Louis Walsh

For other people named Louis Walsh, see Louis Walsh (disambiguation).
Louis Walsh

Walsh in 2009
Born Michael Louis Vincent Walsh
(1952-08-05) 5 August 1952
Kiltimagh, Mayo, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Occupation Entertainment manager,
Television personality,
Talent show judge
Years active 1967–present
Employer Syco / ITV
Known for
Television Irish Popstars
Popstars: The Rivals
You're a Star
The X Factor
Ireland's Got Talent

Michael Louis Vincent Walsh[1] (born 5 August 1952)[2] known as Louis Walsh is an Irish entertainment manager and judge on British television talent show The X Factor.

Originally from Kiltimagh, County Mayo, Walsh moved to Dublin to get a start in the music industry.[3] He managed Johnny Logan, Boyzone and Westlife, three of Ireland's most successful pop artists in recent decades. In later life, Walsh began an alternative career as a television talent pundit and personality.

He has been a judge on The X Factor since the show's inception in 2004 (with the exception of 2015, when he left the show only to return in 2016).[4] He has mentored the "Groups" category six times and the "Overs" category three times.[5] He was the winning judge of the show's second series, mentoring Shayne Ward. He has also appeared on You're a Star, Popstars and Popstars: The Rivals. Walsh has also guest judged on Britain's Got Talent a number of times and on The X Factor USA in 2012.

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.[6]

Television career

Walsh's first television work was in 2001, in the Irish version of Popstars. The following year Walsh appeared as a judge on the UK ITV show Popstars: The Rivals with Pete Waterman and Geri Halliwell. Walsh went head-to-head with Waterman on the show with his girlband Girls Aloud battling it out with Waterman's boy band One True Voice. Girls Aloud's debut single "Sound of the Underground" reached number one in the UK. Walsh managed the band to achieve a million singles sales while their debut album went platinum.

Walsh also frequently appears on various talent shows on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), the most recent being You're a Star. He covered for Simon Cowell as a judge on Britain's Got Talent during series four's Birmingham auditions on 3 and 4 February 2010 due to Cowell being ill. He again filled in for David Hasselhoff at the London auditions in the following series when Hasselhoff was unavailable due to appearing in pantomime. Walsh also appeared on The X Factor USA series two auditions in Kansas City covering for Simon Cowell.

In January 2012, Walsh appeared on the ITV documentary series The Talent Show Story where he was interviewed about being a judge on The X Factor and Popstars The Rivals. Fellow Popstars judge Pete Waterman also appeared on the programme as well as past and present X Factor judges, including Dannii Minogue, Simon Cowell, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow.

The X Factor

See also: The X Factor

Walsh appeared from 2004 as a judge, along with Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne on ITV talent show,[7] The X Factor. In 2004, Walsh found chart success with G4, who went on to have a chart topping album and completed two tours of the UK. In 2005 Walsh managed the winner Shayne Ward, whose debut single "That's My Goal" spent four weeks at UK number one.

In November 2005, Walsh quit the show mid-series out of protest regarding his treatment on the show; the most explicit example being Osbourne's drenching him with water during a live recording.[8] Walsh returned on the Saturday evening's live show, stating that he could not abandon his remaining competitor and eventual winner, Shayne Ward. Ward went on to win the competition with over 10 million votes in the final. Walsh then went on to win The X Factor: Battle of the Stars with actress Lucy Benjamin.

ITV announced in March 2007 that Walsh would not return as a judge on The X Factor, but would remain behind the scenes managing some acts from the show.[9] According to UK tabloid newspaper The Sun, the decision to be replaced with two other judges came as a shock to him. He was replaced on the panel by American choreographer Brian Friedman. Osbourne, Cowell, Friedman and new judge Dannii Minogue appeared at the London auditions; however, after the first few days, Cowell decided to re-hire Walsh to the panel. On 22 June 2007, Walsh confirmed he would be returning as a judge for the fourth series of The X Factor. Friedman then became the show's creative director. Walsh mentored the Over 25s category in series four. In the 'Judges Houses' stage of the competition, Walsh took his acts to Dublin and invited guest Kian Egan to help him decide who to take through to the live shows.

Cowell reportedly told Walsh off for his comments about the Spice Girls. Walsh had said that the girl group were "past their sell-by date" and lacking in talent, but Cowell already had plans to book the girls on the show.[10]

In 2008, Walsh returned for the fifth series along with Cowell, Minogue and Cheryl Cole, who was hired after Osbourne quit the previous June. In this series, Walsh mentored the groups, choosing JLS, Girlband and Bad Lashes to represent him in the live shows. Walsh took his acts to Castle Leslie in Ireland during the judges houses stage where he was aided by Westlife star Shane Filan. Bad Lashes and Girlband were the first two acts to be eliminated over the first two weeks, but JLS finished as runners-up.

Walsh returned to the sixth series show in 2009, again mentoring the groups for the fourth time in six years. During the judges houses stage, the Groups and Walsh flew to Lake Como in Italy where Boyzone singer Ronan Keating helped Walsh pick his final three. Walsh took Kandy Rain, Miss Frank and John & Edward to the live shows. Kandy Rain were eliminated in the first live results show, from which Walsh was absent due to the sudden death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately. Walsh was absent again on the Saturday and Sunday of the second week of live shows due to Gately's funeral on 17 October. During these weeks, Minogue, Cowell and Cole appeared as a panel of only three judges. In week three, Miss Frank were eliminated from the competition, while John & Edward were eliminated in week seven, though went on to have successful careers in the industry.

In 2010, Walsh returned to the The X Factor along with Cole and Cowell, and Minogue who returned during the live shows. Nicole Scherzinger, Geri Halliwell, Katy Perry, Pixie Lott and Natalie Imbruglia all appeared as guest judges alongside Walsh and Cowell during the auditions in place of Minogue and in some cases Cole. Walsh mentored the Over 28s category on the seventh series of The X Factor. In the judges houses stage, Walsh took his acts to Adare in Ireland. Walsh was helped by former judge Osbourne. His last surviving act, Mary Byrne, was eliminated in the semi-final on 5 December 2010.[11]

Walsh returned to the show in 2011 for series eight. He joined new panellists Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa, who replaced former judges Cowell, Minogue and Cole, all of whom left the show after series seven. This meant that, following Cowell's departure, Walsh became the only original judge left on the programme. During the Bootcamp stages it was announced that he would mentor the Over 25s category for the rest of the competition. In the Judges Houses stage, Walsh took his acts to Barcelona in Spain where he was aided by Cowell's former aid Sinitta. His most successful act of the competition was Kitty Brucknell who made it to week six of the live shows before she was eliminated. Walsh chose Brucknell, Sami Brookes, Johnny Robinson and Jonjo Kerr to go through to the live shows.

During the live shows of series eight, in an interview with former judge Minogue, Walsh stated that he "didn't know" whether he would return as a judge in 2012. However, on 3 May 2012, Walsh confirmed he would return for his ninth series alongside Tulisa and Barlow. Walsh, Barlow and Contostavlos were joined by a series of guest judges at the auditions due to show's producers not being able to sign a replacement judge for Rowland in time after she left the show after one series. Walsh's former colleague on Popstars The Rivals, Geri Halliwell joined the judges in Liverpool, former American X Factor judge Scherzinger and singers Leona Lewis and Rita Ora joined the panel in London respectively. Australian X Factor judge Mel B appeared at the Manchester auditions. Scherzinger joined Walsh and fellow judges Contostavlos and Barlow as the new full-time judge for ninth series.

Walsh substituted for Cowell at the Kansas City auditions for season two of the American version while Cowell was recovering from bronchitis. He joined the other season two judges: L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, and was introduced with the line, "When Simon needs an opinion from someone he trusts, I'm the man he calls".[12] His episode broke ratings records for the series.[13]

Walsh returned to the judging panel of The X Factor for its tenth series alongside Barlow, Scherzinger and fellow original judge Osbourne, who replaced Tulisa. He mentored the Boys category, which consisted of Nicholas McDonald, Luke Friend and Sam Callahan. McDonald finished in second place to Sam Bailey, mentored by Osbourne.

In 2014, Walsh returned for the eleventh series, while Osbourne, Barlow and Scherzinger were replaced by former judges Cowell and Cole, and new judge Mel B.

In 2015, Walsh stated that he was considering not returning to the twelfth series of The X Factor, citing his desire to return to full-time music management.[14] After rumours circulated that he had been fired from the show,[15] Walsh announced his decision to quit the show, stating that he had not been fired, but he was not "hanging around for them this year."[16]

In 2016 Walsh returned as a judge for the thirteenth series, alongside Cowell, Osbourne and Scherzinger.[5]

Other TV appearances

Walsh has made multiple appearances on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway since 2004 and has appeared as a guest panellist on 8 Out of 10 Cats and Celebrity Juice.

In 2009, Walsh appeared on the ITV show Anonymous hosted by Stephen Mulhern.

In July 2011, he raced the "Reasonably Priced Car", a Kia Cee'd, during series 17 of Top Gear.[17] He appeared in an episode of Mad Mad World.

On 14 September 2013, Walsh's house featured in an episode of Through the Keyhole, and on 26 December 2014 he featured on the show again – this time as a celebrity pannelist.

On 1 September 2014, Walsh appeared on an episode of Who's Doing the Dishes?.[18]

In January 2016, ITV announced that Walsh would appear in Drive, a new show which pits eight celebrities against each other in a series of races in different vehicles. Hosted by Vernon Kay, the show began airing on 5 April 2016.[19]

List of groups and performers managed by Walsh

Act Duration Note(s)
Boyzone 1993–2008
Westlife 1998–2012
Samantha Mumba 2000–02
Ronan Keating 2000–03
Bellefire 1999–2004
Six 2001–02
Girls Aloud 2002
G4 2004–07
Shayne Ward 2005–09
Jedward 2009–13 [20][21]
Wonderland 2010–11
Union J 2013–2015
Shane Filan 2012–present
Myles and Connor
Hometown 2013–present


Ronan Keating

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 and then had a bitter falling out.[22][23] Walsh told the press: "[Keating] wasn't the most talented one – he's not a great singer and he's got no personality."[24] Keating later told Closer magazine: "That man absolutely tried to ruin me and if he thinks we can ever hug and make up he can forget it. I haven't heard from him in three years and I wouldn't have a problem if I never saw him again. He's not a nice character."[25]

The feud between the two men had apparently ended by March 2008[26] and they helped select the finalists in the Groups category in The X Factor.[27]

Louis Walsh v News Group Newspapers

Walsh sought access to documents which allegedly show The Sun tabloid paid €700 to a man who made a false sexual assault accusation against Walsh. The man was later sentenced to imprisonment for the false accusation.[28] The senior counsel for Walsh told the High Court on 14 May 2012: "The Sun directed the operation to take out Louis Walsh as a public person."[29] On 10 August 2012, the High Court ordered The Sun to give all documents and information to Walsh relating to the preparation of an article in The Sun: "Louis Probed Over 'Sex Attack' on Man in Loo". The article was published both in The Sun and their website on 23 June 2011. Walsh sued for defamation of character resulting from the false and malicious allegations and the case was settled out of court.[30][31]

Walsh also took legal action against The Sun in the courts of Ireland, where it is also published and on 28 November 2012 was awarded damages of €500,000 and €180,000 costs.[32]

Despite winning the legal case, the false accusations had a "lasting effect" on Walsh, who was as of 2015, suffering from paranoid thoughts and panic attacks as a result of the ordeal.[33]

Awards and honours


  1. "Biography – Louis Walsh". thebiographychannel.co.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Louis Walsh is Mayo Person of the Year". Mayonews.ie. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  3. Adams, Tim (30 November 2002). "The cynical Svengali". The Observer. London. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  4. "Louis Walsh Biography, Picture Gallery & Video". heatworld.com. 5 August 1952. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  5. 1 2 "The wait is over... The X Factor 2016 Judging panel revealed". www.itv.com. Retrieved 2016-06-02.
  6. Carroll, Grace (7 December 2012). "Louis Walsh said to have signed Union J to a new management deal". Gigwise. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  7. "Furious Walsh walks out on X Factor". Mail Online. 23 November 2005.
  8. X Factor Hurls Water on Louis Walsh Archived 11 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine. TV.Netscape.com; Retrieved 3 October 2011 Archived 11 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. "Walsh to step down from X Factor". BBC News. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  10. Simon scolds Louis Parkmag
  11. "It's a rap: Cher Lloyd makes X Factor finals by the skin of her teeth". STV. 5 December 2010. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  12. Brady, Buzz (21 September 2012). "'Who the hell is Louis?' Walsh stands in for Simon Cowell on US "X Factor" – VIDEO: Irish music mogul steps in for Cowell during Kansas auditions". Irish Central. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  13. Butler, Laura (21 September 2012). "Louis Walsh makes splash across pond as his X Factor USA episode is ratings winner". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
  14. Hegarty, Tasha (11 April 2015). "Louis Walsh threatens to quit The X Factor: "I'm done with it"". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  15. Flint, Hanna (10 May 2015). "Louis Walsh 'sacked' from The X Factor after 11 years". Metro. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  16. The Entertainment Network (14 May 2015). "Louis Walsh confirms X Factor exit". RTE Ten. Ireland: Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  17. "To Gear". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  18. "Who's Doing the Dishes?" ITV.
  19. "Top Gear relaunch faces potential clash with new ITV motoring show rival". The Guardian. 14 January 2016.
  20. "Walsh signs X Factor duo John and Edward". BBC News.
  21. "X Factor 2013: Jedward have ditched Louis Walsh & appointed their MUM as their manager!". Unreality TV. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  22. "RTÉ.ie Entertainment: Keating talks about feud with Walsh". RTÉ. 29 May 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  23. "Ronan's Feud With Louis Walsh – Sky Showbiz". Sky Showbiz. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  24. "Biography – Louis Walsh on Bio". Thebiographychannel.co.uk. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  25. Star Trip: Ronan Keating: "Louis Walsh tried to ruin me!" Archived 26 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. "Boyzone – Keating Ends Walsh Feud – Contactmusic News". Contact Music. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  27. "Louis Walsh 2009 X Factor Judges House: Louis House In Italy". Thetalentzone.co.uk. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  28. "Jail term for false Walsh claims". BBC News. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  29. Healy, Tim (14 May 2012). "X-Factor judge Louis Walsh wants access to Sun documents on false assault accusation". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  30. "Louis Walsh entitled to Sun newspaper's documents on false allegations – court". RTÉ News. RTÉ. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  31. "X Factor judge Louis Walsh settles 500,000 euro defamation case". BBC News. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  32. O'Carroll, Lisa (28 November 2012). "Louis Walsh receives €500,000 damages from the Sun". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  33. Louis Walsh still suffers panic attacks from false sex assault allegation. 2015

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