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Louis Walsh

Walsh at a zavvi shop in London, England on 26 November 2007
Born Michael Louis Vincent
5 August 1952 (1952-08-05) (age 57)
Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Republic of Ireland
Occupation Music manager

Louis Walsh (born Michael Louis Vincent[1] on 5 August 1952, in Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Ireland) is an Irish music manager and judge on the British television talent show The X Factor.

As of July 2009, his acts have totalled 29 UK Number 1 singles.


Band manager

While working for a record label in Ipswich, Walsh spotted the talents of singer/songwriter Johnny Logan. Walsh persuaded Logan to enter the 1980 Irish National Song Contest, which he won. This meant automatic inclusion in the 25th Eurovision Song Contest, which Logan won in front of 500 million TV viewers.

Louis Walsh then decided to create an Irish version of Take That, which the papers picked up on when Walsh advertised the open auditions. The band created was Boyzone whom Walsh managed to international success achieving 16 top three singles, six of which were Number 1s, as well as four Number 1 albums selling over 12 million copies worldwide.

When Ronan Keating announced he wanted to take a break from Boyzone, Walsh continued to manage his career. Keating achieved a Number 1 hit with Life is a Rollercoaster in 1999 while his album sold 4.4 million copies. Keating and Walsh later agreed to part company and then had a bitter falling out. Walsh told the press: "He (Keating) wasn't the most talented one - he's not a great singer and he's got no personality." Keating later told Closer magazine: "That man absolutely tried to ruin me and if he thinks we can ever hug and make up he can forget it. I haven't heard from him in three years and I wouldn't have a problem if I never saw him again. He's not a nice character."[2]

Walsh then went back to the boy band formula to create Westlife. Walsh had his choice of record companies but eventually signed them to RCA after being impressed by executive Simon Cowell. Their first seven singles from the debut "Swear it Again" reached Number 1 in the UK charts, which still stands as the record for most consecutive number 1 singles from debut. Walsh continues to manage the band with Westlife having accumulated 14 UK number 1s and 6 number 1 selling albums.

Walsh has also managed performers and groups who enjoyed success such as Darren Holden and Bellefire, as well as masterminding Lulu's duet album, being her most successful and reaching Number 4 in the UK charts. Walsh's career as a pop group manager has not been all success, with failed acts such as The Carter Twins. His notoriety has even led to his own song Louis Walsh by Co. Donegal band The Revs.

In a May 2009 interview on RTÉ's Late Late Show, Bono revealed that in 1980, U2 were chatting in a bar in Dublin about firing their manager Paul McGuinness due to his inability to find a van for the band. A stranger sitting nearby then came over to their table and said "Guys, I couldn't help but overhear your problems. I actually know the person you're talking about and this is a really big mistake, he's a great guy, he's the right manager for U2, you should really work it out!" Bono concluded this story saying: "Well, that guy was Louis Walsh".[3][4]

Television career

Walsh's first television work was in 2001, in the Irish version of Popstars. The following year Walsh appeared as a judge on the UK ITV show Popstars: The Rivals with Pete Waterman and Geri Halliwell. Walsh went head-to-head with Waterman on the show with his all girl band Girls Aloud battling it out with Waterman's boy band One True Voice. Girls Aloud won and their debut single "Sound of the Underground" reached Number 1 in the UK. Walsh managed the band to achieve a million singles sales while their debut album went platinum. Walsh also frequently appears on various talent shows on RTÉ in Ireland, the latest being You're A Star. He also covered for Simon Cowell as a judge on Britain's Got Talent during the Birmingham Auditions on Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th February due to Simon being ill.

The X Factor

Walsh wearing a JLS hoodie
See also: The X Factor

Walsh appeared from 2004 as a judge, along with Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne on the ITV talent show[5], The X Factor. In 2004 Walsh found chart success with G4, who went on to have two chart topping platinum selling albums, and completed two tours of the UK. In 2005 Walsh managed the winner Shayne Ward, whose debut single "That's My Goal" spent four weeks at UK number one.

In November 2005 it was reported that Walsh had quit the show mid-series out of protest regarding his treatment on the show; the most explicit example being a contestant drenching him with drinking water during a live recording[6]. Walsh returned on the Saturday evening's live show, stating that he could not abandon his remaining competitor and eventual winner, Shayne Ward. Ward went on to win the competition with over 10 million votes in the final. Walsh then went on to win The X Factor: Battle of the Stars with actress Lucy Benjamin.

ITV announced in March 2007 that Walsh would not return as a judge on The X Factor, but would remain behind the scenes managing some acts from the show[7]. According to UK tabloid newspaper The Sun, the decision to be replaced with two other judges came as a shock to him. However, on 22 June 2007, it was confirmed by Walsh that he would be returning as a judge on the fourth series of The X Factor.

Simon Cowell reportedly told off Louis Walsh for his comments about the Spice Girls. Walsh had said that the girl group were "past their sell-by date" and lacking in talent, but Cowell already had plans to book the girls on the show.[8]

In 2008, Walsh returned for the fifth series along with Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole who replaced Sharon Osbourne after Osbourne quit in June. In this series, Walsh mentored the groups, choosing JLS, Girlband and Bad Lashes to represent him in the live shows. Bad Lashes and Girlband were the first two acts to be eliminated over the first two weeks. JLS finished the show in second place.

Walsh returned to the sixth series show in 2009, again mentoring the groups for the fourth year of six. Walsh took Kandy Rain, Miss Frank and John & Edward to the live shows. Kandy Rain were eliminated in the first live results show, which Walsh was absent from due to the sudden death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately and was absent again on the Saturday and Sunday of week 2 due to Gately's funeral on 17 October. In week 3 of the live shows, another group from his category, Miss Frank, were eliminated from the competition. John & Edward were eliminated in Week 7 of the live shows.

List of groups and performers managed by Walsh

Walsh manages and has managed many singers and groups, including:

Personal views

He is on record as saying to The Irish Times that, in his opinion, "it wasn't cool to have a gay guy in [a] band" at the time the band was created. He has said he was unaware of Stephen Gately's sexuality when he selected him for Boyzone and had he known, he would have thought twice about picking him. Walsh only discovered the truth two months after the band's formation. Neither did Walsh realise Mark Feehily of Westlife was gay.[9]

Reconciliations with Boyzone

Despite the bitter feud mentioned previously, Louis Walsh had a public reconciliation with Boyzone, including Ronan Keating, on the ITV2 programme Ghosthunting with Louis Walsh and Boyzone in which they explored a network of subterranean streets beneath Edinburgh.

On 10 October 2009 Stephen Gately died in his sleep at the age of 33. Walsh commented:

"I'm in complete shock. I was only with him on Monday at an awards ceremony. We don't know much about what's happened yet. I only heard after The X Factor and we will rally around each other this week. He was a great man." [10]


External links

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