Westlife, the best-selling Irish boy band, have announced they are to split after 14 years together. The group, who have sold over 44 million albums worldwide, plan to split after a Greatest Hits record this Christmas and farewell tour next year.
In a statement on their website, Kian, Mark, Nicky and lead singer Shane told fans, "Over the years, Westlife has become so much more to us than just a band, we are a family. We would like to thank our fans who have been with us on this amazing journey and are part of our family too". Considered one of the most successful UK boy bands of all time, the group have scored 26 top ten hits, including 14 number one singles, 11 top five albums and 10 sell out tours. They have had more UK No.1's than Abba, Michael Jackson, Madonna and The Rolling Stones - their chart record is eclipsed only by The Beatles and Elvis Presley. A source close to the group denied speculation of a rift, saying, "There's no bad blood in the band, they're still great pals. But all good things come to an end and they are all keen to do their own thing". The final tour will see the band showcase all of their 14 number one hits, including 'Flying without Wings' and 'Swear it Again'.
According to the UK's Sun newspaper, singer Shane Filan is planning to embark on a solo career, while Mark Feehily is also looking to stay in the music business, possibly as a songwriter. Nicky Byrne will make the foray into radio presenting, while Kian Egan is moving into television.