Michael Louis Vincent Walsh (also known as Louis Walsh) is an Irish entertainment manager and judge on The X Factor (UK).

Band Manager

In the 1990s, Walsh decided to create an Irish version of Take That, which the papers picked up on when Walsh advertised the open auditions. The band created was Boyzone, whom Walsh managed to international success achieving 16 top three singles, six of which were number ones, as well as four number one albums, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide.

When Ronan Keating announced he wanted to take a break from Boyzone, Walsh continued to manage his career. Keating achieved a number one hit with "Life Is a Rollercoaster" in 2000 while his album sold 4.4 million copies. Keating and Walsh later agreed to part company as Keating's solo career reached an all-time high. Walsh then went back to the boy band formula to create Westlife, which Keating co-managed with Walsh for the first couple of Westlife's number one singles and albums.

Despite an earlier bitter feud, Walsh had a public reconciliation with Boyzone, including Ronan Keating, on the ITV2 programme Ghosthunting With... Louis Walsh and Boyzone in which they explored a network of subterranean streets beneath Edinburgh.

In December 2012, he became Union J's manager.

Relationship with One Direction

2010 - 2014

As a judge during the seventh series of The X Factor, Walsh was partially responsible for helping form One Direction. In the groups initial solo auditions, Walsh doubted Harry Styles was ready for the competition, but said "yes" to LiamNiallLouis and Zayn.

He later stated "They were good solo stars but they weren’t solo winners. Simon, Nicole and me made the final choice on the line-up, so I’m going to claim a bit of the credit. But Simon pressed the buttons to make One Direction happen worldwide"[1].

In 2010, Walsh told The Mirror that One Direction were "the perfect boy band"[2], and would later tell the band during one of the live shows that he had never seen the level of hype surrounding them before.

In 2011, Walsh caused controversy when he attempted to make Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack comment on her alleged relationship with Harry during a live show. In 2012, Walsh attempted to create a rivalry between One Direction and his X Factor group JLS, stating: "I think every boyband watches every other boyband coming up. I mean they came from this show and One Direction have had an amazing career, so they are probably watching the new kids Union J".

Again in 2013, Walsh announced plans to form another boy band in Ireland, stating "It has been 12 years since I did auditions for a boy band. It's boys over 16 from anywhere, any nationality, but they must be prepared to work hard. Vocals are key. I'm looking for five pop stars and I have a major record company and a high profile UK partner"[3].

Walsh and Cowell's struggles to form another X Factor boy band continued into 2014, with the ill-fated Stereo Kicks, an 8 piece band, causing friction between the two judges. Walsh stated "Eight never worked in a boyband, but he put eight people together. Then [Simon] starts blaming me on live TV [for the band being in the bottom three]. The way he said I didn't connect with them, I really work with them, they're always in my dressing room"[4]. Stereo Kicks split up a year later, and two members later blamed Walsh for his lack of support.

2015 - 2016

Walsh began to show contempt for One Direction in 2015, stating in March that he knew Zayn would exit the group and that they were "having problems", but believed they would be successful as a four piece[5]. In May 2015, it was speculated Louis Tomlinson could take Walsh's place as X Factor judge[6]. Walsh lashed out at these claims, stating "He's the least popular member of One Direction, so I'm not sure". Tomlinson ultimately served as Simon Cowell's guest judge in the judge's house's portion of the 2015 series.

After One Direction announced a temporary hiatus in August 2015, Walsh stated "It’s not the end...five or six years and they'll get back together. I’ve never seen that connection [to fans] with any other band. Nothing's gone wrong, it’s just they need a break". In November 2015, Walsh claimed to be "sick of" One Direction, stating "I'm so bored of One Direction, honest to god. I've had five years of them - I wish they'd go off in a different direction! I don't care now, I've had enough. I saw them on X Factor recently and they were just going through the motions. If that was Take That or Westlife, they'd really put on a show. They're the luckiest guys in the world".

Walsh's contempt for the group continued into 2016, with the X Factor judge claiming in October: "Simon created monsters and that was it. They all think they’re going to be solo stars. They’re not. Only Harry. That’s it. Then they’ll be sorry they broke up and it’ll be too late because there’s another boy band. That’s what always happens in boy bands." In 2015, Liam Payne wrote a song for Walsh's boy band HomeTown[7].

On December 8 2016, Walsh reacted angrily when asked about Cheryl during an X Factor interview for his band, Five After Mindight. Liam responded to Walsh's comments by tweeting: "Congratulations Louis Walsh for setting the worst example on handling media for his band who are about to step into a very hard industry. Maybe it's about time you realise it's not all about you and shut the f**k up for once, let them speak".[8]

Groups and Performers managed by Walsh

  • Boyzone (1993-2008)
  • Westlife (1998-2012)
  • Samantha Mumba (2000-2002)
  • Ronan Keating (2000-03,08)
  • Bellefire (1999–2004)
  • Six (2001-02)
  • Girls Aloud (2002)
  • G4 (2004-07)
  • Shayne Ward (2005-09)
  • Jedward (2009–13)
  • Wonderland (2010–11)
  • Union J (2013–2015)
  • Shane Filan (2012–present)
  • Myles and Connor (2012–present)
  • Hometown (2013–present)

Awards and Honors

  • 2009 Mayo Person of the Year


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