Under the label of Simon Cowell and under the direction of X Factor judge Louis Walsh, it’s no wonder Irish-born band Westlife has been so popular over the years.
Even when The X Factor launched, Louis fought hard to find himself the next “big boy group” to follow in Boyzone’s highly successful footsteps.
Releasing albums over three decades so far, the group remains a pop sensation as they’ve garnered millions of pounds and album sales – but it wasn’t all roses and sun behind closed doors.
As the iconic boyband turns 23 since forming, what has his career been like over those 23 years?
Most fans wouldn’t imagine calling the group anything other than Westlife, but did you know they were originally called Westside? Another group has already hosted the name so they had to change it and ended up at Westlife.
Butâ¦ even before that, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, and Shane Filan starred in their school’s musical Grease together and decided to form a band, according to Westlifeweb. In fact, the band even released a single – they were called IOYou and released a single Together Girl Forever in 1997.
Louis Walsh and Ronan Keating then stepped in and changed some of the original band members before going on auditions in Dublin which eventually saw Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden join and “Westside” was born.
In 1999, Westside became Westlife and they released their first single under their new name in April 1999.
Westlife fans were devastated when barely six years in the group, Brian McFadden made the decision to leave.
The group managed to make five albums as a group of five before becoming a group of four, with Brian’s exit being confirmed just three weeks before the group embarked on their fourth world tour.
In an effort to spend time with his family, who at the time were his wife Kerry Katona and daughters Molly and Lilly-Sue, Brian left ahead of the tour, making his last performance at a Newcastle club in February 2004.
At the time, Brian said, “It’s very difficult to juggle two lives when you have a family.”
Teammate Egan added, “We shared laughs, tears, success, weddings and babies, but most of all, we shared our dreams.”
Although the group continued as a quartet – releasing eight more albums throughout their careers – they broke up in 2012.
In a statement, the group said Westlife had become family to them, saying there was no bad blood between the group.
A source also told The Sun at the time: âThere is no bad blood in the group, they are still good friends. But all good things come to an end and they are all keen to make their own. thing.
âIt’s not something they did lightly as they are still at the top of their game. They could continue making albums into old age as their careers unfolded, but no ‘between them does not want to do it. “
Their time apart
At the time of the split, lead singer Shane saw his real estate empire go bankrupt, leading to debts of Â£ 18million – but despite huge losses, Shane held his head high as he reduced his debts and worked as a solo artist.
Three albums were released during his solo career, including You and Me in 2013, Right Here in 2015 and Love Always in 2017.
Mark also tried his hand at a solo career, releasing music under the name Markus Feehily, and released his single, Love Is a Drug, in February 2015.
Nicky finished Strictly in the months following the split from Westlife and went on to enjoy successful television and radio careers, including hosting the Irish version of Dancing With the Stars.
Kian proudly won the 2013 series of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here and released his solo album the following year.
As the four reunited after their individual successes, in 2018 Brian told The Irish Sun that he was offered a multi-million pound deal to return to the group, but said: “These are the other Westlife boys who said no they didn’t. I don’t want back. ”
When Westlife finally reunited in 2018, fans were overjoyed to see their favorite boyband return to the stage.
Ahead of their first concert at Wembley, Mark Feehily said: “The best thing we have done for our career is to go our separate ways.
âWe wouldn’t be here today announcing that we are playing at Wembley Stadium if we didn’t go our separate ways.
“Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It’s magic. Westlife is like a vacation, and you shouldn’t be on vacation all the time.”
Their most recent album, Spectrum, was released in 2019, but their next album will be available for purchase in November 2021 – that will make it the fourth consecutive decade in which they have released a new album.
Although many shows were canceled last year due to Covid-19, Westlife plans to return to the stage on tour as soon as they can.