Gen. Douglas MacArthur once said, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” But what would he say about boy bands growing old?

The Barbershop quartets of the early 20th Century begat the doo wop groups of the ’40s and ’50s which eventually begat “boy bands” — vocal groups of young male singers, usually in their teenage years or in their twenties at the time of formation.

Through the years, boy bands have had three evolutions: The Jackson 5, the Osmonds and the Monkees of the 1960s; Menudo, New Edition and New Kids on the Block in the ’70s and ’80s, and then Boyz II Men, Take That, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC in the 1990s.

Some of the most popular, best-selling artists of the last 50 years have been classified as boy bands — selling tens of millions of albums around the world.

What happens to boy bands when the boys become men? As their voices grow deeper, do their record sales go shallow? As they lose their hair, do they lose their audience?

Apparently, boy bands never die. They just go to Vegas. Or reality TV.



Era: 1993 – 2000, 2000 – present.
Who:  A. . McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell.
Hits: “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” “I Want it That Way,” “As Long As You Love Me,” “Incomplete,” “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” and a couple dozen others.
Claims to fame: First group since Sade to have their first nine albums reach the Billboard 200 Top 10. They sold more than 145 million records worldwide, making them the best-selling boy band, and also one of the best-selling artists ever; they’ve won seven Grammy Award nominations, two American Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards and other honors. They got their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.
Where are they now: A.J. McLean and Kevin Richardson did a recon of Britney Spears’ show in Las Vegas, looking into the possibility of a Backstreet Boys residency in Vegas. In the meantime, Nick Carter wrote and stars in a new cheesy movie, “Dead 7,” airing on SyFy on April 1. The movie, which pits boy banders against killer zombies in the Wild West for a “Sharknado”-like result, teams Carter’s band members Howie D. and A.J. McLean as well as *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. “In the Wild West, to fight the undead, you have to resurrect ’90s boy bands,” says the trailer.

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Era: 1995 – 2002
Who:  Justin Timberlake, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, JC Chasez
Hits: “I Want You Back,” “Bye Bye Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me,” “Girlfriend,” “This I Promise You,” “Bum Bum,” “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You” and more.
Claims to fame: *NSYNC has sold more than 50 million albums — making them the eighth top-selling boy band. Their second album, “No Strings Attached,” sold a million copies on the first day of release and 2.4 million copies the first week.
Where are they now: They’re on a temporary hiatus after their 2002 Celebrity tour became a prolonged breakup. *NSYNC appeared at awards shows and the Super Bowl but never recorded or toured again.

Justin Timberlake has gone onto solo fame as a singer, actor, producer, clothier, restaurateur and comic. Among his many successes are “The Social Network,” “Bad Teacher” and Dick in a Box on “Saturday Night Live.” He married Jessica Biel in 2012 and they have a son together.

JC Chasez also started a solo career and has written songs for a number of artists including the Backstreet Boys.

Joey Fatone finished second on “Dancing With the Stars,” performed on Broadway in “Rent” and “Little Shop of Horrors” and became the emcee for “Family Feud” and has hosted other TV shows.

Chris Kirkpatrick’s Working Class Industry produces music and television. He also writes jingles and singles with his writing team the Doppelgangers.

Lance Bass almost became the first pop star in space, training to be a Russian cosmonaut in 2002, but his sponsorships fell through. In 2006 Bass came out as gay to People magazine and married Michael Turchin in 2014. His 2007 book “Out of Sync” became a New York Times best-seller, and pointed to Justin Timberlake as the reason *NSYNC never reunited.


boys ii men

Era: 1985 – present
Who: Currently: Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris. Past members: Michael McCrary, Marc Nelson.
Hits: “End of the Road,” “Motownphilly,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee,” “Water Runs Dry,” “Can’t Let Her Go,” “Your Home Is in My Heart,” “I Will Get There” and more. 
Claims to fame: The nucleus of the band was formed in 1985 at Philadelphia High School for the Creative Arts, where founding members Nathan Morris, Marc Nelson, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman practiced in the school bathrooms because of the great acoustics — and where they recruited Michael McCrary. They took their name from the New Edition song “Boys to Men” and it was New Edition member Michael Bivins who gave them their first break.

Through the 1990s, Boyz II Men songs spent a cumulative 50 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Top 100 list — making them fourth overall for time spent at #1, behind Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey.

Where are they now: Boyz II Men have been swingin’ and singin’ non-stop since the mid-’80s, releasing studio albums every two or three years since 1991. In 2013 Boyz II Men had a regular gig at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They also toured in the summer of 2013 with New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees. Most recently, they appeared in “Grease: Live” as the teen angels and sang “Beauty School Dropout.”

Wanya Morris made his debut last week on the 21st season of “Dancing With the Stars.”



Era: 1997 – 2003, 2012 to now
Who: Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre
Hits: “I Do, because of You,” “The Hardest Thing,” “True To Your Heart,” “My Everything,” “Give Me Just One Night,” “Invisible Man,” and more.  
Claim to Fame: All members are from Ohio, but they catalyzed in Los Angeles. They snuck backstage at a Boyz II Men concert and performed on the air. In 1997, they signed with Motown, which they felt set them apart from other boy bands and teen acts. 98 Degrees — aka 98͒° — have sold over 10 million records worldwide, and have had eight Top 40 singles in the US.
Where Are They Now: 98 Degrees reunited in 2013 after a 10-year hiatus. In 2013 98 Degrees toured with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men on a tour named “The Package.” In 2013 they released their 2.0 album.

Of the original members, Nick Lachey has been the most visible, starring with Jessica Simpson in the reality TV series “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica.” He has released four solo albums: “SoulO,” “What’s Left of Me,” “A Father’s Lullaby” and “Soundtrack of My Life,” and had a recurring role as Leslie St. Claire on TV show “Charmed.”