By 1997, pop music was returning to the forefront in United States, with the likes of the Spice Girls. Jive and Pearlman decided to bring the boys back to their home country after 8.5 million discs had been sold worldwide. They began recording their second album, Backstreet’s Back, releasing “Quit Playing Games With My Heart” in August, coinciding with the release of their second international album, the band released a self-titled album in the US which collected songs from both international albums. They hit big on the U.S. charts, and debuting at #1 in Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Finland and Austria. The two albums sold over 28 million copies worldwide (14 million copies in the U.S.).In December 1997, the band embarked on a 60-city, 20-country tour. In 1997, Littrell (soon joined by McLean, Richardson and Dorough) brought a lawsuit against Lou Pearlman, in which they claimed that Pearlman had hidden and misused money earned by the band. The case was settled in 1998.
In 1998, Littrell underwent open heart surgery in the middle of their sold-out US 39-city tour, at the insistence of his then girlfriend (and now wife) Leighanne Wallace; he had twice postponed the surgery in the past. He had been struggling with a heart murmur since he was born, almost dying at the age of 4 due to a bacterial infection. Littrell needed about 8 weeks to recover from the surgery. Shortly after, the Backstreet Boys cancelled an appearance in Minnesota after learning that Howie Dorough’s sister had died of lupus. In October 1998, the band received the keys to the city from the mayor of Orlando in honor of the tornado relief concert the group headlined in March.
On February 17, 1999, the Boys received their first Diamond award from the RIAA for shipment of 10 million copies of their self-titled album. At that time, they had hired a new manager team called “The Firm”, famous for managing bands including Limp Bizkit and Korn. Along with their new management team, the Backstreet Boys sued Pearlman several more times, until he renegotiated the settlement on terms more favorable to the band. Executives of the Firm stated that the Backstreet Boys had bought out Pearlman’s stake in the band, but he denied this.
Track Listing of Album Backstreet Back:
1. We’ve Got It Goin’ On
2. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
3. As Long As You Love Me
4. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
5. All I Have To Give
6. Anywhere For You
7. Hey, Mr. DJ (Keep Playin’ This Song)
8. I’ll Never Break Your Heart
10. Get Down (You’re The One For Me)
11. Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
12. If You Want To Be Good Girl (Get Yourself A Bad Boy)