Westlife – Mark Feehily, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan and Shane Filan – are one of the biggest vocal bands in the world and their successes to date is unrivaled. They are the only recording artists in the history of the awards to win the prestigious Record of the Year three times. They have performed to over 3 million fans on four sell-out arena tours to become the biggest selling arena tour act ever. They have sold 45 million records globally; had multi-platinum albums in the UK alone; scored a record breaking 14 UK number ones, picked up two BRIT Awards, an MTV Europe Award and many Irish Meteor Awards. Westlife also secured the first ever Official Download Chart Number 1 with a live version of Flying Without Wings.
Look back through the pages of pop history and you find that the average lifespan of a boy band is shockingly short. Westlife have outlived all of them: The Osmonds, The Partridge Family, The Jackson Five; New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys, Take That; *NSync, Boyzone and 5ive. So how did they do it? Through the strength of their voices, the force of their personalities and an appetite for hard work. Rather than moving too far, too fast, Westlife have avoided burnout by growing with their fans and playing to their own strengths.
Westlife grew out of a band formed by Kian, Shane and Mark when they were performing in a local stage version of Grease in the west of Ireland. Originally a six-piece named IOU they were spotted by pop impresario Louis Walsh who groomed them as successors to his hit machine, Boyzone. Shedding three of the members and bringing in Bryan [McFadden] and Nicky, they first came to public notice as Westside, rapidly becoming the rising stars of the Smash Hits Tour in the winter of 1998 – helped by the fact that their management team now included a young man called Ronan Keating.
One small name change later (to avoid clashing with at least one US act performing as Westside) and they were on their way. First single Swear It Again went straight to number one in April 1999, swiftly followed by If I Let You Go and Flying Without Wings. Within a year they had made UK chart history with their fifth chart topper in a row, Fool Again. Before long they secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only band to have topped the charts seven times in a row. At the time of writing, the Westlife hit machine has notched up an amazing 12 number ones, plus 2 download number 1s.
The records have kept coming ever since – in every sense. They were the first ever UK-based band to boast four number ones in a single year. Four of their albums have gone straight to number one. Their bulging trophy cabinet includes two Brit awards, an MTV Europe award, two Record of the Year awards and countless honours from their travels around the world.
In March 2004, Bryan left the band to pursue a solo career – again, many commentators predicted the end for the band, but again, Westlife confounded the doomsayers: they went straight out and performed one of their best ever received tours (the Turnaround tour 2004), and now have returned with Allow Us To Be Frank. The Face To Face album, released in 2005, album became one of their most successful and they cracked into the Australian market with it going at the No.1 spot and staying there for weeks. After the successful release of The Love Album and a great tour Westlife released the 9th album of their phenomenal career Back Home. It was after their Back Home Tour in 2008 that the band announced they would take one year off before heading back to start recording their Where We Are. In 2010 Westlife started working with 6 times Grammy Nominnee and Grammy Producer of The Year producer / songwriter John Shanks. The result was the Gravity album, one of Westlife’s strongest albums. Following the release of Gravity, in 2011, Westlife announced that they would not renew their contract with their current record label, Simon Cowell’s SYCO and signed one-year deal with RCA Label Group UK in order to look into the best opportunities for the future of the band. They embarked on their hugely successful Gravity Tour which saw the band touring in South Africa and Asia as well. Westlife announced the release of their Greatest Hits album which was finally meant to be their last as a band. On 19th October 2011 Westlife announced that they would be taking their separate ways after a Farewell Tour in 2012. Huge demand for tickets saw them selling out Ireland’s national stadium, Croke Park (about 85.000 capacity) in just 4 minutes. Westlife have written history and will remain in the hearts and minds of their fans globally for their songs as well as attitude.
After 14 years, 26 top ten hits including 14 number one singles, 11 top 5 albums, 7 of which hit the top spot and have collectively sold over 44 million copies around the world, 10 sell out tours and countless memories that we will forever cherish, we today announce our plan to go our separate ways after a greatest hits collection this Christmas and a farewell tour next year. The decision is entirely amicable and after spending all of our adult life together so far, we want to have a well-earned break and look at new ventures. We see the greatest hits collection and the farewell tour as the perfect way to celebrate our incredible career along with our fans. We are really looking forward to getting out on the tour and seeing our fans one last time.
Over the years Westlife has become so much more to us than just a band. Westlife are a family. We would like to thank our fans who have been with us on this amazing journey and are part of our family too.
We never imagined when we started out in 1998 that 14 years later we would still be recording, touring and having hits together. It has been a dream come true for all of us.
Kian, Mark, Nicky and Shane