Before One Direction, there was the band the Backstreet Boys, the biggest-selling boy band of all time. Now, after more than 20 years together (and sometimes apart), the Boys are back with a 20th anniversary album, tour and racy tell-all documentary.
1. Brian had open-heart surgery at 23 years old
In 1998, Brian had major surgery and the record label neglected to cancel any shows. “It wasn’t about me as a person and my health. We were a big stack of cash that they were going to have a piece of at the end of the day,” he said.
2. Kevin reveals the real reason he quit the Backstreet Boys
In the documentary, Kevin says, “In 2006, I quit the group. I just wanted to be a normal guy for a while. I didn’t feel inspired as much as I used to. I didn’t love it, I didn’t have the passion I used to have. Therefore, I left.”
3. AJ’s “coke coma”
In Boston in 2001, the bandmates were supposed to throw out a first pitch at a baseball game and sing the national anthem. AJ had done so much cocaine, he couldn’t make it.
4. Kevin to AJ: “You’re dead to me”
When Kevin discovered AJ was on drugs, he managed to persuade AJ to go to rehab, possibly saving his life.
5. No current record deal?
Nick reveals the precarious current state of the band, saying, “We don’t have a record deal. It’s awesome, it’s like starting over again. Having the freedom to create something from scratch.”
6. New album funded with Backstreet Boys’ own money
Howie opens up about their new, possibly frightening, business model, saying, “This is something we felt we wanted to do ourselves. It’s our money, so this new chapter we’re embarking on is exciting. At the same time, crazy and scary.”
7. Backstreet Boys didn’t make any decisions back in the day
Nick talks about how the old days with the band used to be. “We used to show up, and they’d say ‘go in and sing this’ and we’d go in and sing it. The producer would make it sound magical. The record executives picked the singles; there was no decision-making. Now it’s like, ‘I do have a voice, I want to make music for me, I want to make music for our fans. I want to make everybody happy.'”
8. First salary was $75 per week
When the band’s creator and manager, Lou Pearlman, first formed the Backstreet Boys, he gave each member $75 a week.
9. Nick was almost a Mouseketeer
Nick revealed he was offered a $50,000 contract to be on The Mickey Mouse Club the same time he was offered to become a Backstreet Boy. “My mother gave me the choice. I don’t know why she left that decision up to an 11-year-old child, but it just kind of happened,” he said.
10. Brian discusses his vocal cord disorder
In the movie, Brian gets emotional as he discusses his vocal tension dysphonia — the tightening of the muscles around the vocal cords, which cause them to work incorrectly.
11. Where the Backstreet Boys first saw two girls kissing
As Howie reminisced about the old days, hanging out at their manager Lou’s mansion, he said, “At the end of the night, we’d pull out one of Lou’s porns and watch one of those every so often. The first time I’d ever seen two girls kissing each other was on one of Lou’s videotapes.”
12. Kevin opens up about his father’s cancer and death
Kevin found out his father was sick after he moved to Florida, but soon raced home to be with his dad. Shortly after Kevin returned home, his father died.
13. Nick and Brian were inseparable back in the day
“They were like the Bobbsey Twins when it came to comedy and being clowns and pranksters,” AJ said.
14. They admit the real reason they learned to speak German
Howie discussed spending the early days of touring in Europe, mostly doing shows in Germany. “The first three years we were there so much, we all ended up having German girlfriends. If we wanted to communicate the international language of love, we’d need to learn some words real fast.”
15. AJ had a stutter and a lisp as a kid
Because of his lisp and stutter, AJ said he played Dopey in Snow White because the character was mute. He also said his stutter still comes out if he’s telling a lie.
16. Manager Lou Pearlman created their competition
Pearlman created the other famous boy band, *NSYNC. Many of the Backstreet Boys felt betrayed by him.
17. Lou Pearlman was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme
Turns out, their once-trusted manager was a crook and was arrested in 2007. The incident was an emotional letdown for all the Boys. Pearlman is now in prison.
Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of opens in theaters and VOD today.