Formed in Orlando, Florida, USA, in the mid-90s, white vocal quintet the Backstreet Boys comprises Kevin Richardson (b. Kevin Scott Richardson, 3 October 1972, Lexington, Kentucky, USA), Nick Carter (b. Nicholas Gene Carter, 28 January 1980, Jamestown, New York, USA), Brian 'B-rok' Littrell (b. Brian Thomas Littrell, 20 February 1975, Lexington, Kentucky, USA), A.J. McLean (b. Alexander James McLean, 9 January 1978, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA) and Howie D. (b. Howard Dwaine Dorough, 22 August 1973, Orlando, Florida, USA). Managed by former New Kids On The Block tour manager Johnny Wright and his wife Donna, they began their careers by making a breakthrough in Europe rather than their domestic market. Their success began in 1995 when the single 'We've Got It Goin' On' became a substantial hit in Germany, and eventually charted in the rest of mainland Europe. The band's first UK success came in June 1996, when 'Get Down (You're The One For Me)' reached number 14. Reissues of their earlier singles broke them into the UK Top 10 for the first time, with 'We've Got It Goin' On' reaching number 3 in August, and 'I'll Never Break Your Heart' climbing to number 8 in November (the previous year they had stalled at number 54 and 42 respectively). Their self-titled debut album repeated this success, although it was only made available in Europe, as was the 1997 follow-up, Backstreet's Back. The latter featured a cover version of P.M. Dawn's 'Set Adrift On Memory Bliss', but was otherwise another suite of teenage-orientated love songs and ballads. 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back)' became another huge hit, and was instrumental in breaking the group in the US when it reached number 4 in June 1998.
Further huge hits followed with 'Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)' and 'As Long As You Love Me'. Their self-titled US debut, compiling tracks from the European albums, went on to become the third bestselling record of 1998 in that country. They topped the UK singles chart in May 1999 with a new single, 'I Want It That Way', which also proved an enduringly popular US Top 10 radio hit. Millennium was a predictable success, topping the US album charts at the start of June 1999 and selling two million copies in just over three weeks. Despite increasing commercial pressure from new boy band 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys' popularity showed no sign of waning over the following year, with a string of hit singles followed by the bestselling Black & Blue, which topped the US charts in November 2000. They were forced to cancel several concerts dates the following summer when McLean checked into an alcohol rehabilitation centre. Nick Carter was the first member to embark on a solo career, releasing Now Or Never in October 2002.