When you think of boy bands, it’s likely that *NSYNC is one of the first names that come to mind. When Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick joined forces in the 1990s, they would go on to become one of the biggest-selling boy bands of all time.
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The brainchild of Kirkpatrick and Lou Pearlman, former record producer and executive-turned-convict who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for running Ponzi schemes, *NSYNC was known around the world for such hits as “Bye, Bye, Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me,” “I Want You Back” and more. Below, we look at how the band got its name
Meaning Behind the Band Name
The band has Timberlake’s mother, Janet, to thank for the famous moniker. Throughout the early ’90s, the group was pieced together through Kirkpatrick, who brought his friend Timberlake on board. Timberlake then recruited Chasez, as they had worked together on The Mickey Mouse Club, the three of them becoming a trio. Chasez then brought in his longtime friend Fatone, one of the first people he met when he moved to Orlando, Florida, for The Mickey Mouse Club. Jason Galasso was the original bass singer but dropped out after several weeks of rehearsals. That’s when Timberlake’s vocal coach recommended Bass, officially forming *NSYNC.
“My mother came up with the name,” Timberlake said in a 2001 interview with CNN. “The first time we sang together, she goes, ‘Man, you guys sound really in sync.’ And we were like ding, ding, ding.” They got the spelling by taking the last letter of each of their first names: “N” from Justin, “S” from Chris, “Y” from Joey, “N” from Jason and “C” from JC.
Another important part of the band name is the asterisk at the forefront. Though technically written as NSYNC, sometimes the name is stylized as *NSYNC. This small, yet important detail was inspired by Israeli-British illusionist Uri Geller. Before they were household names, *NSYNC went to see a performance by Geller at Covent Garden in London where he shared a prophecy with them.
“He goes, ‘I see something. It has to do with suns or stars or something with astronomy in your career,'” Fatone recited in a 2015 interview with Huffington Post. “And it’s funny, a year later when we did the first album, for America, they had a star in it.”
*NSYNC’s self-titled debut album was first released in Germany, and after singles “I Want You Back” and “Tearin’ Up My Heart” started seeing chart success, the album was released in 1998 in the U.S. with a star in front of the band’s name.
“We sat down and I wrote, on a napkin, NSYNC, and I drew a star [in Covent Garden] and I told them, if they place that star on their first CD, they’re going to shoot up to No. 1,” Geller recalled of the cosmic moment.
In their more than half a decade together, the group released four studio albums. Their self-titled debut and 2000 endeavor No Strings Attached were both certified diamond for sales of more than 10 million copies. *NSYNC disbanded in 2002, but briefly reunited during a performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018.
Photo by Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images