A new documentary is diving into the rise of the multi-billion dollar boy-band phenomenon in the 1990s and the man behind it all, Lou Pearlman, who was eventually revealed as one of the biggest fraudsters in the U.S.
Featuring interviews with former boy banders, including Aaron Carter, AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, and Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick of NSYNC, “The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story” documents the craze for the boy bands, who sold millions of records each week and played countless sold-out shows with Pearlman as their ringleader, who took a large cut of the profits.
“My heart sunk,” Bass says when he saw his first cheque. “I couldn’t believe the number I was looking at.”
“I sold 10 million albums. I could have made this much at Starbucks,” says Ashley Parker Angel of O-Town.
“Something isn’t adding up,” McLean says in the trailer for the YouTube Originals movie, which premieres at SXSW. “Lou’s getting paid, promoters are getting paid.”
Members of the Backstreet Boys were the first to file a lawsuit against Pearlman after Brian Littrell questioned why the band had made only $300,000 while Pearlman and his record company pocketed millions. Members of NSYNC and Aaron Carter soon followed suit.
“The deeper they dug, the worse it got,” adds Kirkpatrick.
Eventually, it was revealed that Pearlman, who died in prison in 2016, was running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the U.S., cheating investors out of $300 million over a 20-year period.
“The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story” will premiere on YouTube on April 3.