Pearlman is best known for his hand in creating some of the biggest bands of the ’90s. In Florida in 1993, the producer brought together then-unknown singers AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough and Brian Littrell to create the Backstreet Boys. The band would go on to sell more than 130 million records.
In 1995, Pearlman also created *NSYNC. Along with making massive sales, *NSYNC can also be credited with jumpstarting Justin Timberlake’s road to stardom.
Pearlman saw a fall from grace, however, in 2006, when it was revealed he was running a $300 million Ponzi scheme through his Trans Continental companies. He admitted to defrauding thousands of people and about ten banks in a Orlando, Fla., court in 2008.
As Judge G. Kendall Sharp read through a 47-page plea deal, drawn up by prosecution and defense lawyers to avoid a lengthy trial, Pearlman agreed to the charges. He was sentenced to 25 years two months later.
Included in the victims of Pearlman’s scam were his friends, family and retirees, Sharp said, and he agreed to reduce Pearlman’s sentence by one month for every $1 million returned.
“Over the past nine months since my arrest, I’ve come to realize the harm that’s been done,” Pearlman said in a courtroom statement at the time. “I’m truly sorry and I apologize for what’s happened.”
Many of those whose careers were influenced by Pearlman took to social media over the weekend to pay tribute to the late producer, despite his sentencing. Timberlake tweeted, “”I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.”
Aaron Carter, Nick Carter’s brother and a solo artist who was also managed by Pearlman, posted on Twitter, “”#LouPearlman my old manager died in prison… Rip Lou not the best business guy really at all but he did discover me karma is real.”
Lance Bass, a member of *NSYNC, also tweeted about Pearlman. “Word is that #LouPearlman has passed away,” he wrote. “He might not have been a stand up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today without his influence. RIP Lou.”
Ashley Parker Angel, a member of O-Town, which was created through Pearlman’s MTV show “Making the Band,” also posted condolences and a picture of the producer with the band.