By Hayden Wright
The man who assembled *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys has died at age 62 in federal prison. Despite his protegés’ contributions to late 90s teen pop, Lou Pearlman was serially accused of defrauding talent of earnings, losing lawsuits or settling out-of-court with virtually every singer and group he managed. In his last act, Pearlman was investigated, charged, and sentenced to 25 years in prison for operating a $300 million Ponzi scheme.
Pearlman’s other acts included Aaron Carter, O-Town, and LFO. Rolling Stone reports that molestation allegations swirled around him through more than a decade of managing young male talent. The businessman entered the music industry following failed aviation ventures, and was a cousin of Art Garfunkel. He aimed to create more successful groups following the model of New Kids on the Block.
In his ultimate undoing, the investment firm he founded was discovered to represent companies which only existed on paper. He fled to Bali to escape charges in 2007 but was found and returned to face trial in the United States. Despite Pearlman’s checkered history, former music associates paid tribute to their complicated mentor on Twitter:
I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.—
Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 21, 2016
Mixed emotions right now, but RIP Lou Pearlman.—
Chris Kirkpatrick (@IamCKirkpatrick) August 21, 2016
Lance Bass (@LanceBass) August 20, 2016