The Legend of Big Poppa (Fat Louie)

In published photographs of my home recording studio, hanging on a corner wall is a framed gold record. Yes, it is my gold record, not because I earned it, but rather because I purchased it. Originally, it was awarded to someone else. Here's the real story...

In 1965, while attending Western Oaks Elementary (3rd Grade) in Oklahoma City, my teacher Mrs. Byrd attempted to expand our young horizons by assigning us pen pals from another part of the country. She had contact information for some kids who had contributed to Children's Highlights magazine, and distributed names to the class. I drew a pudgy Jewish kid from Flushing, New York named Louis Pearlman. Flushing? What a ridiculous name for a city, and Pearlman, that was odd as well. So my eight year old self drafted a simple letter describing my school and home life, and asked him to describe the same. A few weeks later, a letter arrived postmarked Flushing (snicker) NY and inside was a wallet photo of Louis and a simple one page reply. It turns out that there is quite a delay in printing Highlights as young Mr. Pearlman was three years older than me. We had little in common and that was then end of that.

In 2002 on a flight from Dallas to San Jose I was reading an article in American Way magazine on the great boy band impresario Louis J. Pearlman from Flushing, New York! I couldn't believe my eyes- this guy was the manager of the Backstreet Boys, N'Sync and others including Britney Spears. I thought I would look like a cling-on if I contacted him out of the blue, he probably would not remember me, but how cool we both got in the music industry... Not too many Louis J Pearlmans from Flushing, New York who had Art Garfunkel for a first cousin.

Pearlman with members of US5, but more on that later.

Pearlman with members of US5, but more on that later.

In 2007 I read that Pearlman had been arrested in Indonesia while on the run from the Feds on fraud charges. We're talking Bernie Madoff-style fraud to the tune of $300 million dollars. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was ordered to sell of all of his possessions and property to pay off his victims.

A great deal of his personal property was auctioned off on eBay, including plaques, awards, pen sets and framed pictures, and Gold Records. The Gold Records for N'Sync and Backstreet Boys were getting really high bids on them, but I won an auction for a lesser known group, US5. I also won an auction for a silver private jet replica for Pearlman's desk, inscribed with his name from Lear or Gulfstream, the plane's manufacturer. I gave that away to my friend Gary Reynolds for his birthday because, well, it was unexpected and kinda cool...

August 22nd of this year, the news broke that Louis J Pearlman had passed away in prison of cardiac arrest. I could say any number of philosophical ramblings of a wasted life, or karma or other lessons learned, but I won't. I'm sorry his life turned out so differently than mine. My Forrest Gump series of life coincidences continues.