Westlife

Louis Walsh on Simon Cowell’s trick to take Shane from Westlife

Louis Walsh with Westlife. (Getty Images)

Louis Walch recalled how he tricked Simon Cowell into accepting Shane Filan into Westlife after the pair disagreed over whether or not he should be in the band.

Walsh, who ran Westlife and Boyzone before appearing on X factor and Pop Stars: RivalsTold Kate Thorton on White Wine Question Time Cowell was “wrong” about Filan and he wanted to keep him in the band.

The group had come to Walsh as six, all of whom were friends from the same part of Ireland. After bringing Cowell to Dublin to hear them sing, Walsh hoped they would be signed to his label, but Cowell told him that four of the boys had to go.

“I changed three,” Walsh recalls. “I couldn’t change four of them because they were all Sligo friends, so I got rid of the three that I thought didn’t have it.

And I said, “Shane. He didn’t like you. So what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna change your look.”

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They dyed her hair blonde and went out for more auditions, finding the final two members, Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden.

When Cowell returned to watch them, Walsh recalled saying “I’m signing them” minutes into the set.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Shane Filan of Westlife performs onstage during BBC2 Radio Live 2019 at Hyde Park on September 15, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Westlife’s Shane Filan performs onstage, 2019. (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Walsh recalls “A few weeks later he said to me, ‘Where did you find the little blond? He is really awesome. I said, ‘Simon, it’s Shane, who you said no to.'”

He said he told Cowell he was wrong about her and the couple laughed it off.

Walsh told Thornton, “He wasn’t always right, but he was great to work with. He made everything happen for Westlife.”

Listen to the full episode to hear what Louis misses about the 90s music scene, about when he told Colin Farrell acting was a waste of time, and why talent shows are now ‘boring’

He also remembered getting the call from Filan’s mother, before that time, who was a friend of his own mother back home.

Thornton had remembered Walsh from their time working together, including on X factorlike someone who was always on the phone and asked about the calls that changed the course of his career.

LONDON - DECEMBER 14: (L to R) Kate Thornton, Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh pose with the award for Best Comedy Entertainment Program for The X Factor at the British Comedy Awards 2005 at London Television Studios on December 14 2005 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Kate Thornton, Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh with the Best Comedy Entertainment Program award for The X Factor at the 2005 British Comedy Awards (Getty Images)

He said Filan’s mother called him on a very busy day at the office about Westlife, which was originally called IOU.

“I was getting loads of calls from loads of people.” he said. “But this woman, she was calling me. She just grabbed me, and she sold me this band.

Read more: Louis Walsh told Colin Farrell he was ‘wasting his time’ acting

“She told me all about her son Shane. And for some reason, I believed her, you know?

He remembered her saying that Filan was dancing like michael jacksonand when Thornton challenged him about it, Walsh said, “To her [he does].”

“I shouldn’t have taken that call,” Walsh told Thornton. “It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. And sometimes you take a chance in life. And I took a chance on that.”

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