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The Backstreet Boys are touring. Here's a reminder of where those 26 years went.

Ah, the ’90s. T’was a simpler albeit far less convenient time. A time of Discmans and So Fresh CDs, posters torn out of tiny pop magazines and Blu Tacked onto bedroom walls.

A time that gave us fashion we’d rather forget (overalls, anyone?), but music that will be stuck in our heads forever. Few artists represent that little slice of history better than The Backstreet Boys.

Twenty-six years after they first formed, the world’s highest-selling boy band (100 million records) are planning their latest lap around the world. The 2019 DNA world tour will close in Australia in May 2020, and tickets are due on sale on September 23 (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth).

In the meantime, let’s take a moment to reflect on where those two-and-a-half decades went.

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The Backstreet Boys: an origin story.

The Backstreet Boys were friends first. Yes, they were thrust together by producers to manufacture a group with broad commercial appeal, but before all that… Howie Dorough, AJ McLean and Nick Carter were just a humble trio of Florida teens who realised they could harmonise.

Kentucky boy Kevin Richardson was tacked on in 1990. But their true beginnings came in 1992 when millionaire producer, Lou Pearlman, placed an ad in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper inviting singers to audition for a new group. (Pearlman went on create *NSYNC, Take 5 and Aaron Carter.)

According to Vanity Fair, dozens of teenage boys auditioned at Pearlman’s home, and AJ was the first cast. “Eventually, in January 1993, Pearlman held an open casting call in which hundreds of young performers danced and sang at his blimp hangar in Kissimmee, south of Orlando.”

The other three were also signed off by Pearlman. Although Howie nearly missed out by virtue of the fact that he auditioned under a stage name, Tony Denetti. Having not heard back after his original audition, a new agent encouraged him to try again two months later: “I went to this place… they were like, ‘Tony! Oh my God, we lost your picture. We were trying to find a Tony Denetti in the phone book,” he told Popcrush.

Humble beginnings. Image: Getty.
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The four were grouped together along with Kevin's cousin, Brian Littrell, with whom Kevin had been singing in church choirs and at festivals since childhood. He flew to join the group in Florida on April 20, 1993. And the band was born.

At the time, Nick was just 13. AJ was 15. Brian, 18. Howie, 19. And Kevin, 21.

The name? That was Pearlman's, too. It was after the Backstreet flea market in Orlando, a popular youth hangout at the time.

Becoming the best-selling boy band in the world.

The Backstreet Boys' first show was at SeaWorld in May 1993, before they hit the road to perform in malls around the States.

But it was the European market that embraced them first. Months before anyone in the US or Australia recognised their name, they had a top-five single in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, with 'We've Got It Goin' On'. (Remember that one? Just.)

They finally cracked the US with the second album, Backstreet's Back ('Everybody' and 'As Long As You Love Me') in 1997, and cemented their success with Millennium ('I Want It That Way', 'Larger than Life', 'Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely', and 'The One').

But as they were about to embark on their Black and Blue tour in 2001 ('The Shape of My Heart', 'The Call', 'More Than That'), AJ's drinking escalated to dangerous levels. After the group confronted him, he asked them to postpone the shows so he could enter recovery.

"It took him awhile to be man enough, to come to us and say, 'Listen guys, I have a problem that I need to take care of,'" Brian told MTV in 2001. "It was important to us as a group to catch it now because we're worried about his safety and his wellbeing. You could hear a horror story on the news about something he'd done, and we didn't want to take that chance. We didn't want to allow him that opportunity."

After his rehabilitation, they started performing again.

But in 2002, it all crumbled.

Off Again. On again. Off again. On again.

To the disappointment of their millions of fans around the world, the group went on hiatus after Nick Carter chose to work on a solo career with their record label.

It took Oprah – who else? – to bring them back together almost two years later. During an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show in which AJ opened up about his addiction and sobriety, the host surprised him with his bandmates who wanted to show their support.

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Though they reunited and started recording again, it lasted just two more years before, in 2006, Kevin announced he was leaving the band. The rest continued on, releasing multiple albums and touring, held up briefly in 2009 when Brian contracted swine flu.

Meanwhile, the man who made them into an act, Pearlman, was sentenced to 25 years behind bars in 2008 for operating one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in US history. BSB had already distanced themselves from him 11 years earlier, when they and *NSYNC sued him for mismanaging their funds.

Still got it. The boys in 2019. Image: Getty.

Through it all, the band found their way back together. Kevin returned, like we all knew he would, in 2012.

For the past two years the group has been in residency at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, one which they reportedly plan to continue after their upcoming DNA world tour. The Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life has been the fastest-selling concert residency in Vegas history, earning more than $36.2 million in revenue through more than 263,000 attendees.

"It's kind of crazy because it feels like the stars are kind of aligning again for us in a way," Nick Carter told ET last year. "Because if you think about where we came from and how we started, it's like a miracle that we would've met each other. That we would've bonded and connected the way we did."

For info on tickets to The Backstreet Boys' DNA world tour visit their website.


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