Louis Walsh
Full name

Michael Louis Vincent Walsh


August 5, 1952 (age 64)


Entertainment manager,
Television personality

Michael Louis Vincent Walsh (known as Louis Walsh) is an Irish entertainment manager and judge on The X Factor (UK).

Band Management Edit

Boyzone Edit

In the 1990s, Walsh rose to prominence when he formed Boyzone, a pop band defined as "the Irish version" of UK band Take That. Walsh managed the group to international success, achieving 16 top three singles, six of which were number one, and four number one albums, selling 25 million copies worldwide. Their signature hits include No Matter What, Words and Baby Can I Hold You.

During Boyzone's temporary hiatus in 1999, lead singer Ronan Keating began releasing solo music, and was initially managed by Walsh. Keating achieved number one hits with "When You Say Nothing At All" and "Life Is A Roller Coaster", while his debut album sold 9 million copies worldwide. Keating and Walsh later fell out, with Keating claiming Walsh tried to ruin his solo career and "is not a nice character". Keating's career was unaffected by the split, he would go on to sell 20 million records worldwide. The two ended their feud in 2008.

Boyzone returned from hiatus in 2007, toured in 2008 and released three more albums, their most recent being 2014's Dublin To Detroit.

On October 10, 2009, Boyzone's Stephen Gately died suddenly in his sleep, at the age of 33. Walsh commented on Gately's passing, stating: "I'm in complete shock. I was only with him on Monday at an awards ceremony...we will rally around each other this week. He was a great man." It was found Gately died of natural causes. Walsh later revealed he closeted Gately, spreading false stories about relationships with women to the press, in order to keep his homosexuality a secret. Gately was scared to be openly gay because "at that time it wasn’t cool to be gay and be in a boyband, because the girls had to like him". Gately was eventually outed by The Sun, but both Gately and Walsh were relieved when the fan reaction was positive[1]".

Westlife Edit

Walsh formed Irish boy band Westlife in 1998, with Keating co-managing, and the group initially signing to Simon Cowell's Syco Music. Between 1998 and 2011, Westlife released 10 albums, two greatest hits compilations and sold over 50 million records worldwide. Their signature hits include Swear It Again, If I Let You Go, You Raise Me Up and Uptown Girl.

Union J Edit

In December 2012, Walsh began managing UK boy band and X Factor alums Union J. The group have had four top 10 UK hits and released two albums, their first debuting at #6 in the UK, before eventually going silver. In 2013, Walsh expressed disappointment that Union J had not been more successful[2].

Television Career Edit

Walsh's first appeared on television in 2001, on the Irish version of Popstars. The following year, Walsh was a judge on the UK version of Popstars: The Rivals, with Pete Waterman and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. Walsh frequently appears on various talent shows on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). He covered for Simon Cowell as a judge on Britain's Got Talent during series four's Birmingham auditions on February 3rd and 4th due to Cowell being ill. He filled in for David Hasselhoff at the London auditions in the following series, when Hasselhoff was unavailable, due to appearing in pantomime. Walsh also appeared on The X Factor USA series two auditions in Kansas City, again covering for Simon Cowell.

In January 2012, Walsh appeared on the ITV documentary series The Talent Show Story where he was interviewed about being a judge on The X Factor and Popstars The Rivals. Fellow Popstars judge Pete Waterman also appeared on the programme as well as past and present X Factor judges, including Dannii Minogue, Simon Cowell, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow. In Spring 2012, Walsh appeared in the ITV panel show Mad Mad World.

The X Factor Edit

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

In November 2005, Walsh quit X Factor mid-series, out of protest regarding his treatment on the show.

In March 2007, ITV announced Walsh would not return as a judge on The X Factor, but would remain behind the scenes managing acts from the show. Eventually, Cowell decided to re-hire Walsh to the panel. On June 22, 2007, Walsh confirmed he would be returning as a judge for the fourth series of The X Factor.

In 2008, Walsh returned for the fifth series along with Cowell, Minogue and Cheryl Cole, who was hired after Sharon Osbourne quit. 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, but JLS finished as runners-up.

Walsh returned to the sixth series in 2009, again mentoring groups for the fourth time in six years. During the judges houses stage, the Groups and Walsh flew to Lake Como in Italy, where Ronan Keating helped Walsh pick his final three. Walsh took Kandy Rain, Miss Frank and John & Edward to the live shows. Kandy Rain were eliminated in the first live results show, from which Walsh was absent due to the sudden death of Stephen Gately. Walsh was absent again on the Saturday and Sunday of the second week of live shows, due to Gately's funeral on October 17th.

In 2010, Walsh returned to the seventh series of The X Factor, along with Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue who returned during the live shows. Nicole Scherzinger, Geri Halliwell, Katy Perry, Pixie Lott and Natalie Imbruglia all appeared as guest judges alongside Walsh and Cowell during the auditions, in place of Dannii Minogue and, in some cases, Cheryl Cole. Walsh mentored the Over 28s category on the seventh series of The X Factor. In the judges houses stage, Walsh took his acts to Adare in Ireland. Walsh was helped by former judge Sharon Osbourne. His last act, Mary Byrne, was eliminated in the semi-final on December 5, 2010.

In 2011, for series eight, Walsh joined new panellists Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos, who replaced former judges Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole, all of whom left the show after series seven. This meant that, following Cowell's departure, Walsh was the only remaining original judge.

During the live shows, in an interview with former judge Dannii Minogue, Walsh stated that he "didn't know" whether he would return as a judge in 2012. However on May 3, 2012 Walsh confirmed he would return for his ninth series alongside Tulisa Contostavlos and Gary Barlow.

Walsh returned to the judging panel of The X Factor for the tenth series, alongside Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and fellow original judge Sharon Osbourne, who replaced Tulisa Contostavlos.

In 2014, Walsh returned for the eleventh series, while Sharon Osbourne, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger were replaced by former judges Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole, and new judge Mel B.

In 2015, Walsh stated that he was considering not returning to the twelfth series of The X Factor, citing his desire to return to full-time music management.  After rumours circulated that he had been fired from the show, Walsh announced his decision to quit the show, stating that he had not been fired, but he was not "hanging around for them this year."

Other TV Appearances Edit

Walsh has made multiple appearances on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway since 2004, and has appeared as a guest panelist on 8 Out of 10 Cats and Celebrity Juice.

In 2009, Walsh appeared on the ITV show Anonymous hosted by Stephen Mulhern.

In July 2011, he raced the "Reasonably Priced Car", a Kia Cee'd, during series 17 of Top Gear.

On September 14, 2013, Walsh's house featured in an episode of Through the Keyhole, and on 26 December 2014 he featured on the show again – this time as a celebrity panelist.

On September 1, 2014, Walsh appeared on Who's Doing the Dishes?

In January 2016, ITV announced that Walsh would appear in Drive, a new show hosted by Vernon Kay, which pits eight celebrities against each other in a series of races in different vehicles. The final involved a race with Formula 4000 racing cars.

Relationship With One Direction Edit

2010-2014 Edit

As a judge during the seventh series of The X Factor, Walsh was partially responsible for helping form One Direction. In the groups initial solo auditions, Walsh doubted Harry Styles was ready for the competition, but said "yes" to Liam, Niall, Louis and Zayn. He later stated "They were good solo stars but they weren’t solo winners. Simon, Nicole and me made the final choice on the line-up, so I’m going to claim a bit of the credit. But Simon pressed the buttons to make One Direction happen worldwide"[3]. In 2010, Walsh told The Mirror that One Direction were "the perfect boy band"[4], and would later tell the band during one of the live shows that he had never seen the level of hype surrounding them before. In 2011, Walsh caused controversy when he attempted to make Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack comment on her alleged relationship with Harry during a live show. In 2012, Walsh attempted to create a rivalry between One Direction and his X Factor group JLS, stating: "I think every boyband watches every other boyband coming up. I mean they came from this show and One Direction have had an amazing career, so they are probably watching the new kids Union J"[5]. Again in 2013, Walsh announced plans to form another boy band in Ireland, stating "It has been 12 years since I did auditions for a boy band. It's boys over 16 from anywhere, any nationality, but they must be prepared to work hard. Vocals are key. I'm looking for five pop stars and I have a major record company and a high profile UK partner[6]". Walsh and Cowell's struggles to form another X Factor boy band continued into 2014, with the ill-fated Stereo Kicks, an 8 piece band, causing friction between the two judges. Walsh stated "Eight never worked in a boyband, but he put eight people together. Then [Simon] starts blaming me on live TV [for the band being in the bottom three]. The way he said I didn't connect with them, I really work with them, they're always in my dressing room[7]". Stereo Kicks split up a year later, and two members later blamed Walsh for his lack of support[8][9].

2015-2016 Edit

Walsh began to show contempt for One Direction in 2015, stating in March that he knew Zayn would exit the group and that they were "having problems", but believed they would be successful as a four piece[10]. In May 2015, it was speculated Louis Tomlinson could take Walsh's place as X Factor judge. Walsh lashed out at these claims, stating "He's the least popular member of One Direction, so I'm not sure"[11]. Tomlinson ultimately served as Simon Cowell's guest judge in the judge's house's portion of the 2015 series. After One Direction announced a temporary hiatus in August 2015, Walsh stated "It’s not the end...five or six years and they'll get back together. I’ve never seen that connection [to fans] with any other band. Nothing's gone wrong, it’s just they need a break[12]". In November 2015, Walsh claimed to be "sick of" One Direction, stating "I'm so bored of One Direction, honest to god. I've had five years of them - I wish they'd go off in a different direction! I don't care now, I've had enough. I saw them on X Factor recently and they were just going through the motions. If that was Take That or Westlife, they'd really put on a show. They're the luckiest guys in the world"[13]. Walsh's contempt for the group continued into 2016, with the X Factor judge claiming in October: "Simon created monsters and that was it. They all think they’re going to be solo stars. They’re not. Only Harry. That’s it. Then they’ll be sorry they broke up and it’ll be too late because there’s another boy band. That’s what always happens in boy bands."[14] In 2015, Liam Payne wrote a song for Walsh's boy band HomeTown[15].

On December 8 2016, Walsh reacted angrily when asked about Cheryl during an X Factor interview for his band, Five After Mindight. Liam responded to Walsh's comments by tweeting: "Congratulations Louis Walsh for setting the worst example on handling media for his band who are about to step into a very hard industry. Maybe it's about time you realise it's not all about you and shut the f**k up for once, let them speak".[16]

Groups and Performers managed by Walsh Edit

  • Boyzone (1993-2008)
  • Westlife (1998-2012)
  • Samantha Mumba (2000-2002)
  • Ronan Keating (2000-03,08)
  • Bellefire (1999–2004)
  • Six (2001-02)
  • Girls Aloud (2002)
  • G4 (2004-07)
  • Shayne Ward (2005-09)
  • Jedward (2009–13)
  • Wonderland (2010–11)
  • Union J (2013–2015)
  • Shane Filan (2012–present)
  • Myles and Connor (2012–present)
  • Hometown (2013–present)

Awards and Honors Edit

  • 2009 Mayo Person of the Year

References Edit

  1. Louis Walsh: I planted fake stories to cover up sexuality of Boyzone's Stephen Gately
  2. X Factor Union J: Louis Walsh disappointed
  3. Louis Walsh reflects on a decade of X Factor
  4. X Factor's Louis Walsh: "One Direction are the perfect boy band"
  5. One Direction Rivalry
  6. Louis Walsh holds auditions for new One Direction
  7. Louis Walsh "I Never Wanted 8"
  8. Stereo Kicks split
  9. Stereo Kicks 2
  10. On Zayn's exit
  11. Louis Tomlinson
  12. Louis On 1D Hiatus
  13. Walsh: I'm sick of One Direction
  14. Oct
  15. Liam Song
  16. 'Shut the f**k up for once!' Liam Payne hits out at Louis Walsh after the X Factor judge swore at a reporter when asked about pregnant Cheryl
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