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     Backstreet Boys incredible saga began four years ago in Orlando, Florida. It was there that high school students AJ McLean,Howie Dorough and junior high student Nick Carter began to run into each other at local acting auditions. The three young menbecame friends and formed a singing group, inspired in part by Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd. The trio then decided toexpand, by two. They met Kevin Richardson through a mutual friend. After scouring Orlando for a fifth member, Kevin thoughtof his cousin Brian Littrell, who was in Kentucky. A phone call was made, Brian relocated and The Backstreet Boys were readyto write the first chapter of their story.

     At first the group did some of their favorite cover tunes, a practice that continues even today. Laughs Brian, "We still doShai's "If I Ever Fall In Love," but eventually they began to find their own distinctive sound. Stressing their strong harmoniesand a blend of pop and R&B, the fivesome began to try to secure a record deal. "We'd go to local labels and sing acappella intheir foyers," recalls Howie. "We'd sing anywhere, for anybody."

   The hard work began to pay off and within six months of forming, BSB had become one of Florida's hottest live acts. Theyplayed everything from a high school gymnasium, Grad Night at Sea World, to an opening slot for Brandy. With all that stageexperience and an indie single "Tell Me That I'm Dreaming" under their belts, BSB started writing the next chapter. Theirmanager Donna Wright was friends with David McPherson of Jive Records. After pleading with him to hear the band, shecalled him during one of BSB's dates, held up her cell phone and let him hear the pandemonium the group generated. "We gotsigned right after that," smiles Brian.

   In 1995, BSB began to lay down tracks and released "We've Got It Going On." The song took off in England and throughoutthe continent, where BSB's brand of R&B-Pop was just gaining a foothold. "Over there they had a bunch of what's called "boygroups,' so we had a ready made market," explains Brian, "but since we were Americans, we were a fresh new sound forEurope. We had more of an edge, and unlike a lot of those other boy groups, we were more than just a bunch of pretty guys.We could sing." In a short period of time, "I'll Never Break Your Heart" began to climb the charts. Its success laid thefoundation for what was to come.

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