By Alex Green, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Backstreet Boys star AJ McLean has said he is “elated” for Britney Spears but that the end of her conservatorship should have come sooner.
The 44-year-old said the controversial arrangement, which controlled many aspects of Spears’ life including her finances, “shackled” her from accessing the things she had worked hard for.
Spears was freed from the arrangement after nearly 14 years in November.
McLean, who had previously voiced support for the pop superstar, told the PA news agency: “I am elated for her. This has been a long time coming and she deserves to be free. And she deserves to live her own life.
“She’s a human being. She’s a mother. She deserves to be living the life that she chooses to lead. Nobody should be shackled from living the life that they worked their ass off to have.
“She earned every single thing that she owns. She did that. No-one else did.”
McLean, who formed the Backstreet Boys with Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, recalled receiving the news in November.
The decision to end her conservatorship closed one of the most controversial chapters in modern pop music history and handed Spears the keys to her estimated 60 million US dollar (£45 million) estate.
He said: “When I got the news, I was literally in the studio with a buddy of mine and my phone was blowing up and I’m like, ‘What is going on?’ And when I saw it I was like, ‘Hell yes. Thank God. Good for her’.
“It sucks that it took this long and it shouldn’t have. But she has such a great support team. Her fans love her.
“She has got people like us that are in the industry that have been family and friends for years. And we all supported her. And I’m really, really happy for her.”
Backstreet Boys have been rehearsing in Las Vegas ahead of their postponed DNA World Tour, which includes a performance at London’s O2 Arena on November 6.
McLean said the band had been “reconnecting” after lockdown disrupted their original tour plans two years ago.
He said: “When we got back together back in LA about two weeks ago to do some preliminary rehearsals to dust the cobwebs off and get back into the swing of things, it was awesome.
“It felt like I hadn’t seen the guys in 10 years. We were all hugging and laughing.
“Now that we’re out here in Las Vegas, we have this little crew of us. It’s myself, Howie and Brian, we have been going for dinners every night, trying new foods.
“We kind of call ourselves the steak house crew because we’ve been doing a lot of steak houses. We did Italian a couple of nights ago.
“It’s been really fun. It’s been a great bonding thing, reconnecting and everything, so it’s been great. The whole morale is really, really up.”
The group, formed in Orlando, Florida, in 1993, was one of the biggest acts of the decade, selling millions of records worldwide thanks to hits such as I Want It That Way, Everybody and As Long As You Love Me.
The DNA World Tour begins this week with a run of shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before the band visit Europe in October and November, with dates in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy and more.
In response to the war in Ukraine, a portion of ticket sales will go to the UNHCR.