Tearing Up Our Heart: 5 Boy Band Breakups We'll Never Forget

This week, the tweeniverse cried out as one when Zayn Malik announced his departure from One Direction after five years. What will be his fate? Will 1D survive his departure?

We looked back at some other famous boy-band departures for clues about what could happen next.

5. Ricky Martin left Menudo (1989)

Most of the world knows Ricky for hits like "La Vida Loca" and "She Bangs," but the (now) openly gay performer's start came with 80s Latin boy band Menudo. Originally passed on for being too short, Ricky joined the band in 1984 at age of 14 and quickly gained heartthrob status.

After five years, Martin left the band—in his autobiography, he said being in Menudo "cost" him his childhood. "I became a rock'n'roll star/sex symbol at a very young age," he told The Guardian in 2011. "I was thinking: what do I have to do to get the attention of the girls? It was my job to move my hips, because then they scream, and that meant I was successful."

The 1990s were a whirlwind for the Puerto Rican singer, including starring in Les Miserables on Broadway, appearing on General Hospital, releasing three successful Spanish-language albums, singing "Cup of Life" at the 44th annual Grammy Awards, and dropping his first-ever English-language album, Ricky Martin, which soared to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts.

The rest, as they say, is historia.

4. Robbie Williams left Take That (1995)

The gayest straight man in England was only 16 when he auditioned for Take That, a UK boy band that achieved superstar status in the 1990s nearly everywhere but the U.S. Williams was considered the joker of the group, and contributed lead vocals on hits like "Could It Be Magic", "I Found Heaven," and "Everything Changes."

Feeling constricted by the group, Williams fell into drug and alcohol abuse, and eventually agreed to leave Take That in 1995.

His solo career blew up in the UK—Williams charted with songs like "Angels," "Millennium," "Rock DJ," and "Kids," a duet with Kylie Minogue from 2000—but like Take That, he never quite caught on in the States.

Williams reunited with Take That in 2010 for the album Progress, which became the second-fastest-selling album in British history.

He is currently readying the Let Me Entertain You tour, which will span the globe in 2015.=

3. Kevin Richardson left the Backstreet Boys (2006)

The Backstreet Boys marked the resurgence of the boy-band phenomenon in America, after the 1980s heyday of New Kids on the Block and Boyz 2 Men. Kevin Richardson joined Backstreet in 1993, eventually getting his first cousin, Brian Littrell, to come along for the ride, too.

After recording five smash albums over the course of 13 years—making BSB the biggest selling boy band of all time—Richardson departed, citing a desire to move on "with the next chapter." (He has since reunited with the band several times on tour.)

Post-BSB, Richardson appeared on Broadway in 2003 in the revival of Chicago. He also composed the music to a movie called The Spirit Bear, which was slated come out in 2010, but never did.

2. Jordan Knight left New Kids On The Block (1995)

Along with his brother Jonathan, Jordan Knight joined Maurice Starr's burgeoning boy band in 1984. NKOTB achieved global domination by the late 80s, selling 70 million records worldwide and netting some $400 million in merchandise sales alone.

Suffering panic attacks, Knight left NKOTB in 1995, shortly before the group split up.

Knight went on to do a three solo albums, his most successful being the first, 1999's Jordan Knight. Co-produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and a then-unknown Robin Thicke, it sold more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone, and gave us the Top Ten hit "Give It to You." 

1. Justin Timberlake left N'SYNC (2002)

Lou Pearlman tapped former Mickey Mouse Club member Justin Timberlake for his prefab boy band, 'N Sync, back in 1995. After launching in Europe, the group went on to achieve superstardom, selling 50 million albums and garnering seven Grammy nominations.

The group went on hiatus in 2002 that eventually became a permanent split. In his 2007 autobiography, Out of Sync, Lance Bass cited Timberlake's desire for a solo career as the main cause.

JT's solo career has been meteoric, with four solo albums, millions of records sold around the world, multiple Grammy awards, a Super Bowl halftime show and appearances on Saturday Night Live and in films like Alpha Dog, The Social Network and Inside Llewellyn Davis. That's not including his restaurants, clothing line, or record label.

Zayd would be lucky, to say the least, if Justin turns out to be the template for his life post-1D.

Timberlake even was nice enough to let his former bandmates join him for a one-off performance at the 2013 MTV Music Video Awards. Awwww.

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