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The youngest member of 'N Sync, 27-year-old Justin Timberlake, was born and raised in Tennessee. When he was 11, he performed on Star Search, a show where children and teens sing for an audience and get scored by four judges. Unfortunately, he lost to Anna Nardona, one year his junior. But don't worry, future fans, the best is yet to come. You see, in the same studio that Star Search took place in was an open audition for Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, or MMC. Justin tried out and made it on the show for the next two seasons until it was cancelled. There, he met Maryland-native JC Chasez, now 31. JC had always been serious about music. He was very skilled on the piano at a young age and was a talented dancer. Though the two were five years apart, they became instant pals.
The show toured all over, but its home base was in Disneyworld in - you guessed it - Orlando. A guy who was friends with another Mouseketeer used to visit the set often. His name was Joey Fatone, Jr., now 31, who hailed from New York. Joey had been polishing his act since he was in diapers, for his parents' home movies, and put it to good use onstage beside Justin and JC. In addition to that gig, Joey made his big screen acting debut in a group shot in the movie "Matinee." He also held down a steady job at Universal Studios as a werewolf, singing and dancing before crowds of tourists. On the set of MMC, he immediately bonded with his future fellow teen idols.
Now let's move on to the oldest member and founder. Chris Kirkpatrick, aged 36, had been trying to form a music group with his buddies since being a psychology major in college, but none of them were serious. Until one day, when Lou Pearlman approached him after a show at Universal, where Chris worked in the Hollywood Hi-Tones, a doo-wop group. Pearlman said that he wanted Chris to put together a band and then he would finance and promote it. Chris immediately started looking for singers. He had known Joey from working with him at Universal. Joey then introduced him to Justin and JC, who had not beeen working since MMC had shut down. The four guys found they had something in common - their love of music and entertaining.
Pretty soon, Chris asked Justin, JC, and Joey if they wanted to form his group. They agreed, but soon realized that they needed a fifth person to sing bass. Joey recommended his high school choir buddy named Jason Watkins. He quickly joined and the band had their beginning. At first, Justin's mom Lynn handled the managerial work. It was also she who invented the name 'N Sync. She happened to comment on how "in sync" they were during one of their rehearsals. The guys liked the name, but they weren't totally convinced, so Lynn began playing with initials, trying to form something that made sense. Nothing worked until she tried the last letter of their first names. She came up with justiN, chriS, joeY, jasoN, and jC, or 'N Sync. The name stuck. But "teen idol" was never on Jason's To-Do list, so he quit. The band was now short a bass singer.
Justin put a call to his vocal coach, who promptly recommended the perfect low guy - her former student Lance Bass, from a small town in Mississippi. Now, Lance is 28, but back then, he toured his state with the Mississippi Show Stoppers and also a group called Attaché. He had plenty of practice performing, so when he got a call asking if he'd like to join four young guys in Florida forming a band, he left high school and flew to Orlando.
He met the other four and they recruited him instantly. But there was a problem - their name had been conceived using the last letters of their first names. Not wanting to be known as 'N Syec, they gave Lance a new nickname for promotional sake: Lansten. Now complete with five voices and a catchy name, they scheduled gigs and played for small-time crowds, including Lance's high school back in Mississippi. Pearlman found Johnny Wright to manage them and BMG and RCA records to promote them. Using the same technique that worked with BSB, the group took off for Europe to get big first and it worked. Their European album quickly went platinum and they returned home as worldwide heartthrobs. The rest is history!
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