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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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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