Singers and actors
Born Nicholas Scott Lachey, November 9, 1973, in Harlan, KY; son of John Lachey and Cate Fopma–Leimbach; married Jessica Simpson (a singer and actress), October 26, 2002. Education: Attended the University of Southern California; attended Miami (Ohio) University. Born Jessica Ann Simpson, July 10, 1980, in Dallas, TX; daughter of Joe (a minister, psychologist, and talent manager) and Tina (a stylist) Simpson; married Nick Lachey (a singer and actor), October 26, 2002.
(Lachey) Record label —Universal Records, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. Website — www.nicklachey.com . (Simpson) Fan club —P.O. Box 452588, Garland, TX 75045–2588. Office —c/o Top 40 Entertainment, 156 W. 56th St., 5th Fl., New York, NY 10019. Website — www.jessicasimpson.com .
Lachey joined pop group 98 Degrees, 1995; signed to Motown Records, 1996; released 98 Degrees, 1997; released 98 Degrees and Rising, 1998; released Revelation, 2000; left 98 Degrees, 2001; solo artist, 2003—; released SoulO, 2003. Television appearances include: American Dreams, NBC, 2004; I'm With Her, 2004; Hot Momma (pilot), ABC, 2004. Simpson began working as a singer, c. 1997; released Sweet Kisses, 1999; released Irresistible, 2001; released In This Skin, 2003. Film appearances include: Master of Disguise, 2002. Television appearances include: That '70s Show, Fox, 2002–03; The Twilight Zone, UPN, 2003; VH1 Divas, 2004; ABC television pilot, 2004. Television appearances together: Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,
(Lachey) Love song of the year, Teen Choice Awards, for "Where You Are," 2000; most requested song of the year, Radio Music Awards, for "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)," 2000. (Simpson) Breakout artist and love song of the year, Teen Choice Awards, for "Where You Are," 2000.
Though Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson had at least moderately successful singing careers before their marriage—he with boy band 98 Degrees then as a solo artist, and she as a pop solo artist—it was their reality show, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, that made them celebrities. The show was a big hit, due in part to Simpson's jaw–dropping gaffes and Lachey's patience with his wife's lack of common sense. Newlyweds proved so popular that MTV aired a second season in 2004, and ABC gave them a variety special, The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour to try to make them into the next Sonny and Cher.
Simpson was born on July 10, 1980, in Dallas, Texas, the daughter of a Baptist minister, Joe Simpson, and his wife, Tina. She was raised in Texas with her younger sister, Ashlee, who is also a singer, in a very Christian household. Simpson began her singing career early in life, singing gospel at her father's church from at least the age of five, if not earlier. Simpson also wanted to try acting.
When Simpson was 12 years old, she auditioned for The New Mickey Mouse Club but she did not make it. However, her future pop singing rivals, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, did secure roles on the show. Despite this setback, Simpson continued singing, including appearances at church camps.
It was at such a camp that an executive from a Christian gospel label, CCM, discovered Simpson and signed her to a recording contract. From the ages of 13 to 16, Simpson worked on her debut record for the label. However, the label folded before her record could be released. Simpson's grandmother paid for some copies to be pressed, but there was little attention paid to the recording.
While still attending high school at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas, Simpson built her career on the Christian youth conference circuit where she was a very popular singer. Before she graduated, Simpson was able to finally secure some mainstream notice. In 1997, she was signed to a record deal by Sony after singing "Amazing Grace" a cappella for the company's chief executive officer. Her voice proved to be one of her strongest points as a singer, often acclaimed as being natural and full of soul. She was also attracted to the label because it allowed her to be honest about herself in public, including talking about her faith and her decision to remain a virgin until she married.
Simpson graduated from Pearce with her GED in 1998, and continued working on her first release for Sony. Her father became her manager while her mother was her stylist. In 1999, she released her debut album, Sweet Kisses which sold more than two million copies. One single, "I Wanna Love You Forever," was a top ten hit. Simpson was praised by Billboard critic Larry Flick who called her a "diva–in–training, capable of transcending age demographics" and her album "a measured blend of kid–friendly up–tempo pop ditties and mature, gospel–laced ballads."
Before the release of Sweet Kisses, Simpson had met her future husband at the 1998 Hollywood Christmas Parade. After her album's release, she toured in support of it as an opening act for Lachey's band, 98 Degrees, as well as Latin–pop sensation Ricky Martin. Simpson and Lachey began dating in 1999, and recorded a single together, "Where You Are," which appeared in the film Here on Earth. Simpson went on in 2001 to release the album Irresistible, which went gold.
Lachey was born on November 9, 1973, in Harlan, Kentucky, the son of John Lachey, a pharmacist, and Cate Fopma–Leimbach, a substance abuse program coordinator. From his childhood growing up in Cincinnati, Lachey had a love of performing. To that end, he attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts in that city.
After graduating from high school, Lachey entered the University of Southern California, then transferred to Miami University in Ohio. There, he studied exercise science and athletic training, and was the trainer for the women's volleyball team. Lachey also sang with a local band, the Avenues, in Cincinnati, sometimes letting the band interfere with his studies.
The summer before his senior year of college, Lachey was invited by an old friend, Jeff Timmons, to move to Los Angeles and joining a vocal group. Lachey dropped out of Miami University, took his younger brother, Drew, and another friend from Ohio, Justin Jeffre, with him. The four formed 98 Degrees, a vocal group, in 1995.
Success did not come easily for Lachey and 98 Degrees. The four men worked other jobs as they tried to get noticed and become successful. They finally got a break after trying to crash the backstage area at a Boys II Men around 1996. This incident led to an appearance on a local radio station. 98 Degrees soon found a manager, Paris d'Jon, and a record deal with Motown.
In 1997, 98 Degrees released their first self–titled first record. With the hit single "Invisible Man," 98 Degrees went gold. Their follow–up release was even more popular. 98 Degrees and Rising went multi–platinum and was popular world wide. In 2000, 98 Degrees released Revelation which went platinum. This was the same year the group was sued by their former managers for $25 million. The group had fired this management team after they had been on the road constantly for several years and saw little in return for the effort.
One point of dissension between 98 Degrees and their first managers was the pressure to lie about their ages. They refused to be a "teeny bopper" band. 98 Degrees wanted to be different than most boy vocal bands who were popular at the time. They focused on an urban soul/R&B sound more than other boy bands, which were often pop–oriented. They wanted to be more like Boys II Men than N'Sync. 98 Degrees also performed well live and wrote most of their own material. The foursome also owned their name and merchandise rights. They were not a studio creation, but four solid singers.
Of the way 98 Degrees performed in concert, Lachey told Sarah Rodman of Boston Herald, "We're not going to get up there and overwhelm you with dance moves; that's not what we're about. When we put the group together, we were singers, and we want to remain singers and all this other stuff comes second."
By the early 2000s, 98 Degrees was less popular, especially while touring. They did not attract as large of a crowd when they toured in 2001, and went on indefinite hiatus in 2002. Lachey found more success with his wife. He and Simpson continued to date until April of 2001, when their relationship temporarily ended. They got back together after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the east coast of the United States, and were engaged in February of 2002.
Simpson and Lachey married on October 26, 2002, in Austin, Texas. Their early days of wedded bliss were the subject of a reality series on MTV, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. The show was taped during the first year of their marriage, following them in their personal and professional lives, and aired in 2003. When it was originally aired, Newlyweds was not expected to be a hit, but it found a large audience, attracting about 2.4–2.7 million viewers per week. Its biggest audience was found among viewers between 12 and 34 years old.
One aspect that attracted viewers was Simpson's personality, alternately described as dumb, ditzy, spoiled, and whiny. Some of her mistakes and misunderstandings were highly amusing. In one episode, she wondered aloud whether or not Chicken of the Sea tuna contained chicken, and in another, why buffalo wings were not made of buffalo. In contrast, Lachey was both patient with her and exasperated by her, especially her sloppiness, as he had "neat freak" tendencies.
Many critics believed that Newlyweds made Simpson, especially, more of a star than her singing ever did. Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun–Times declared, "Out of nowhere, Simpson has become the surprise breakout TV star of the season. She's more fascinating than Ozzy Osbourne, more embarrassing than Paris Hilton, and funnier than all five Queer Eye guys put together." Newlyweds was renewed for a second season which aired in 2004.
Even before Newlyweds had hit the airwaves, Simpson was already working on an acting career. The WB television network was considering developing a weekly series for her. She also had several television shows of note. In 2003, she had a recurring role as Annette, Kelso's girlfriend, on Fox's That '70s Show, and a guest role as Miranda Evans on an episode of The Twilight Zone on UPN. In the episode entitled "The Collection," Simpson's Evans was a babysitter of a girl who possesses a doll collection of which Evans soon may be a member.
Simpson also tried to jumpstart her singing career, which played a minor role in Newlyweds. In 2003, she released her third album, In This Skin, which was initially a flop. The record featured slick, glossy production values, and more adult themes than her previous releases. Though In This Skin debuted in the top ten on Billboard 's album charts, it soon dropped significantly. Sales rebounded for a time when there was a bonus DVD added with extra tracks in 2004. She was also selected to be a part of VH1's annual "Divas" show in 2004. Simpson had a pilot in the works with ABC for the fall of 2004, but it was not picked up. In May of 2004, it was announced that Simpson would play the role of Daisy Duke in the film based on the television show The Dukes of Hazzard. Plus, she was scheduled to appear in the 2005 film, Walk On. Along with her sister, Ashlee, Simpson became a spokesperson for Hershey's Ice Breakers Liquid Ice mints. She also promoted an edible cosmetics and fragrance line, Dessert, which launched in Sephora stores in April of 2004. "It's like vanilla cupcakes—yummy, really yummy," Simpson told Allure 's Alexandra Jacobs. Simpson kicked off a North American tour on June 4, 2004.
Like Simpson, Lachey also worked on his acting and singing careers. In 2004, he appeared in the NBC drama American Dreams as Tom Jones. Lachey was cast opposite Gina Gershon on the fall 2004 ABC situation comedy Hot Mamma, but the show was not picked up. In 2003, Lachey released his first solo album, SoulO, of which he wrote or co–wrote eight tracks. Though the track "This I Swear" was used as the theme song of Newlyweds, Lachey's album sold even worse than Simpson's.
The success of Newlyweds also led to joint work for the couple, primary on television. They co–hosted Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve in 2003. In 2004, ABC selected them to host a variety special, The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour, which drew on their ability to sing, do comedy, and act together. After the success of the first, they were signed to do a second special in December of that year, with more possible in the future. The couple was also considering recording an album of duets together. In 2004, they both were named to People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list. In July of that year, Simpson announced that the second season of Newlyweds would be their last. "We're not newlyweds anymore," she explained on E! Online.
Lachey said he was glad that many of his and Simpson's career triumphs had come together. He told Donna Freydkin of USA Today, "We were the poor man's stars. It's cool that our biggest success in this industry has come as a married couple. It's gratifying to know that people were wrong and being married is not a bad thing." Simpson explained to Allure 's Jacobs, "We did Newlyweds to show we're not a perfect couple. We let our guards down, fight, cuss each other out, whatever it may be, and people ended up embracing it more than the celebrity life. Our success came from being ourselves. That's the best kind of success to have."
98 Degrees, Motown, 1997.
98 Degrees and Rising, Motown, 1998.
Heat It Up, Motown, 1999.
This Christmas, Universal, 1999.
Revelation, Universal, 2000.
The Collection, Universal, 2002.
SoulO, Universal, 2003.
Sweet Kisses, Columbia Records, 1999.
Irresistible, Columbia Records, 2001.
This Is The Remix, Columbia Records, 2002.
In This Skin, Sony, 2003.
"Where You Are," Here on Earth (soundtrack), 2000.
Celebrity Biographies, Baseline II, 2004.
Allure, April 2004, pp. 190–95.
Billboard, November 6, 1999, p. 13; February 26, 2000, p. 89; March 20, 2004, p. 77.
Boston Globe, November 11, 2003, p. F4.
Boston Herald, June 25, 1999, p. S21; August 19, 2003, p. 43.
Brandweek, March 1, 2004, p. 22.
Chicago Sun–Times, October 14, 2003, p. 11.
Columbus Dispatch, December 17, 2003, p. 1B.
Daily News (New York), August 3, 2003, p. 14; September 30, 2003, p. 44; October 7, 2003, p. 86; January 16, 2004, p. 120; April 13, 2004, p. 79.
Entertainment Weekly, December 26, 2003/January 2, 2004, pp. 70–71; January 16, 2004, pp. 22–28.
Houston Chronicle, March 1, 2001, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2004, p. E8.
Ottawa Citizen, December 13, 2003, p. J12.
People, November 15, 1999, p. 182; March 20, 2000, p. 113; November 11, 2002, p. 60; September 1, 2003, p. 127; December 1, 2003, p. 133.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 1999, p. 39; October 19, 2003, p. D6.
Seattle Times, May 11, 2001, p. G12; May 14, 2001, p. E3.
Straits Times, August 25, 2000, p. 13.
Toronto Sun, January 28, 2000, p. 39; September 12, 2000, p. 54; August 24, 2003, p. S20.
USA Today, September 25, 2000, p. 6D; January 21, 2004, p. 2D.
Washington Post, September 10, 2003, p. C5; April 16, 2004, p. C7.
"First Look," E! Online, http://www.eonline.com/News/firstlook.html?eol.tkr (July 15, 2004).
"Jessica Puts Up Her Dukes," E! Online, http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,14155,00.html?tnews (May 21, 2004).
"Where's Jessica Simpson?," CNN.com , http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/05/25/showbuzz/index.html#2 (May 25, 2004).
— A. Petruso