Lou Pearlman, Former Backstreet Boys and NSync Manager, Dies In Prison
Lou Pearlman, the former manager of pop powerhouses the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, has died in prison, according to reports. He died on Friday, Aug. 19, at age 62.
Upon news of his death, NSYNC member Lance Bass released a statement on his Twitter account.
“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 wout his influence. RIP Lou,” he tweeted.
— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) August 20, 2016
Pearlman started the label Trans Continental Records and signed Backstreet Boys as the label’s first act, picking the artists from a talent search. He later signed NSYNC and acts like Aaron Carter, Jordan Knight, and others.
Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were the biggest successes. Backstreet Boys are the best-selling boy band ever, and one of the best-selling musical acts ever, with 130 million records sold worldwide. NSYNC has sold over 50 million albums, making them the eighth-best-selling boy band ever.
But for all his success, Pearlman had a terrible reputation of as a child molester and a shady businessman. The former were longstanding rumors; in a 2014 interview with Hollywood Reporter, Bass said that Trans Continental Records employed young boy limo drivers.
“Those limo drivers would always be put into different boy bands. Then I’d hear rumors that he would molest the boys before they would even get into the groups,” Bass said. “I don’t know how much of that is true, but to me, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Pearlman denied the accusations.
But the charges of fraud stuck: all but one of the acts signed to Trans Continental Records sued him for fraud, with all of them either winning their cases or settling out of court. In 2006, he was charged with operating a Ponzi scheme and defrauding investors out of more than $300 million. Pearlman was found guilty in 2008 of conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding. He was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison, which is what he was serving when he died.
The cause of Pearlman’s death has not been reported.