Westlife started out as I.O.U. in 1998, a band that Shane Filan put together with help of his 2 friends Mark Feehily & Kian Egan. I.O.U. had 6 members in total and in cooperation with Mae, Shane's mum, they met Louis Walsh (Boyzone's manager at the time). He thought they were great and arranged for them to be the support act for the Backstreet Boys 2 weeks after their meeting. Changes were made and 3 members got kicked out of the the band and the name changed to Westside.
That's when they held auditions for 2 new lads, Nicky Byrne & Brian McFadden from Dublin were the lucky ones. And after the band was formed, the name changed to Westlife, which sounds kind of logical, seeing as the three orginal members are from Slio, in the Westlife of Ireland. Louis Walsh got Ronan Keating as his co-manager and that's when the adventure started.
In November 1998 Westlife signed their 5-album record deal and started making some promotion and in March 1999 they released 'Swear It Again'. This went straight into number one in the UK and other places all over the world. They were a hit! This success continued with ' If I Let You Go' and 'Flying Without Wings' which reached that same topspot that year. So the next step was an album, 'Westlife', which was released in November 1999 and shot straight to number one in Ireland! It entered the charts at number two in the UK but with the Christmas single Seasons In The Sun/I Have A Dream they secured that golden number one spot, once again.
Their 4th single, 'Fool Again' is released in March 200 and is also their 4th number one single. They tried to break the United States by releasing 'Swear It Again' with a brand new, cheesy, video. Didn't work, so they focused on the rest of the world. But their trip to the States got them a duet with Mariah Carey. They recorded a cover of Phil Collins' 'Against All Odd', which reached number one once again. This song is part of Westlife's second album, 'Coast To Coast', which reaches number one again. But after that success, their continuous to the massive record with most consecutive number ones stops right there. Because their Christmas single 'What Makes A Man' doesn't reach the number one spot, but gets into the charts at no.2, right behind Bob The Builder with his 'Can we Fix It?'. In February 2001 Westlife are the face of Comic Relief, as charity fund in the UK and they release a cover version of Billy Joel's Uptown Girl for that. Which is to this day their best selling single ever. The single raised about a millions UK pounds.
In October 2001 their 3rd album is released, 'World Of Our Own' of which 'Queen Of My Heart' was another no.1 single. At the official 'World Of Our Own' launch at the end of October, Shane admitted he was in a relationship with Gillian Walsh, Kian Egan's cousin.
In February they release their next hit: World Of Our Own. The follow-up, Bop Bop Baby sadly enough only gets in at no.5. A Real failure in the eyes of Shane and Brian, who wrote the song together. At the end of the year they release Unbreakable, which is also the title of their first Greatest Hits album.
During their Christmas holidays both Shane and Nicky propose to their girlfriends. In February Brian's second child is born and Shane is chosen to be Lily Sue's godfather.
In August Westlife member Nicky Byrne marries his childhood sweetheart, Georgina Ahern in France. Georgina is the daughter of former Irish premier Bertie Ahern. This day is also the day for Kian and ex-Hollyoaks star Jodi Albert to go public with their relationship as they show up for the wedding together.
After this memorial day the fab 5 get back ino the studio to work on their next album. The first single of that is to be Hey Whatever, a remake of Relish's Rainbow Zephyr. The song gets to no.4 in the UK charts. That song was followed by their version of Barry Manilow´s Mandy, which got them their 3rd Record of the Year Award (Flying Without Wings & My Love were honoured with that title before) and another massive no.1 single. With thoese singles the new album, Turnaround, is on it's way. In December another member of the band is getting married. Shane Filan marries his Gillian (Kian Egan's first cousin), on December 28th 2003. They get married in Ballyntuber Abbey, an old abbey in county Mayo in Ireland. This was the end of a successfull year for Westlife. Personal and businesswise.
2004 Starts of nice with a new single called Obvious, which is yet another number one hit. But the quiet start gets rocky when Brian McFadden decides to leave the band just 3 weeks before their Turnaround Tour would kick off. Five became four on 9th March 2004. He left the band after not being happy for a few months, and he wanted to spend more time with his wife Kerry and their kids Molly and Lily Sue. The rest of the boys say goodbye to him in an emotional press conference. But the band goes on. The four remaining members are determinded to make this tour their best yet. After that successfull tour, which actually broke a few records here and there, Westlife decided to change their style a little with a 'new' ratpack album, Allow Us To Be Frank. And they go to LA to shoot a few videos for Sintra songs like Ain't That a Kick In The Head, Fly Me To The Moon, Smile and Mack The Knife. They even feature in their own tv show, called She's The One. For which they wanted to find a female singer. She got to feature on Allow Us To Be Frank and sing a duet with them during the tv show. Joanne Hindley was the winner and sang The Way You Look Tonight for thousands of viewers.
After the rocky year of 2004, 2005 starts with great news. On February 5th Shane and his wife Gillian announce Gillian is pregant with their first child. They're over the moon and the baby is due in August. But due to some complications their daughter Nicole Rose is born 2 weeks early on 23th July. A month later Mark Feehily announces he's gay and that he's in a relationship with Kevin McDaid, former V member. A weight has been lifted on his shoulders and he clearly is happier after that. After all this fabulous news, there's even more. And this time it's a huge business success for the fab four. After a lot of critizism about their rat pack side track in 2004, their new single You Raise Me Up, is a massive hit all over the world. From Ireland to Asia and from Norway to Austrlia. This Josh Groban cover gets them back on the map in Australia and they even get to number one over there. Face to Face, on which You Raise Me Up is featured, is also a major success, especially as there is a lot of orginal material on there, and proves the world Westlife are still as good and maybe even better without Brian McFadden. At Christmas time it's time for another duet. After the legendary Mariah Carey it's now Diana Ross' turn to duet with the Irish lads. They record When You Tell Me That You Love Me and get second in the charts!
Amazing is the first single in 2006 which gets to no.4 in the charts. At the end of the year, November they release another covers album. This time the theme is love songs. The first single of the album is The Rose, orginally sung by Bette Midler. Which gains them another number one. The same month there's more great news, Nicky Byrne and his wife Georgina are expecting their first baby. And a few weeks later during a Dutch tv interview (Jensen!) he announces they're actually expecting twins! On the 20th of April Georgina gives birth to two little boys, Rocco and Jay. They are a few weeks early and really small and fragile they still have to stay in the hospital in Dublin, but get to go home a few weeks later. Their first public appearance is with their parents and grandpa Bertie Ahern on Irish tv. Their christening takes place in Dublin in July and all the Westlife members and their partners are there to witness the happening.
After yet again a successfull tour the band gets a few months off and go into the studio to record their 9th album, Back Home. First single from that album is a cover of the fabulous Michael Buble classic Home. Sadly enough for Westlife that only reaches no.3 in the charts. The album is lot more successfull though, that deserves another no.1 position in the charts. During an interview with the Late Late Show in November Westlife announce they are planning a gig in Dublin, which is to be their biggest gig ever. They will be playing Croke Park on 1st June 2008, Ireland's national stadium, which holds a massive 82,000 people. This show is part of their 10th anniversary celebrations. Those celebrations kick off a month later. In December Westlife feature in two tv shows. One is their very own "The Westlife Show", broadcasted by ITV on December 16th and on December 21st they are in Dublin to record an hour long Westlife special for The Late Late Show.
2008 is the year of Westlife's 10th anniversary and they celebrate that with another big tour. They also released Us Against The World on March 3, during the second week of their Back Home tour. This seemed to be a bad choice as the song only entered the charts at number 8. The video for the song featured Westlife's partners and kids, apart from Mark Feehily's boyfriend Kevin. He was not there when the video was shot. The tour starts off in Belfast at the end February and ends in Liverpool on June 29th. Sadly enough for the European fans the 4 shows that were planned in Europe, after 3 years of not touring there, are again, cancelled and replaced with more shows in the UK. This of course leaves a lot of European fans feeling let down. This doesn't mean the tour is less succesfull as another 2 records are being broken. Westlife are the only band ever to play 27 shows in Wembley and 50 in the Oddessey in Belfast. Also, Shane & Gillian announce there is a second baby on the way for the Filan family. After the UK tour, Westlife release a book called Westlife - Our Story and do a few signings in the UK and Ireland to promote the book. It's their story about their 10 years as a band. Talking about the highs and lows, an interesting read. That was the last appearance before they went on a well deserved break until at least July 2009, but they reassure fans they are coming back!
To be continued...