Things You Didn't Know About The Backstreet Boys And How They Were Formed

As one of the boy bands that exploded onto the airwaves in the late 1990s, the Backstreet Boys seemingly became a phenomenon overnight. The stories behind how the Backstreet Boys formed show that while their hits may have come out of the blue, the path that drew them together was meticulously plotted.

The Backstreet Boys's backstory begins in Orlando, FL, in 1992. The brainchild of infamous music producer Lou Pearlman, it all started with an ad Pearlman placed in a local newspaper looking for singers. AJ McLean auditioned and won the first coveted spot. Then, an open call went out seeking young male performers who could cut it as boy band members.

In 1993, the group - McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell - finally came together. They played some bizarre gigs at SeaWorld as well as at a few shopping malls and restaurants before hitting it big in Europe. Soon, their music caught on stateside, and there was no stopping the group of harmonizing heartthrobs.

Even if you're a super-fan, there are lots of fun facts and things you never knew about the Backstreet Boys, their early years, and their subsequent rise, fall, and return. 


  • Their Name Came From A Flea Market

    The Velvet Underground took their name from a book about odd desires. Fall Out Boy is also the name of a minor character on The Simpsons. Coldplay is named after a collection of poems. And the Backstreet Boys? Their moniker came from a flea market in Orlando, FL, the Backstreet Market.

    Back in the day, it was a trendy meeting-place for teens, so given the group's Orlando connection, the name was a perfect fit for an up-and-coming boy band.

  • Howie Was The Group's Original Lead Singer

    Friends Howie Dorough and AJ McLean were the first two members of the group in the early 1990s, before the rest of Backstreet Boys signed on. Though their voices had nice harmony, Howie emerged as the duo's lead singer.

    After more members came onboard and the group officially became the Backstreet Boys, Dorough realized he wasn't the lead singer at all. Dorough later confessed to Popcrush:

    I was a little bit jealous of the situation - that I didn't have the opportunity to be the singer that I was before I started [in] the group. I had to really take a step back and say, "This is about being in a group. It's no longer the I, it's the we."

  • Ryan Gosling Could Have Become A Backstreet Boy

    Ryan Gosling began his career on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, but his life could have gone another direction entirely after he left the House of Mouse. During the years he was on the show, Gosling lived in the same Orlando apartment building as AJ McLean, and the two often hung out. Legend has it while the duo played basketball one day, McLean told Gosling about a new musical group he was forming and asked the Mousketeer to join.

    At the time, Gosling thought it was too late to capitalize on the boy band fad and dismissed the offer. It seems to have worked out in the end for the former neighbors.

  • Their Manager, Lou Pearlman, Was A Con Artist And Alleged Child Predator

    The late Lou Pearlman could be called the mastermind behind the Backstreet Boys. It was his classified ad in the Orlando Sentinel that eventually brought the group together, though many of the Boys knew one another previously and had already formed their own makeshift act. However, Pearlman expanded the group and gave them their boy band image and sound.

    At the same time, Pearlman was also secretly running an elaborate Ponzi scheme that lasted over 20 years and bilked investors - many of whom were elderly retirees - out of more than $300 million. He fled the United States in 2007 to avoid paying his debts, but authorities eventually tracked him down so he could be brought to justice.

    Later that year, Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In the midst of his trial, he was also accused of preying upon underage boys, charges he vehemently denied. Pearlman died in 2016 while in prison.

  • The Backstreet Boys Watched Explicit Movies At Lou Pearlman's House

    Adding to the allegations against Lou Pearlman, the Backstreet Boys members admitted they used to watch adult movies together at their manager's house. In a 2015 documentary made about the group, they discussed the matter in depth, even though some advised against it. Howie Dorough told Collider:

    A couple of my family members watched [the documentary] and said, "That line where you said you were at Lou’s house when you saw your first [adult movie], I don’t know if your mom would be cool with that." Kevin and I were both dealing with the thought of, "Do we want to put it out there or not?" But with the direction from the people around us, we wanted to be honest and real. These were things that we were going through, growing up in those early days. That’s what we wanted our fans to take away from this, if anything. We’re normal guys, and [adult movies are] what we do on the weekends.

  • The Beat Used In 'The Call' Is Inspired By A Fart

    The Beat Used In 'The Call' Is Inspired By A Fart
    Video: YouTube

    Proving testosterone levels are high with this bunch, the beat for one of the Backstreet Boys's biggest hits emerged after Howie Dorough let something else emerge - gas, to be exact. While producer Max Martin was giving Dorough the harmony for "The Call," Dorough farted. And apparently, it was a grand fart.

    "He farted not only on the beat, but in key," AJ McLean said. "So Max tweaked it and made it sound like one of his patented bass sounds, and it stayed on the record."