Westlife were formed in July 1998, with the members Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, Nicky Byrne, and Brian McFadden. The group originally contained seven members, Dickie Rock's son Alan Davidson and Sean O'Riordan from Cork, who had become good friends with Kian Egan after they met in University.
The group was deemed to large and subsequently cut down to five, Davidson and O'Riordan leaving the line-up.
The group's roots can be found in Sligo Town where Egan, Feehily, and Filan were in a six-member vocal group named IOU, with fellow Sligonians, Derrick Lacey, Graham Keighron and Michael "Miggles" Garrett.
IOYOU were groomed and managed by choreographer Mary McDonagh and two other informal managers and released a single called "Together Girl Forever".
The band was then 'discovered' by Louis Walsh, the manager of 1990s boy band Boyzone - he was actually contacted by Filan's mother. However IOU did not meet Simon Cowell's approval for a record deal with BMG, so changes were needed. Two members of IOU were given the sack, and auditions were held in Dublin.
The band recruited Byrne and McFadden. A third original member, Michael Garrett, was dropped. The group was re-named Westside soon afterwards, but as the name was already taken by another band, it was changed to Westlife. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating was brought in to co-manage the band with Louis Walsh.
Nicky Byrne was born on 9th October 1978 at Holles Street Hospital in Dublin he is a Libra stands 5 foot 10 inches tall and married his childhood sweetheart in July 2003: Georgina Ahern, daughter of the Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. Georgina gave birth to twin sons Rocco Bertie and Jay Nicky on April 20, 2007.
Kian Egan was born on 29th April 1980 at Sligo General Hospital, he is a Taurus, stands 5 foot 10 inches tall and is married to ex Girl Thing member Jodi Albert.
Shane Filan was born on 5th July 1979 at Sligo General Hospital he is a Cancer stands 5 foot 9 inches tall and married Gillian Walsh, Kian Egan's cousin, on 28th December 2003, and he became a father in 2005, when Gillian gave birth to Nicole, the first of three children.
Mark Feehily was born on 28th May 1981 at Sligo General Hospital he is a Gemini stands 5 foot 10 inches tall and he publicly announced he is gay in the UK tabloid The Sun, on 19 August 2005. He also noted his long-term relationship with Kevin McDaid (From defunct boy band "V"). Feehily later told Gay.com UK, "I am gay, and I'm very proud of who I am."
Feehily later told the Sydney Morning Herald that despite the fact that the majority of Westlife's fans are female, that there had really been no negative reaction to his revelation. "I am so much happier now and I think our fans can see that," he said. "Through the years of getting to the point where I wanted to come out, I had to go through every kind of emotion, but I can honestly say that the day before I came out, I didn't care what the reaction was going to be. That was the hardest point to get to."
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