The '90s will forever go down in pop culture history books as the decade of the boy bands. As for the most popular, *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys easily topped the list. But since they were often pitted against each other, you might not have known that they shared the same manager, a man named Lou Pearlman. According to Us Weekly, Pearlman died in prison on Friday, Aug 19; he was 62. Over the weekend, Justin Timberlake and Lance Bass remembered Pearlman by posting tweets saying goodbye to their former manager. Timberlake tweeted, "I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman." Meanwhile, Bass posted,
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
Although each wishes he rests peacefully, their messages both also contain a less-than-positive take on the man. Back in 2008, Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to a Ponzi scheme that, according to Us Weekly, "swindled 1,700 investors out of half a billion dollars." He was also the subject of sexual harassment and molestation allegations in a Vanity Fair piece in 2007, although Pearlman denied those claims in a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He told the magazine, "You know, the accusations that came out in that article, none of it was substantiated."
While it'd be remiss to ignore those troubling allegations about his past, Pearlman was undeniably a huge force in the music business during his lifetime. As a majorly successful manager, he's the reason that *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys became the mega-stars that they did and why they're still considered two of the best boy bands around (sorry, One Direction). Pearlman also worked with O-Town from Making The Band and LFO. So basically, he helped provide the soundtrack of your adolescence — and the nostalgia you feel anytime those tracks play on Spotify. Yet appreciating his contributions to the music world doesn't equate to condoning the behavior in his personal life, of course, as Timberlake and Bass' statements make clear.
Pearlman's long-lasting influence on the music industry will be remembered.