'N Sync's Justin Timberlake Goes it Alone

ByABC News
November 1, 2002, 5:24 PM

Nov. 4 -- Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears were the golden couple of teen pop, he the lead singer of the world's best-selling boy band, 'N Sync, and she a belly-baring role model for millions of teenage girls.

But then, in March, Spears, 20, told the British press that she was not "in an intense relationship with anyone." Timberlake, 21, later confirmed the break-up, telling People magazine he had a "broken heart."

Now he is striking out on his own musically too, releasing a solo album, Justified, which hits stores Nov. 5.

As lead vocalist of 'N Sync, Timberlake was one of the most visible of the five group members, but it remains to be seen whether he can make the transition from a boy band pop icon to a solo rock star.

Timberlake does not see his solo effort as a risk. "If it succeeds, then that's great. If it doesn't, then it just doesn't," he told 20/20's Barbara Walters in his first-ever sit-down interview for network television.

A Quiet, Clean Little Boy

Timberlake was raised in Shelby Forest, Tenn., a small town just outside Memphis, by his mother and step-father, Lynn and Paul Harless.

Timberlake says he was a "terror" growing up, but his mother remembers him differently. "He really never was a terror," she said. "The scary thing about Justin is he was such a quiet child that you'd have to go see what he was doing."

She also says he was a perfectionist. "He probably is one of the cleanest people I know. He couldn't stand anything on his shoes or his hands," she said as Justin protested laughingly, "That's enough."

Timberlake remains close to his mother. She is one of his managers, and he says he tells her everything and she is his best friend. "My mother has been there so much for me, and has helped me level things out when things got crazy," he said.

Timberlake even has a tattoo on his back showing an angel holding a banner with his mother's initials. He has six other tattoos, mostly commemorating various of 'N Sync's four albums.