’s Back” in August 1997. The U.S. release of “Backstreet Boys” in 1997 certainly helped stir stateside popularity, and on Oct. 7, 1998, the group earned its own holiday with the declaration of “Backstreet Boys Day” in Orlando. The group received the keys to the city from the Orlando mayor as well as the holiday designation in honor of the wildly successful tornado relief concert they headlined that raised over $250,000.
That hasn’t been the only “Backstreet Boys Day,” though, with other festivities including recognition in Hollywood and Las Vegas.
On the sliver screen
Though clearly best-known for their musical forays, the Backstreet Boys have also made their way onto the silver screen and television screen with their 2015 documentary, “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of,” as well as cameos on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (1998), “Arthur” (2002), “This Is the End” (2013), “Undateable” (2016) and “Drop The Mic” (2017). Diehard fans also will want to note that Nick Carter, AJ McLean and Howie Dorough also starred in the Syfy channel’s post-apocalyptic zombie Western written by Carter, “Dead 7” (2016), alongside other boy band favorites including Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees) and Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick (NSYNC). A handful of other stars included members of O-Town, Everclear, Crazy Town, All-4-One, No Authority and Atlas Genius.
Cruising to success
If you’re a diehard fan of the Backstreet Boys and also in need of a solid vacation right about now, you probably wish you could have snagged a spot on one of the group’s five cruises through the years.
The group sold out its first cruise on Dec. 30, 2009, with a second sailing Dec. 25, 2010. Other cruises followed in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018 offering fans a balmy ocean experience with their favorite band.
Though the group is celebrating over 25 years as a band, not all of that time was actively spent touring or creating music together. In the early 2000s, the group went on hiatus, while Nick Carter pursued a solo career and AJ McLean went public with his struggles against addiction.
In 2004, the group started recording a new album (“Never Gone,” released in 2005), and followed up with several tours before in 2006 it was announced that Kevin Richardson had left the group to pursue other interests, leaving fans pretty “Inconsolable.” His return in 2012 brought the band full circle, and the group has remained together ever since.
Some may not know, but for a brief spell in the group’s quarter of a century together, they joined with New Kids on the Block to form NKOTBSB, the world’s biggest boy band supergroup, which was officially formed April 11, 2011. Shortly following that, NKOTBSB released a joint album, which debuted at No. 7 in the U.S., and launched a joint tour which included stops across North America, Europe, Asia and Austrailia. It was during that time Richardson rejoined the group.
Though the Backstreet Boys are far from record-breaking when it comes to quantity of albums, strong reception has led them to a lineup of hits that quickly soared to platinum level, most notably including their third album, “Millennium,” released in May 1999, which set the record for first-week sales in the U.S. with 1.1 million copies sold.
Other accolades include the 1998 Group Album of the Year Billboard Award in 1998 for “Backstreet Boys,” which was certified Diamond in 1999 for over 10 million units sold, and Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Album Artist of the Year and Album Artist Duo/Group of the Year at the 1999 Billboard Music Awards. Multiple group albums have been certified platinum, and in 2013, “A World Like This,” the group’s first album after Richardson’s return, debuted at No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200, making the group the first act since Sade and the only boy band to have nine U.S. Top 10 albums.
If a holiday to celebrate the Backstreet Boys isn’t enough, it’s also worth noting a few other landmark moments, including their performance of the American National Anthem at Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Florida, in 2001, their performance on Good Morning America’s Summer Concert Series in 2012 which marked the largest crowd the show had ever had (until 2018, when the Backstreet Boys broke that record again), their star-studded addition to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013 and their two-year, 80-show residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas from 2017-2019.
Now or never
“DNA” marked nearly six years since the last Backstreet Boys album release, yet it debuted at No. 1, marking the third-longest gap between No. 1 albums (accounting for Paul McCartney’s 36-year gap and Santana’s 28 years). The group’s popularity hasn’t waned much through the years, with over 100 million records sold worldwide clinching them the title of best-selling boy band of all time, and fan support bringing them top 10 debuts on Billboard for all of their first 10 albums – the only boy band with that recognition.
Merry Christmas to you
Though the Backstreet Boys released their first Christmas single, “It’s Christmas” in 1996 and “It’s Christmas Time Again,” in 2012, that’s pretty much been it in the way of official holiday-themed cheer from the group. Until now.
The group announced in April during a promotional event for the GRAMMY Museum’s “Backstreet Boys: The Experience” exhibit in Los Angeles that later this year they’ll be releasing their first, full-length holiday album.
Though details are pretty sparse at this point, Richardson revealed in an interview with KIIS-FM’s JoJo Wright that the album will be in process throughout the DNA World Tour, with both classic songs and originals offering up some Backstreet-style holiday cheer.