b. 5 August 1954, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, Eire. Pop promoter and manager Walsh rose to fame in the 90s as the guiding force behind the highly successful Irish boy bands, Boyzone and Westlife. In the new millennium he enjoyed further media exposure as a judge on the hit UK reality television shows Popstars: The Rivals and The X Factor.
Growing up in rural Ireland, Walsh promoted his first band at the age of 15 before moving to Dublin and joining the Tommy Hayden Enterprises management firm. After spending several years working with showbands, Walsh’s first big break came in 1979 when he brought Irish singer Johnny Logan to Hayden Enterprises. With Walsh acting as his manager Logan enjoyed a hit-and-miss career, the highlights of which were winning the Eurovision Song Contest on two occasions (1980 and 1987). Walsh left Hayden Enterprises in 1989 to join forces with Carol Hanna at Carol & Associates, managing Linda Martin and Who’s Eddie and promoting a number of UK acts including Bronski Beat and Sonia.
In 1993 Walsh held open auditions for an Irish boy band to compete directly with the UK’s Take That. Through a combination of hard work and Walsh’s media savvy, Boyzone broke into the Irish and UK charts the following year and went on to enjoy huge commercial success until their eventual demise at the end of the decade. By this point Walsh had launched Westlife, and was also overseeing the careers of Boyzone singer Ronan Keating and up-and-coming R&B starlet Samantha Mumba. In September 2001, Walsh appeared as a judge on the Irish version of the reality television show Popstars, but experienced a rare failure as manager of the resultant band Six. Nevertheless, he became a bona fide UK media celebrity the following year when he appeared alongside Pete Waterman and Geri Halliwell as a judge on Popstars: The Rivals. Walsh went on to manage the ‘girl’ winners of the show, Girls Aloud, guiding them to a string of UK hit singles and a surprisingly durable recording career. Walsh reappeared on the UK’s television screens in 2004 as a judge (alongside Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne) on the ITV channel’s talent show, The X Factor.