Kevin Richardson (musician)

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Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardson on tour.jpg
Richardson on tour, December 4, 2005
Born Kevin Scott Richardson
(1971-10-03) October 3, 1971 (age 45)
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names
  • Kevin S. Richardson
  • "Train"
  • "Boo"
  • "Pumpkin"
Alma mater Estill County High School
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • model
Years active 1993–present
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Spouse(s) Kristin Richardson (m. 2000)
Children 2
  • Ann Littrell
  • Jerald Wayne Richardson, Sr.
Musical career
Genres Pop
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
Associated acts
Signature of Kevin Richardson.svg

Kevin Scott Richardson (born October 3, 1971)[1] is an American singer, songwriter, actor and model, best known as a member of the Backstreet Boys. Richardson was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame along with his cousin and bandmate Brian Littrell on April 10, 2015.[2]

Early years[edit]

Kevin Scott Richardson was born on October 3, 1971 in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Ann C. (née Littrell), homemaker, and Jerald Wayne Richardson, Sr, an outdoors man and a handyman.[3] He is the youngest of three boys, and is a first cousin of fellow Backstreet Boys member Brian Littrell.

Growing up, Kevin lived on a 10-hectare farm with his parents and two older brothers (Jerald Wayne Jr. and Tim), one of whom is a model, for 9 years and later lived in a log cabin at Cathedral Domain Camp, a church-owned youth camp which his father ran, until he was 18.[4][5] He spent his childhood in the outdoors, and could already ride a horse at age 4. When he was a kid in school he enjoyed horseback riding, dirt bikes and was drawn to sports, such as playing little league football, which led him to play football in high school and being captain of his team called the Estill Engineers. He also got the nickname Train because he ran through guys like a train on the team.[6][7] He is of Irish-Italian, English, Scottish, some German and Indian.

At a young age, Richardson loved music and started learning how to play the piano by ear when he was 9 years old. He sang in his church's choir since he was a child and was a part of his community and high school theater. He got his first keyboard when he was a high school freshman and it was just a short time before he was entertaining in restaurants and at weddings in a band called Paradise, which did covers of Bobby Brown and Journey.[8] He also adored performing, participating in the school theater, was a member of the school's drama club, and sang in chorus. Of his two loves, acting and music, the latter ultimately won out. he was also a member of the chess club and participated in various school plays such as Bye Bye Birdie and Barefoot in the Park at Estill County High School in Kentucky, where he was voted "Most Popular" and "Best Looking".[3] He also been in a lot talent shows, one where he sang a duet with a female classmate and played in a band where he was on the drums.[9] At age 19, his father died on August 26, 1991 after a 2-year battle with cancer.[9]


Early career[edit]

After graduating high school in 1990, Richardson, intent on leaving his mark in the show business world, was torn between entering the Air Force to become a pilot or following his love of music. With encouragement from his father, Richardson flew to Orlando, Florida with his best friend Keith, where he earned a living as a model, writing music, performing in dinner clubs, taught ballroom dancing as a certified Latin and ballroom dance instructor and was a movie extra for the movie My Girl. In Florida, he got a job as a cast member and performer at Walt Disney World. He played various characters including Aladdin, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Prince Eric, Tigger The Rocketeer, Goofy, and Sebastian the Crab in the Little Mermaid show. He was also a backstage tour guide. At nights, he did dinner theater, playing an Italian gangster in a musical review performing various songs from the musical "Chicago," "Guys and Dolls" and "Cabaret."[3][10]

Then came the day in June 1991 that Richardson got the call from his mother, telling him that his father had taken a turn for the worse with his colon cancer.[11] (Richardson's father was originally diagnosed in October 1990.) Richardson dropped everything and moved back home to Kentucky where he got a job and stayed with his family. On August 26, 1991, just two months later, Richardson's father lost his battle with cancer.[12] This was a devastating blow to Richardson, as he had lost not only his father, but a friend and mentor. He stayed in Kentucky for almost a year, then after encouragement from his mother, he went back to Florida to follow his dreams of a music career. He got a job with a friend who had written a musical, he gave him a part and helped him get back on his feet again. Richardson was once engaged to his high school sweetheart, Beth, when he was 19, but they decided they were too young to get married and weren't ready, plus Beth fell in love with someone else and broke his heart.[13]

In March 1993 Richardson was going to auditions at MGM Studios when a friend that he met at a dance club, who is also a roommate of his girlfriend's friend, told him about "Three guys who sang a capella all the time". So, after seeing an ad about a new vocal group called Backstreet Boys, he went to check them out, auditioned, and joined the group. Soon after, he brought his cousin Brian into the mix.

Backstreet Boys[edit]

Main article: Backstreet Boys

In 1993, Richardson joined a new group called Backstreet Boys. After he joined, the group was still looking for one more member so Richardson called Brian Littrell, who is Richardson's maternal first cousin (Littrell's father and Richardson's mother are brother and sister), to ask him to audition for the group. Littrell was immediately accepted, and the next day he joined the group. After Littrell joined, the quintet took shape.

Richardson is the oldest member of the group and often known as the big brother of the group. In November 1999, he was named People Magazine's Sexiest Pop Star and the band signed a new $60 million deal with Jive records.[6] Richardson was a part of the group until June 2006, when he announced his departure from the group to pursue other projects and to start a family and "move on with the next chapter of [his] life." He recorded five albums with the group in the span of 13 years. On June 23, 2006 he issued the following statement on the band's official website:

After 13 years of what can only be described as a dream come true, I have decided that it is time to leave the Backstreet Boys. It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life. Howard, Brian, Alex and Nick will always be my little brothers and have my utmost love and support. I would like to thank the Backstreet fans for all the beautiful memories we have shared together and look forward to including you in the next phase of my life. I wish my brothers continued success and look forward to their new album.[14]

On November 23, 2008, for the first time Since leaving the group, Richardson rejoined his former bandmates on stage in Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles. He performed the encore, "Shape of My Heart" with the group.[15][16]

The Backstreet Boys, including Richardson, appeared on the November 4, 2010, episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Richardson first appeared in a pre-taped segment in which they surprised a fan who thought she was merely being flown in to participate in a "Backstreet Boys' Biggest Fan" contest. Moments later, Richardson joined the group in the show's studio and performed "I Want It That Way" live with them.[17]

On July 1, 2011, Richardson again joined the Backstreet Boys on stage at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, as part of the NKOTBSB Tour. He sang "I Want It That Way" with the group and the mash up at the end of the show along with NKOTB members.[18]

On the October 25, 2011, episode of On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Richardson stated that he was going to be at a Backstreet Boys beach party in Nassau, Bahamas, on December 3, 2011. The party is part of the group's second annual cruise. He also appeared during the groups annual cruise in December 2011. He attended the beach party and the cruise concert. In addition to being in the party, Richardson performed several songs with the group on the boat in the evening ("Drowning" and "I Still..."). In the announcement, he also stated that he would love to perform with the group again on a more regular basis.[19] The group had hinted a possible return for Richardson during the beach party but nothing was confirmed.

Several months later prior to the start of the group's tour in Europe with New Kids on the Block, Richardson had flown out to London with Nick and AJ in April 2012. Fans at the airport asked if he was back with the group and why he was with them. Richardson stated that he was only there to hang out with them. On April 29, 2012, during a live show in London, England, Backstreet Boys confirmed that Richardson was back permanently with the group and would be recording a new album with them in July 2012. Fans all around the world got to witness this announcement live as it happened. As it was broadcast live in cinemas in Europe and online for the rest of the world.[20] Richardson also appeared along with the group on Good Morning America on July 17, 2012, announcing his return, their new album, and their first performance as a five-piece group for the first time together since 2006 at the morning show's Summer Concert Series on August 31, 2012.[21] It was also his first TV appearance with the group since he returned. Regarding his return, Richardson gave the following statement why he had left the group: "I'm a person that always follows my heart and follows my gut and my heart said now's the time. It just felt right. I feel inspired to make music again with these guys and you know, when I left, it had nothing at all to do with our relationship. It just had to do with me just needing to be inspired, so I had to step away for a while."[22][23]

In an interview with On Air with Ryan Seacrest on July 24, 2012, Richardson explained that he came back to the group because he realized how much joy singing and music gives him. He cited his holiday show with Rob Gonzalez called "Home for the Holidays" (December 18, 2011 in Los Angeles) which helped him rediscover his love of music and how much he missed it.[24]

In July 2016, the Backstreet Boys reunited and performed on ABC's Greatest Hits.[25]

Solo career[edit]

In 2003, Richardson composed the soundtrack of an animated movie, The Spirit Bear, which was due out in 2010.[26]

On December 18, 2011, he headlined a Christmas concert titled "Home for the Holidays" with Rob Gonzalez. The concert was hosted by Montage Beverly Hills luxury hotel and it benefited the Angeles Clinic Foundation of Los Angeles.[27]

In 2012, Richardson began working on his first solo album. During the 2013 cruise when each member had their own individual events, Richardson performed an event called Cover Story where he performed various covers of songs. He had mentioned that he would release an album called Cover Story. The album would include songs that have influenced him over the years. The album was supposed to be released in 2012[28] but was delayed as he returned as an active member of the Backstreet Boys the same year. On May 9, 2015 he posted onto YouTube a new track he recorded from his Cover Story album that he planned to release in 2015. The song was "She's Got A Way", a cover of the Billy Joel song.

Modeling career[edit]

He has been a model for Versace.[29] He also modeled for Vogue and is a brand ambassador for TAG Heuer.[30]

Acting career[edit]

Along with the rest of the Backstreet Boys, Richardson has made appearances on Arthur, Sesame Street, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and This Is the End.

In 2003, during Backstreet Boys' hiatus, Richardson played the role of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of Chicago. His performance got rave reviews and surprised even the hardest of critics.[31] and in 2003, he made an appearance on Punk'd where he got punk'd by Ashton Kutcher.

He, along with Howie D., appeared in Krystal Harris's music video "Supergirl!", from The Princess Diaries soundtrack.

On November 14, 2006, several months after he left the Backstreet Boys, he returned to New York City with many Chicago alumni for the 10th anniversary of the show.[32] From late November to December 3, 2006 Richardson played the role of Billy Flynn in Toronto, and from February 4 to March 4, 2007, he played the role in Japan. He also returned to Japan to play the role in late September and early October 2009.

Richardson starred in his first TV movie in the 2009 Christian drama Love Takes Wing, based on a book by Janette Oke. He played the role of Cyrus.[33]

In 2010, Richardson starred in The Bloody Indulgent, a vampire themed musical film.[34] In the same year he also starred opposite Susan Traylor, Daniela Sea, Pleasant Gehman, Garrett Swann and Michael Maize in Steve Balderson's feature film drama The Casserole Club.[35] Richardson received an Independent Vision Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Casserole Club at Vision Fest in New York City in 2011.[36][37]

Also in 2011, he starred in a short film, Unwound.[38] It is an entry for Producers Guild of America premiere Weekend Shorts Event contest to benefit the Debra Hill Foundation. The film only took 51 hours from script to final cut.[39]

In 2013, Richardson and the other Backstreet Boys appeared as fictional versions of themselves in the comedy film This Is the End.[40]

In 2016, Richardson starred in If I Could Tell You, a short movie about infertility, where he also talked about his struggle in having children.[41]


Just Within Reach (JWR) was formed by Richardson and started in honor of his father Jerald Wayne Richardson. Richardson wanted to name the foundation after his father, who he lost to cancer. Richardson formed the JWR foundation to provide environmental education and promote personal responsibility and accountability with regard to the health of the Earth. The foundation was founded in January 2001. He has also run with the Olympic torch for the foundation in Los Angeles, California, on January 15, 2001 and did various events for the foundation. It has been many years since he has done anything with the foundation and reportedly closed the foundation.[4][42]

Personal life[edit]

Richardson has been married to Kristin Kay Willits, a dancer, actress and model, since 2000. They met when they both worked at Disney World. Kristin was playing the character of Belle from "Beauty and the Beast." Kristin was also featured in one of the Backstreet Boys earliest videos "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and one of the dancers at the American Music Awards in 1999. Their engagement was announced on MTV in February 2000,[43] and the couple married on June 17, 2000, at Lee County's Cathedral Domain in rural eastern Kentucky. Together they have two sons: Mason Frey was born on July 3, 2007 and Maxwell Haze was born on July 10, 2013.[44][45]


TV series & Movies
Year Film Role Notes
1991 My Girl Bumper Car Driver
1998 Sabrina the Teenage Witch Himself Episode: "Battle of the bands"
1998–1999 Saturday Night Live Himself and Musical guest "Julianne Moore/Backstreet Boys" (Season 23: episode 16)
"Sarah Michelle Gellar/Backstreet Boys" (Season 24: episode 19)
2002 Arthur Himself Episode: "Arthur, It's Only Rock and Roll" Guest Voice
2002 Sesame Street Himself
2005 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Himself Musical Guest With The Backstreet Boys
2009 Love Takes Wing Cyrus
2010 The Casserole Club Conrad Bainbridge Independent Vision Award - Best Actor
2012 The Bloody Indulgent Burt
2012 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Himself Musical Guest with Backstreet Boys
2013 This Is the End himself With the Backstreet Boys, performing "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"
2014 I Heart Nick Carter Himself minor
2016 If I Could Tell You Derek

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Netter, Matt (January 1999). Backstreet Boys * Aaron Carter. New York: Pocket Books. p. 60. ISBN 0-671-03539-8. 
  2. ^ Papadatos, Markos (April 12, 2015). "Backstreet Boys members inducted into Kentucky Music Hall of Fame". Retrieved April 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Kevin Richardson Biography". Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Kevin Richardsons Interview by Chet Cooper". Ability Magazine. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Cathedral Domain celebrates 100 years of welcoming visitors". kentucky. 
  6. ^ a b "Kevin Richardson: Sexiest Pop Star". People. 52 (19). November 15, 1999. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Kevin Richardsons Interview by Chet Cooper". 
  8. ^ "Kevin Richardson". Backstreet Boys Gold Collectors Series Entertainment Magazine. 
  9. ^ a b Golden, Anna Louise (September 15, 2015). Backstreet Boys: They've Got It Goin' On!. Macmillan. ISBN 9781250098207. 
  10. ^ "Kevin Richardson / Oldest Backstreet Boy goes to Broadway to show he's more than just an aging teen pop star". SFGate. 
  11. ^ "My dad died of cancer". TOTP Magazine. 
  12. ^ Heure, Derniere. "The Tragedy That Marked Kevin Richardson". Derniere Heure Article (March 15). 
  13. ^ "Kevin Richardson". BRAVO magazine. 
  14. ^ "Statement to our fans from the Backstreet Boys regarding Kevin Richardson departure from the group". Backstreet Boys. June 23, 2006. Archived from the original on June 25, 2006. 
  15. ^ "All Five 'Backstreet Boys' Reunite in L.A.". November 27, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Backstreet Boys -- All Five Of Them -- Reunite Onstage In L.A.". MTV. November 24, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Backstreet Boys Reunite". Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Kevin Richardson joins Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block in Los Angeles". Pop2it - Zap2it. July 2, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Kevin Richardson On Appearing With The Backstreet Boys Again [AUDIO]". October 25, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  20. ^ Hilton, Perez (April 29, 2012). "BACKSTREET'S BACK! Kevin Richardson Announces Return To Backstreet Boys PERMANENTLY!". Perez Retrieved April 29, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Kevin Richardson will rejoin The Backstreet Boys during special Central Park concert on 'GMA'". Washington Post. July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  22. ^ Editor, Cavan Sieczkowski Senior; Strategy, Content; Post, The Huffington (August 31, 2012). "Backstreet Boys Reunite, Announce Plans For A Concert Cruise". The Huffington Post. 
  23. ^ "[FULL] Backstreet Boys on Good Morning America". September 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ "*LISTEN* AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson Call Ryan". Ryan Seacrest Productions. July 24, 2012. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Watch Greatest Hits TV Show". ABC. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 
  26. ^ "The Movies". The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ Frederick, Brittany (December 8, 2011). "News Celebs TV Movies Music Photos Contests Video Q&A: Rob Gonzalez & Kevin Richardson Come 'Home' For Cancer Benefit". StarPulse. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Backstreet Boy Richardson will juggle return to group with acting career". Kentucky. 
  29. ^ "D'ORA Versace". Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Kevin Richardson - Modeling for Versace - 10/1998 - (@_BoysOnTheBlock)". July 11, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Backstreet to Broadway: Richardson Is Billy Flynn Beginning Jan. 20". January 20, 2003. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Kevin Richardson joins Chicago anniversary show". Monsters and Critics. October 6, 2006. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Haylie Duff's "Love Takes Wing"". February 3, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Kevin Richardson to Reunite with the Backtreet Boys". Yahoo! Music. 
  35. ^ "The Casserole Club". Raindance Film Festival. 
  36. ^ "CASSEROLE CLUB dishes out new Independent Vision Awards record and walks off with 5 wins – including Outstanding Production & Direction!" (Press release). Domani Vision Film Society. June 27, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  37. ^ "CASSEROLE CLUB dishes out new Independent Vision Awards record and walks off with 5 wins – including Outstanding Production & Direction!". Film Festival Today. June 28, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Unwound". November 22, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  39. ^ ""Bearly There" – working title – Indiegogo". Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): Evan Goldberg on how much of 'This Is The End' was improvised, his favorite moments". EW. December 3, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2014. 
  41. ^ Juneau, Jen (August 8, 2016). "Backstreet Boys' Kevin Richardson Says Infertility Issues Made Him Think Another Baby Wasn't 'in the Cards'". People. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Kevin Richardson on Colon Cancer". June 26, 2006. 
  43. ^ "Backstreet Weddings". People. October 26, 1998. Retrieved June 8, 2016. 
  44. ^ "Kevin Richardson and wife welcome son Mason". People. July 4, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  45. ^ "Backstreet Boys' Kevin Richardson Is Now a Father of Two!". E! Online. July 11, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]