Joey Fatone Was ‘Blindsided’ When Justin Timberlake Left NSYNC: We Thought He’d ‘Just Come Back After’ Solo Album and Tour

Joey Fatone recently told Yahoo Entertainment that he was “blindsided” when Justin Timberlake left NSYNC to set out on a solo career. Fatone said the assumed expectation was that Timberlake would eventually come back to the hugely popular boy band, but that never transpired. Timberlake went on to launch a solo career with his 2002 debut album “Justified” (2002) and never rejoined NYSNC to make new music until the 2023 release of “Better Place,” from the “Trolls Band Together” soundtrack. Fatone and Timberlake were members of NYSNC alongside Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez and Lance Bass.

“I was not blindsided by [NSYNC’s breakup],” Fatone said. “I was more blindsided as far as [Justin] coming out with music and not knowing that he was going to go and do an actual album/tour thing.”

NYSNC went on hiatus in April 2002 so that Timberlake’s solo career could launch in the fall. “Justified” was released in November 2002 and turned Timberlake into a solo phenom thanks to the success of songs like “Cry Me a River,” which became a single shortly after the album’s release. Timberlake’s solo career meant NYSNC’s final album release was 2001’s “Celebrity,” featuring hit singles like “Pop.” Fatone explained that he was under the impression Timberlake would go do his own thing for a short while and then return to NSYNC.

“It was more of, ‘Hey, I’m going to do some music, and then we’ll get back together.’ That’s what that was,” Fatone said of his thought process at the time. “And it wasn’t him — it was the record company. If it was him, then I’d understand it. When you’re younger, you think it’s that person. But then you look at the whole bigger scheme of things, and you go, ‘Oh, that’s why I wasn’t there for that.’ That’s the business. ‘OK, I get it.’”

“We thought he was just going to go out and just come back after the [‘Justified’] tour,” he continued. “I was like, ‘OK.’ But then when he went on tour and then things started going, I was like, ‘All right, I’ll go do Broadway.’ That’s when I did Broadway. I started doing ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ I started hosting TV shows and doing my own thing, and that was what led me.”

Fatone concluded, “That’s the beautiful part about it: My career and my life led me somewhere else, and I’m good and I’m happy with it.”

Timberlake decided to stay solo, releasing his acclaimed second album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” in 2006. The record debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and went 3x platinum. It included three number one singles: “SexyBack” (featuring Timbaland), “My Love” (featuring T.I.) and “What Goes Around…Comes Around.”

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