In 1995, JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake, former co-stars of the American children's TV show Mickey Mouse Club, were in Orlando, Florida, working on solo album projects with the same writing team. Across town at the Universal Studios theme park, Brooklyn native Joey Fatone was appearing as a dancing/singing werewolf in the Beetlejuice Graveyard Review, while Chris Kirkpatrick was belting out doo wop tunes in one of the park's eateries.
Looking to form a group, Chris called Justin, whom he had met previously at auditions. Justin called JC, and the trio ran into Joey at a local club. Justin's vocal coach in Memphis recommended a fifth member, James "Lance" Bass, and suddenly Backstreet Boys impresario Lou Pearlman who first saw the potential of boybands while leasing planes to early Nineties heart-throbs New Kids On The Block had a second outfit for his growing stable of teen-pop acts.
After signing with RCA/BMG Germany, the boys took off for the requisite European tour where their first single, I Want You Back
, became a club mainstay. Selling out concerts in Europe, Asia, and South America, the band returned Stateside in April 1998 for the release of their eponymously-titled debut album.
An opening slot on Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope tour followed, along with appearances on the Jay Leno Show
, the Ricky Lake Show
, and Total Request Live
forerunner, MTV Live
. When the Backstreet Boys backed out of a planned Disney Special in July 1998, Disney called on 'N Sync to fill the programming void. 'N Sync 'N Concert
aimed directly at pre-pubescent girls made them teen magazine staples overnight.
They weren't just tearing up hearts, however, they were ripping through records. No Strings Attached
hit shelves on March 21, 2000, moving an incredible 1.13 million imprints in one day. By week's end, Justin Timberlake and co had sold 2.4 million copies, shattering the previous record held by the Backstreet Boys' Millennium
was the highest selling album of 2000, and has notched up sales of over 13 million to date. So, after a 300-day tour to promote their eponymously titled debut album, the band were back on the road with the follow-up. A million tickets were snapped up in a single day, with every venue selling out immediately - except Nashville's Adelphia Coliseum, which sold out the following day.
The relationship with Lou Pearlman turned sour, however, and in July 1999, 'N Sync left their former financial backer and his Trans Continental Records, and jumped ship from RCA to teen-friendly Jive records home of Justin's ex-girlfriend Britney Spears and rival band Backstreet Boys. In response, BMG hit them with a $150-million-dollar lawsuit, claiming all rights to the group's moniker. The boys fought the case and emerged triumphant, more in control of their burgeoning profits and owners of their name.
A fourth-studio album they released a Christmas disc in November 1998 bowed in July 2001. Celebrity,
featuring the single Pop,
sold 1.88 million copies in its first week of release. The group now holds the number one and number two spots on the one week sales chart.