The Stateside successors of New Kids On The Block, the Backstreet Boys sold over 73 million records worldwide after their arrival on the pop scene in 1997, making them one of the most successful boy bands of all time.
Bandmembers AJ Mclean, Howie Dorogough and Nick Carter had already managed to land minor film and advertising roles when, in 1993, they bumped into each other during auditions held after a well-known talent spotter had placed a newspaper advert seeking members for a new band. The three passed with flying colours and were later joined by Kentucky cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell.
After setting the local Florida teen scene alight playing small gigs at high school dances and graduation nights, the boys released their eponymously titled debut album in 1996. It was an immediate success in Germany where the market was already clued up to boy bands such as Take That and Boyzone, but made no impact in the US.
"We were Americans, we were a fresh new sound for Europe," says Brian, explaining their warm reception there. "We had more of an edge, and unlike a lot of those other boy groups, we were more than just a bunch of pretty guys. We could sing".
In the ensuing years, the Backstreet Boys caused havoc among European teens, frequently eliciting scenes of Beatlemania proportions. Then, in 1997, following the band\'s scoop of an MTV Europe Award, folks back home started to pay attention. The handsome young sex symbols were truly on their way.
Despite being idolised by thousands of female fans on both sides of the Atlantic, however, the boys say love didn\'t come easy. Kevin married his long-term girlfriend, dancer Kristin Willits, in June 2000, followed three months later by his younger cousin Brian who walked down a candlelit aisle with actress Leighanne Wallace.
Following on from a hugely successful whirlwind trip to promote their third album in November 2000, the clean-cut bunch were back on the road the following year with a worldwide tour and released a greatest hits album in October 2001. Soon after it became apparent that they were taking an extended break.
"We had been touring pretty much non-stop for 7 or 8 years and we were almost living in a bubble; we had lost perspective on a lot of things," Kevin says. "You need to take care of yourself and rest and be able to reflect. This time off gave us a chance to recharge our batteries and step away and see what has happened in our lives, what we have accomplished and to be thankful for the opportunities that we have had and thankful for each other." Brian became a father during the break while AJ spent some time in rehab, Nick pursued solo projects and Kevin took on a leading role in the Broadway and West End run of Chicago.
To the delight of their fans they reunited to record their 2005 studio album Never Gone. In June 2006 the band announced the departure of Kevin - who left to pursue other interests. The now quartet are busy planing their next album.