Friday 23 March 2018

From 'IOU' boys to millionaire men, what now for Louis's lads?

Ken Sweeney

Ken Sweeney

Ending up with a combined wealth of €35.5m, it is ironic that Westlife started out in a boyband called 'IOU'.

It was in 1998 that Shane Filan's mother, Mae, invited pop manager Louis Walsh to check out the Sligo-based group he had formed with schoolmates Kian Egan and Mark Feehily.

Jettisoning a couple of members, the pop svengali with the midas touch added Dubliners Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden.

Walsh already had a hit boyband called Boyzone but longed for an act without the egos of his main charges.

He certainly found it in Westlife.

Ironically, Boyzone not only supplied the fan base, but singer Ronan Keating also helped to manage the group. But, put simply, it was suits, stools and ballads that made Westlife multi-millionaires.

As evidenced by a string of hits starting with debut single 'Flying Without Wings', which entered the UK charts at number one in 1999, swiftly followed by 'If I Let You Go'.

Each of Westlife's first seven singles topped the charts, and before long Westlife had secured their place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

As a live draw, Westlife began their career supporting Boyzone around the UK, before landing a slot on the annual Smash Hits Roadshow, which resulted in them winning best new act award at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party.

More hits followed but there were hiccups along the way.

In March 2004, Bryan McFadden, always the most volatile, left the band to pursue a solo career.

The remaining members soldiered on with sell-out tours, albums and DVDs, keeping the awards rolling in with two Brit awards, an MTV Europe award and two Record of the Year awards.

In 2008 after recording and touring relentlessly, they reached what many saw as their pinnacle, selling out 82,000 tickets in a day for a triumphant show in Croke Park, after which they took a year off.

Always careful with their money, lead singer Shane Filan ploughed his into a property company he runs with his brother Finbar, which was behind a development of 91 houses in Dromahaire, Co Leitrim.

Filan already owns a mansion worth €2m in Carraroe, Co Sligo, overlooking 13 acres which is close to another palatial mansion he built for his parents.

Irish Independent

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