Simon Cowell lifts lid on stormy relationship with Westlife17/12/2011 17:57
By Lynne Kelleher
X FACTOR guru Simon Cowell has revealed how he almost came to blows with Westlife in a series of blazing rows when he was masterminding their career.
The record company executive is full of praise for the band, who delivered him 14 No1 singles, but gives a revealing insight into their fiery relationship in a new TV special.
The band also lift the lid on their friendship, their rocknroll lifestyle behind their clean-cut image and their most extreme fans.
And Simon Cowell is already hinting at a reunion by suggesting that the world wont have to cope without Westlife for ever.
Cowell admitted: I just cant accept the fact that there isnt going to be a Westlife any more but I have a hunch there will be.
He described them as enthusiastic puppies in the heady early days when they became an overnight boy band sensation.
He said: “I dont think Ive met anyone who worked as hard as these guys. They were like little puppies in those days.
“It was all about the fans. In those days the band was so happy and so enthusiastic and just wanted to sing.
“Always with them it was about the fans. They were always conscious that no matter how tired they were people had paid to see them and they wanted to put on a show.”
But he added the band had stand-up rows with him over their career as they got older.
He said: “We had face-offs. God we had fights. Me versus five, practically turning into a punch-up over disagreements.”
Over the past 14 years Westlife have had 26 top 10 hits, including 14 No1 singles, and 11 top five albums along with countless awards and sold more than 44 million records worldwide.
And Cowell says in the ITV special, Westlife For The Last Time, that he immediately knew the band had the X factor.
He added: “Normally in those situations you act a bit cool but Louis was sitting next to me and 30 seconds in I said, Louis were in.
“I wanted them in the studio as quickly as possible. I was in kind of a hurry to get the first record out. I wanted the public to see what I had seen as quickly as possible.”
Shane Filan tells how the crazy antics of hysterical fans in Asia when they first touched down in the continent brought home the extent of their fame.
He said: “The fans were pretty aggressive and they would see you and not realise and would be pulling bits of hair out of your head.
“In a way we loved it because it was Oh my God were so famous!”
In the ITV special, presented by Christine Bleakley, the band candidly talk about their relationships after being on the road for 14 years. Nicky Byrne revealed he views his bandmates as family members. He said: “It’s like putting your four brothers on a tour bus for 14 years. You are going to disagree with things and you are going to go head-to-head with people.
“Its all happened except we’ve never actually got in a situation where one of us actually punched the other.
“We’re probably worse than a bunch of girls. I dont know what the Spice Girls was like but I think we were quite honest with each other from the start.”
He also tells how he thought Louis Walsh wanted to put him into a pub band when he first auditioned for Westlife.
He said: “I sang the song Father And Son and I remember thinking they werent stopping me and they had stopped other people.
“I came off the stage and Louis came over. I had never met him before and he said, Stay there, stay there I want you in my next pub band.
He was saying pop band but I thought he was saying pub band and I thought, I dont want to be in a pub band.
The dad of two admitted he was reluctant to accept the end of the band and said: “I was probably the last one to come to terms with it and go, Yeah, is it the right thing? Westlife is all we know. I really believe weve made the right decision and lets see whats next.”
And the only Dublin member of the band since Brian McFadden left the rest of the lads are from Sligo said he will always keep Ireland as his home.
He added: “My family and all my roots are still in Dublin. Youre Irish and youre proud of it. You want to come home and share it all with everybody you know so well.
“My children [twin boys Jay and Rocco] will be starting school in Dublin so Dublin and Ireland will always be where my home is.”
Bandmate Kian Egan echoed his sentiments and said: “We are brothers in every sense of the world. We fall out, we make up, we kiss, we cuddle, we fight, we argue but we love each other and thats the way it is with us. Mark Feehily said the band had a rocknroll lifestyle during the early days of fame in the late 90s.
He added: “We lived it up. We were 20 years old and it was kind of, Why not?
“We were like caged monkeys getting set free and we were hanging out of the chandeliers after every gig until the sun came up and even much past it.
The gay star also spoke about his struggle to come out in 2005 and agonising over the reaction of female fans.
He said: “Im not stupid. Ive read Smash Hits since I was five years old and it was all about the girls fancying the boys. I completely put it back down inside myself and locked the door and threw away the key. In your mind it gets very dark and very scary. You feel alone.”
Mark added he was amazed with the reaction of the fans and said: “We were just about the release You Raise Me Up when I came out publicly and anybody who argues it would have damaged Westlifes success can put a sock in it because we had the biggest hit of our career.
“Westlife wouldnt be possible without us being all happy in our personal life. Its really important to spend time at home and do normal everyday things.
“I will always see myself as member of Westlife until the day I die.”
- WESTLIFE For The Last Time will be shown on ITV tonight at 9.05pm.