Louis Walsh has recalled how he tricked Simon Cowell into accepting Shane Filan in Westlife after the pair disagreed about whether or not he should be in the band.
Walsh, who managed Westlife and Boyzone before appearing on the X Factor and Pop Stars: The Rivals, told Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time Cowell was 'wrong' about Filan and he wanted to keep him in the band.
The group had come to Walsh as a six, who were all friends from the same part of Ireland. Having brought Cowell to Dublin to hear them sing, Walsh hoped they would be signed to his label but Cowell told him four of the boys needed to go.
"I changed three of them," Walsh remembered. "I couldn't change four of them, because they were all friends from Sligo. So I got rid of the three that I thought didn't have it.
And I said: "Shane. He didn't like you. So what we're going to do, we're going to change your look."
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They dyed his hair blonde and went out for more auditions, finding the final two members, Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden.
When Cowell came back to watch them, Walsh remembered him saying 'I'm signing them' just a few minutes into the set.
Walsh remembered "A few weeks later he said to me: 'Where did you find the little blonde guy? He's really great.' I said: 'Simon, that's Shane, who you said no to.'"
He said he told Cowell he'd been wrong about him and the pair laughed about it.
Walsh told Thornton:"He wasn't always right, but he was brilliant to work with. He made everything happen for Westlife."
He also remembered taking the call from Filan's mum, before this time, who was a friend of his own mum from home.
Thornton had remembered Walsh from their time working together, including on X Factor, as someone who was always on the phone and had asked about calls that had changed the course of his career.
He said Filan's mum called him up on a really busy day in the office about Westlife, who originally called themselves IOU.
"I was getting loads of calls from loads of people." he said. "But this woman, she'd call me up. She just caught me, and she sold me this band.
"She told me all about her son Shane. And for some reason, I believed her, you know?"
He remembered her saying Filan danced like Michael Jackson, and when Thornton challenged him on this, Walsh said: "To her [he does]."
"I shouldn't have taken that call," Walsh said to Thornton. "It shouldn't have worked, but it did. And sometimes you take your chance in life. And I took a chance on that."
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