Bad news, '90s boy band fans — YouTube Originals is releasing a documentary that's going to change the way you listen to the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC forever, and not in a good way. Including a series of revealing interviews with '90s pop stars Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, AJ McLean, Aaron Carter, and Ashley Parker Angel, among others, The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story will tell the story of the record producer and fraudster who was at the center of the boy band craze. Pearlman may have experienced an epic rise to fame, but the end of his life was definitely far from glamorous.
For those who aren't familiar with Pearlman and his schemes, his career in the music industry began when his blimp business literally crashed and burned (his first blimp, leased to Jordache, plummeted from the sky on its maiden voyage, and even with a name change, his business venture failed to recover). He pitched the idea of a charter plane service called Trans Continental Airlines to investors, but after New Kids on the Block chartered one of his planes, his interest shifted from flights to boy bands.
Trans Continental Records was founded by Pearlman in October of 1992, and by the next year, he had created the Backstreet Boys by mimicking the boy-band business model that helped form New Kids on the Block. Pearlman even brought on former NKOTB manager Johnny Wright to help him manage the group, and BSB experienced almost immediate success. For the next 20 years, Pearlman swindled investors with the invention of an airline company, German bank, and Florida accounting firm that only existed on paper. Attracted by the success of the music mogul, no one realized what Pearlman was up to until his Ponzi scheme had defrauded investors out of more than $300 million.
After pleading guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding, Pearlman was convicted and sentenced in 2008 to serve up to 25 years in prison. Shortly after, he began his prison sentence at the low-security Federal Correctional Institution Texarkana in Texas, and just a few years later in 2010, Pearlman suffered a stroke. He remained optimistic that he would redeem himself and made a triumphant return to the music industry, but he would never get that chance.
Pearlman was later moved to the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, FL, where he was still in federal custody when he died in August of 2016. According to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office, the cause of death was cardiac arrest, and he died in a Miami hospital where he was scheduled to have heart surgery. In the wake of his death, his former clients expressed a wide range of emotions, both condemning Pearlman for his fraudulent practices and thanking him for the career he gave them nevertheless. We can't wait to see what else the former pop stars have to say when The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story premieres on YouTube on April 3.