Born on October 3, 1971, in Lexington, Kentucky, Kevin Richardson is the oldest of the Backstreet Boys, one of the most popular boy bands ever. The singer, who once modeled for Versace, returned to making music full-time with his group after a six-year hiatus in 2012. Richardson, now a married dad, also dabbles as a solo artist, producer and actor, appearing in films and on Broadway.
On October 3, 1971, Jerald Wayne Richardson and his wife, Ann, welcomed the youngest of their three sons, Kevin Scott Richardson. Kevin grew up mostly on a farm and was drawn to sports, acting as captain of his high school football team. He also adored performing, participating in the school theater, chorus, drama club and church choir. Of his two loves, acting and music, the latter ultimately won out. Upon graduating, Richardson went to work at Disney World, taking on a variety of costumed characters, from a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle to Aladdin. He did dinner theater at night.
The Backstreet Boys
In 1993, the aspiring crooner left small-time showbiz when he was selected to sing in a new pop group, the Backstreet Boys, along with Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Brian Littrell. (Richardson recruited Littrell, who is his first cousin, into the quintet.) After early success in Europe, in 1997 the Backstreet Boys released their debut album, which sold 13 million copies with tunes like "Quit Playin' Games (With My Heart)" and "As Long as You Love Me." In 2006, after many more hits and concerts, Richardson left the Backstreet Boys to pursue other endeavors. Apart from making occasional guest appearances, he took a hiatus from the band until permanently returning in 2012.
Richardson explored many avenues outside of the Backstreet Boys, like starring in the Broadway musical Chicago and modeling for Versace in Italy. Plus, he appeared in several indie films, including The Casserole Club, which earned Richardson an Independent Vision Award for Best Actor in 2012. The all-around performer also started his own foundation, Just Within Reach, in honor of his father, who lost his life to cancer (his dad's initials were J.W.R.). The organization provides environmental education and encourages conservation. It's a cause Richardson shares with bandmate Nick Carter.
Richardson found happiness not only professionally but also personally. Shortly before joining the Backstreet Boys, he met wife Kristin Willits in 1993 at Disney World while she was playing Belle from Beauty and the Beast and he was still donning character costumes. The couple married on June 17, 2000. Seven years later they had a son, Mason. At the same time Richardson will be touring and making new music in recognition of the Backstreet Boys' 20th anniversary, the 41-year-old is gearing up to celebrate something even bigger: the birth of his second child. He announced the news on Twitter and Facebook on April 15, 2013.
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