Boy band wiped out by tragedy 24 years since huge summer hit
19th September 2023

The names Brad, Rich and Devin might not mean much. You may even struggle to remember that the threesome made up the 1990s US pop/hip hop boy band Lyte Funkie Ones, or LFO for short.

But while they may never have experienced a level of fame enjoyed by their boy band contemporaries like 'NSYNC (who recently reunited at MTV's VMAs) and Backstreet Boys, there was a time when their hit song Summer Girls were never far from excited teens' lips, with its memorable lyrics: "I like girls that wear Abercombie & Fitch, I'd take her if I had one wish, but she's been gone since that summer…"

As the band – comprising Brad Fischetti, Rich Cronin and Devin Lima, – recorded their sun-drenched video for Summer Girls on the pier and beach of New York's Coney Island amusement park in 1999, they looked the full package, with great looks and buff bodies.

Little did they know the unimaginable tragedy to come, that would wipe out LFO for good. Formed in 1995, when Rich and Brad met original member Brian 'Brizz' Gillis in New Bedford, Massachusetts, LFO initially struggled to find fame.

It wasn't until Brizz left the group in 1999, and Devin joined, that they found chart success with Summer Girls, reaching No 1 on the US Billboard singles chart and No 16 on the UK's Official Singles Chart. The song was packed full of 80s and 90s references, including Cherry Coke, actors Macaulay Culkin, Kevin Bacon and Michael J Fox, New Kids On The Block and, of course, Abercrombie & Fitch.

It seemed as though LFO's star was rising – in the year 2000 they won the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for Favourite Group of the Year and performed more than 230 concerts, including supporting a young Britney Spears on tour. In 2001 they even released their own range of dolls.

But lacklustre sales for their second album, whose release coincided with the beginning of the end for the boy band trend, meant they split in 2002. Three years later, a then-30 year old Rich sought treatment for constant headaches and was diagnosed with leukaemia, receiving treatment and going into remission.

"I am truly thankful for the success I had," he told Entertainment Weekly at the time, adding: "And if it happens again, that'd be really nice. I'm just that same guy writing pop songs to make people happy. And I still only like girls in Abercrombie & Fitch."

By 2009, LFO had reformed and went on tour, but sadly Rich had become sick again, with the others supporting him much like UK boy band The Wanted later helped cancer-stricken group member Tom Parker on their tour in 2022. "He was so happy," LFO's Brad said of band mate Rich in 2010. "We really became soulmates. Devin and I both realised how much we loved him, despite the differences we had in the past."

Despite bravely battling his leukaemia, Rich passed away in Boston, Massachusetts in September 2010, aged just 36. Seven years later, in July 2017, Brad and Devin released their first new song as LFO in 15 years, promising to carry on Rich's legacy.

Yet tragedy struck again just three months later, when Devin was diagnosed with rare adrenal cancer, and had surgery on his abdomen to remove a football-sized tumour, as well as one of his kidneys. "I don't feel like it's some kind of cancer, I don't feel like that. [It's] just got to come out," Devin had said prior to the operation.

Surgery apparently went well, yet Devin succumbed to his cancer just over year later, at the age of 41, leaving behind his girlfriend and six children. In 2019, Brad – the only member of the LFO that found fame together remaining – toured with boy band O-Town on a series of dates, in memory of Rich and Devin.

Unbelievably, original member Brizz also passed away from undisclosed causes in March 2023, aged 48.

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