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From RTE's "Buried Alive" Biographies

Louis Walsh - 1954 - 2004

Louis Walsh was born in 1954 in Kiltimagh in the heart of Co. Mayo. He was one of nine children. At the age of fifteen Louis began promoting his first band, Time Machine, a three piece that bore similarities to Status Quo. He would use his local phone box to ring major promoters in Dublin like Jim Hand, Oliver Barry or Jim Aiken in order to secure support slots for his band with the big showbands.

Two members of the Royal Blues Showband, Frank and Vincent Gill owned a pub in Claremorris where Louis worked on a part time basis. Through his work in the bar Louis got involved with the Royal Blues Showband and assisted their secretary who worked in a small office in Claremorris. He watched the band's manager Andy Creighton as he went about his work and learned a great deal about determination and getting things done.

Louis moved to Dublin and continued working for the Royal Blues Showband. When the band split up he had no intention of returning to Kiltimagh Tommy Hayden Enterprises, a Dublin based artist management firm took Louis on he started by making tea and doing a little bit of publicity for the showbands. He eventually became like a surrogate son to Hayden, from whom he learnt a great deal. Before he ever graduated to booking out bands himself, Hayden would send him around Dublin delivering press releases and photographs to various newspapers. This enabled him to establish important media contacts from very early on in his career.

By the end of the seventies the showband era had come to an end and rock and disco had taken the place of the showband acts in the public's affections. By 1976 the showbands that Louis had been booking out such as Red Hurley and the Nevada and Billy Brown and the Freshmen had either splintered or disappeared.

On the 13th of March 1979 a young singer called Johnny Logan signed a contract with Tommy Hayden Enterprises. Louis was the driving force behind the deal having recognised Logan's potential after meeting him on a bus. The contract that Logan signed with Hayden Enterprises made them the sole management and promoters for the singer. Louis had high hopes for Logan and felt that he could be very successful if he was given the right break. Shay Healy who was then a press officer in RTE had written a song called What's Another Year after his mother's death. Healy believed that Logan's voice would suit the song perfectly and persuaded him to sing it at The National Song Contest that year. Logan won the contest by along with Louis and his entourage travelled to The Hague for The Eurovision Song Contest.

On the 19th of April 1980 Johnny Logan won the 25th Eurovision Song Contest in front of 500 million TV viewers. At that moment Logan made the transition from little-known Irish singer to Global star. One of Louis's ultimate dreams became a reality on the 23rd of April 1980 when Logan appeared on Top of the Pops. What's Another Year sold half a million copies within three days of its release catapulting Logan to No. 1 in eleven European countries including Ireland and the UK. He was the first ever Irish male to make it to No.1 in the UK charts. When Logan's second single Save Me was released in August 1980, it received dreadful reviews and failed to reach even No.100 in the charts. CBS (now Sony) had spent £87,000 on Logan's album, however the failure of his second single prompted them to cut their losses and he was quickly dropped. However, nobody could have accused Louis of losing faith in the singer throughout the 1980's. His first endorsement of Logan's abilities came about in 1984 when he entered Linda Martin into that year's National Song Contest with a song called Terminal 3 which had been penned by Logan. Linda won the National Song Contest with Logan's song. The song came second in the competition behind a novelty act from Sweden. On returning to Dublin Louis was still anxious to achieve something more.

Logan's barren years came to a welcome end in 1987 when his self-penned song Hold Me Now came first in the National Song Contest. Louis and Shay Healy encouraged him to enter the competition one last time. Logan won the Eurovision with 172 points. He was once again catapulted into the stratosphere of fame.

In scenes reminiscent of seven years earlier, thousands welcomed him home in Dublin airport. However, it wasn't to be and Logan's career crashed and burned for the second time. Louis left Hayden Enterprises in December 1989 and joined forces with Carol Hanna after she left Hayden's company to set up her own business, 'Carol & Associates'. Together Hanna and Walsh managed Linda Martin and Who's Eddie. They also brought in acts from England such as Sinitta, Sonia, Bronski Beat and Hazel O'Connor.

When Louis had stopped managing Logan, they had agreed to get together if a suitable opportunity arose. Louis convinced Logan to give Eurovision another chance and he wrote Why Me for Linda Martin. Linda won the contest in Malmo in Sweden. At this stage Louis's experiences with Eurovision had indicated to him that he really wanted to work with artists in an international arena.

In 1993 Louis approached Paul Keogh, the director of Polygram Ireland and announced that he was going to form a new Irish boyband that would compete directly with Take That. However contacts that he had made with various journalists throughout the years meant that his boyband auditions, along with his phone number were included in articles in assorted newspapers in November 1993. 300 young men turned up to the auditions, which were held in the Ormond Centre on Dublin's Ormond Quay. He whittled the 300 down to 50 and they came back a week later and auditioned again. The original line up for Boyzone was comprised of six members, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Keith Duffy, Shane Lynch, Richard Rock and Mark Walton. He used the publicity generated by the auditions to negotiate an opportunity for the band to appear on the Late Late Show. Their subsequent performance was ridiculed by the press. The performance haunted the band for the rest of their career however Louis was undeterred because he had always adhered to the notion that any publicity was better than none at all. Mark Walton and Richard Rock were unceremoniously ejected from the band after two months because Louis felt that they didn't fit in. Mikey Graham was drafted in as a replacement and the Boyzone line up was complete.

Louis decided that the group's first single would be a cover of the Detroit Spinner's song Working My Way Back to You. Paul Keogh gave them a record deal with Polygram but Louis found it extremely difficult to get anyone to produce the single. Eventually Ian Levine of Tropicana Records agreed to cut the record at a cost of £10,000, money that Louis did not have. He decided to approach John Reynolds, the owner of the Pod nightclub in Dublin who he had known for about ten years. Reynolds provided the £10,000 that was needed and it was decided that Louis would look after the music and Reynolds would look after the business side of things. The band's first single made it to No.3 in the Irish charts in March 1994. Ronan's party piece the Cat Steven's hit Father and Son featured on the B-side of the record. Ronan had convinced Louis to include the song. The video for the single cost £4000 to make. Louis decided that the only way that the band would make significant impact would be through sheer hard work.

Paul Keogh of Polygram offered Boyzone an album deal because he felt that having invested so much money in the group, they needed to maximise their chances of recouping it. Louis came up with the idea of recording the Osmond's hit Love Me For A Reason. The record company weren't exactly enthusiastic about the song but Louis was insistent that it would be a smash hit. Love Me for a Reason went to No. 1 in the Irish charts in October 1994. Although Polygram Ireland had signed the band for worldwide distribution, they couldn't persuade Polygram in the UK to release the single in over there. The frustration felt by Louis and the band was somewhat appeased by the fact that they were offered a place on the Smash Hits Roadshow in the UK. The band won the Best Newcomer Award and this meant that they would be included in the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, which was televised to an audience of 11 million on the BBC. Their appearance on the show combined with the Best Newcomer Award succeeded in driving the single to No. 2 in the British charts. It sold over 700,000 copies and also made it into the top ten in most European countries. Boyzone were now an official success.

Louis was always adamant that the group would behave in a polite manner. He was shrewd enough to know that this politeness and likeability would make up for the band's other shortcomings.

In December 1994 Boyzone appeared on Top of the Pops twice and played a sold out concert in the Point Theatre. Their hard work paid off when their debut album Said and Done reached No. 1 and eventually sold over 1.5 million copies around the world. The UK's premier boyband had split leaving a big gap in the market that Boyzone were only too happy to fill. The record company reacted straight away and released the group's second album, A Different Beat in October 1996 and it went straight to No.1. Ronan received an Ivor Novello award for writing Picture of You.

Boyzone changed record companies from Polygram Ireland to Polydor in the UK in 1997. Where We Belong entered the charts at No.1 in August 1998. The album spawned four No.1 singles Throughout his time managing Boyzone, Louis was always aware of the necessity to cultivate new talent so that he would have something to focus on when the group's shelf life expired.

Louis received a phonecall phonecall from Mae Filan, Shane Filan's mother, who told him about a boyband that her son had set up called IOYou in Sligo. Louis agreed to meet them and subsequently met Shane, Kian and one of the other band members in Dublin. They came to Ronan's 21st birthday party in the Red Box and Louis was immediately impressed by their vocal ability. The band's original line up consisted of six young men from Sligo. They had achieved moderate success with a single called Together Girl Forever, which had been released on an Indie label in their hometown. The first thing that Louis did before managing them was to secure a supporting slot for them at a Backstreet Boys concert in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day. This gig convinced him that the band could rise to the challenge of performing to big crowds.

Louis convinced Simon Cowell, one of Britain's most respected A&R figures to come to Ireland to meet the band. He was distinctly unimpressed and told Louis that three of the band members would have to go. One of the band members, Derek Lacey was asked to leave and Louis changed the band's name to Westside. They appeared on a Beat on the Street gig and were then dispatched to London to record two tracks with the respected pop producer Steve Mac. At this point Louis decided that another member didn't fit his criteria and asked Graham Keighron to leave the band. Louis acquired two new members Nicky Byrne and Bryan McFadden. The group had six members again but Louis was still unhappy, he dropped Michael Garrett. Louis had no problem finding a record deal for Westside, the record companies were literally falling over themselves to sign the band.

Simon Cowell of RCA, owned by BMG signed the band for £4 million in October 1998. Before the contract had been signed Westside had toured with Boyzone throughout Europe. Their name was changed to Westlife after it was discovered that there were eight other groups with Westside in their name on the National Band Register. Meanwhile, Louis had discovered a new act in the shape of Samantha Mumba. He met her in Lillies Bordello one night when she was having a meeting with Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe (the Spice Girls producers). He told her mother Barbara that he was interested in managing her and after she had carried out background checks to investigate Louis's credentials she decided that he was the right person to handle Samantha's career. Louis quickly circulated rumours of his coup in the music industry in the hope that senior A&R figures would be eager to sign her. Colin Barlow of Polydor secured the contract with the promise to make Mumba a priority artist.

Westlife's first single Swear it Again reached No.1 in the UK in March 1999 and stayed there for two weeks, beating both Fatboy Slim and The Offspring to the top spot. Ronan Keating was credited as the band's co-manager in what has since been branded a ploy to secure extra publicity for the band while simultaneously boosting Ronan's profile outside Boyzone. In the same month Boyzone had secured another No.1 There were many rumours circulating around this time that suggested that the demise of Boyzone was imminent. They had two further hits in 1999 from their greatest hits album By Request. These were You Needed Me (No.1) and Everyday I Love You (No.3).

A further indicator to the imminent demise of Boyzone occurred in July 1999 when Ronan Keating scored a solo No.1 hit with When You Say Nothing at All, a song that was included on the Notting Hill soundtrack. Louis's new protégé's, Westlife had no problem taking over their mantle and embarked on a serious assault on the charts. Meanwhile Ronan Keating announced that he was going to take a break from Boyzone and concentrate on an album of his own. Under Louis's stewardship Boyzone had been one of the most successful boybands ever. They had 16 top three singles, six of which were No.1's, four No.1 albums, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The band members had each become millionaires many times over as had Louis and John Reynolds.

In April 2000, Westlife's fifth single Fool Again reached No.1 making them the first band to achieve No.1 hits with their first five successive singles. Louis had recognised that Boyzone's days were numbered and had cleverly replaced them with another act who looked better, sang better and were equipped with superior material and producers.

By May 2000 Samantha Mumba's debut album was complete. Her first single Gotta Tell You reached No.2 in Ireland and No.1 in the UK charts. Louis had once again succeeded in launching a hugely successful act. Her second single Body to Body, which sampled from David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes reached No.5 in the UK charts. Gotta Tell You was remixed by Teddy Riley, Michael Jackson's producer and shot to No.1 in the US Billboard Charts. One of Louis's acts had succeeded in attaining a US No.1, the holy grail in modern pop music.

The biggest difference between Mumba and Louis's other acts is her potential longevity. Louis knows that the market for any individual boyband or girlband is finite whereas Mumba has a whole lifetime ahead of her. Meanwhile, Louis had continued to manage Ronan Keating's solo career. Ronan scored a No.1 hit with Life is a Rollercoaster in July 2000. The album Ronan made it to No.1 the following month. The other two singles from the album, The Way You Make Me Feel and Lovin' Each Day, made it to No.6 and No.2 respectively. In total the album managed to sell over 4.4 million copies.

In November 2000 Westlife released their second album Coast to Coast When their tour ended RCA wasted no time in putting out another album. World of Our Own was released in November 2001 and went straight to No.1 as did the first single from the album Queen of My Heart

By 2001, Louis's success in the charts and his propensity to generate newspaper headlines meant that he had become a figure of hate for many in the Irish rock fraternity.

In September 2001 it was announced that Louis would be a judge on the Irish version of the TV franchise, Popstars. He would manage the resultant band and claimed that it would be his last. The show pushed Louis into the limelight. The final line-up was comprised of Kyle Anderson, 19 from Belfast; Liam McKenna, 19 from Tyrone; Emma O'Driscoll, 19 from Limerick; Andy Orr, 21 from Dublin; Sinead Sheppard, 19 from Cork; and Keating. The band, who were called Six didn't achieve the success that they had hoped for. Their first single, There's a Whole Lotta Lovin', a cover of the 1972 Guys and Dolls hit was released in February 2002 and went to No.1 in the Irish charts and eventually went six times platinum in Ireland. It also went gold in New Zealand and South Africa where the Popstars programme had been bought and transmitted. Their second single also reached the No.1. However, Simon Cowell was not happy with the line-up of the band and kept on delaying their launch in the UK. They were never launched in Britain and have since gone their separate ways having been dropped by the their record label. While Popstars didn't produce a successful pop group, it did make Louis a household name in Ireland. He would never enjoy anonymity again.

Not content with having become a household name in Ireland, September 2002 saw Louis embark on a project that would considerably raise his profile in the UK. He featured as a judge on the second series of the UK version of Popstars which was called Popstars:The Rivals. His fellow judges were Pete Waterman and Geri Halliwell. The new series had a slightly different format to the original in that two groups were chosen, a girl band and a boyband. The girlband would be signed to Polydor with Louis as manager and the boyband would be managed by Waterman and signed to his own label PWL. The two bands then fought to achieve the much-coveted UK Christmas No.1. Louis's girlband Girls Aloud beat the boyband who were called One True Voice to get the Christmas No.1 with their single Sound of the Underground Girls Aloud have since had a very successful career .Westlife released their fourth album Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits in November 2002.

Ronan Keating and Louis parted company after disagreements over money and artistic direction in April 2003. His latest album Turn it On entered the charts at No.31, which marked a big change from his first two albums, which had both gone to No.1 under Louis's management.

In November 2003 Louis featured as a judge on the second series of RTE's You're a Star alongside Linda Martin and Phil Coulter. The show was held over a period of five months and culminated in a live final in March 2004 where Louis's wildcard, Chris Doran from Waterford was chosen to represent Ireland in the Eurovision. Doran travelled to Turkey in May 2004 and finished humiliatingly in second last place with a mere seven points.

At the beginning of 2004, Louis announced that he wouldn't be taking on any more acts and would concentrate all of his attention on his four current acts, Bellefire, Girls Aloud, Westlife and Samantha Mumba.

Bellefire will be soon be releasing their new album Spin the Wheel.

Girls Aloud are currently in the process of releasing their new single, The Show, which will be taken from their second album.

Westlife are currently nearing the end of their four month World tour which started in Belfast on the 29th of March. It's their first tour since Bryan McFadden's shock departure from the group on the 3rd of March 2004. Since 1999, the group have managed to accumulate 12 UK No.1's and have sold 32 million records. Their latest album Turnaround was released in November 2003 and has produced two hit singles to date, Mandy, a cover of the Barry Manilow hit which scored a UK No. 1 in November 2003 and Obvious which made it to No.3 in the charts in March 2004.

Samantha Mumba is currently in the process of developing her movie career Louis claims that she is working on a new album on which she will attempt to emulate Janet Jackson's sound.

Louis's latest TV project will see him team up with legendary BMG A&R man and international celebrity Simon Cowell in his new venture The X Factor. The programme will take the place of Pop Idol in ITV's autumn schedule and will give people of all ages the chance to audition and showcase their singing talents. Both Louis and Simon will be judges on the programme alongside Sharon Osbourne.

What keeps Louis Walsh going is the thought of the next No.1. He doesn't think that he'll be remembered because he is involved in disposable pop music, "when it's gone, it's gone." However many would beg to differ. He put Ireland on the map when it came to pop music and throughout the last ten years in particular, has become an expert at masterminding his position in the public arena to optimum effect.


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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006