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Not so unbreakable after all
Bryan McFadden has left Westlife. Danielle Brigham attended the press conference to find out more…
Danielle Brigham, 25 Mar 2004
The world did not stop turning on March 9 when Bryan McFadden decided to quit his job.
Yes, the black clouds rolled in and the heavens did open, but that was two days later and due to an exceptionally frosty cold snap. By March 11 the Westlife tears had dried and world headlines turned to the real-life tragedy in Madrid. There’s nothing like the horrendous reality of terrorism to contextualise the inane fanfare surrounding a singer leaving a band.
Carefully orchestrated leaks regarding a “major Westlife announcement” had emerged in the days preceding the official press conference. Morning radio shows and Internet message boards were given ample time to speculate on the various earth-shattering outcomes – would Bryan be flying without wings from the coup, possibly towards a disastrous solo career? Worse still – God help us all – would this be an end to Westlfie forever?
The fans held their breath as the Official Westlife Press Conference convened at the Fours Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge. Attended by the world’s media and salivating tabloids of all inclinations, it was only after some hard talking that your very own hotpress – publication of record for all perversions of Irish music – was granted standing space in the room.
Then came the, er, bombshell.
“Westlife today announce that in the tradition of all great groups that they are now a four piece…”
Departing Westlifer Bryan McFadden had this to say: “It’s very, very hard to juggle two lives when you’ve got a family and being in a band like Westlife. To be honest, for the last year, especially since Lily was born, I haven’t really been able to commit 100% to Westlife and I haven’t been able to commit 100% to my family, so I kinda felt it was unfair to both. I felt it was the right time to stand back.”
Fellow band member Kian Egan choked back tears as he read a letter to Brian on behalf of Westlife: “We’ve enjoyed some unbelievable times with you throughout the years and always hold them and you very close to our hearts. We have enjoyed so many times with you on the road, we’ve shared laughter, tears, success, weddings, babies and most of all we’ve shared our dreams. Although we wish that things could be different, we understand and respect your decision.”
The Q&A session began with Bryan under the microscope.
Bryan, has your departure anything to do with the other lads?
Bryan: “We were waiting for that question, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the other four guys. They’re my four best friends in the whole world and we’ve done so much over the last five years. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with the guys. It’s completely got to do with me.”
Bryan, you’re a very talented musician [Adjacent journalist whispering to colleague: “Fuck off!”]. Will you be planning a solo career after leaving Westlife?
“To be honest with you, for now anyway, I just want to concentrate on my family and being at home,” he said.
When did you break the news to other band members?
“We spoke about it, I think, five days ago.”
Has Kerry’s recent success played any part in this decision?
For all the orchestration of the event, the number of newspaper stories that followed the Official Westlife Line were far outnumbered by those claiming “Bryan quits Westlife for solo career in music/TV with/without Kerry”.
And then there was The Sun with its “Westlife At War” story: “The tears and hugs were just a smokescreen to hide a savage civil war that has raged for three years. An insider last night told how Bryan’s romp with a lapdancer started a feud that destroyed Britain’s best-loved boyband…”
Meanwhile, a source close to Westlife told hotpress that recent photographs of the group were taken with Bryan placed on the far right, in an ‘easily croppable’ position.
The band’s manager Louis Walsh insisted it was “business as usual”. In fact if Westlife can keep on doing the sales that they commanded when Bryan was on board, seeing him go will represent a hell of a good day’s work for the rest of the band – with their individual percentage of the group revenues going up substantially. Then again, Take That fell apart inside six months after Robbie Williams left. So, as we await developments, we are left with questions.
Are Kerry and Bryan the next Posh and Becks of Northside Dublin? What will happen to Bryan’s £800,000 share in Westlife’s newly acquired Gulfstream III jet? And will the group sell out those Dublin shows after all?
Let’s just remember, as Louis Walsh says: “There was only four in The Beatles!”