Sixth member of Boyzone now star of Vietnamese Pop Idol

Mark Walton
Mark Walton

IT’S the most cringeworthy showbiz clip in Irish TV history and could have been the kiss of death for Ireland’s first boyband.

Instead, Boyzone went from that first dodgy outing on The Late Late Show to conquer the music world.

But not before ditching one of the original members who strutted his stuff for Gaybo.

And the story of how the boyband took over the charts pales next to the extraordinary career of that ‘sixth band member’.

Dubliner Mark Walton’s dreams of stardom were dashed when Louis Walsh turfed him out of the group shortly after they were formed, but today the 40-year-old is Vietnam’s answer to Louis!

He is one of four members on the panel of Vietnam Pop Idol.

And Mark is mobbed on the streets of big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) in the south east Asian country, which is home to 90 million people.

Mark’s whirlwind life in the music industry has largely gone unnoticed here, but in a remarkable career which started out with Boyzone at the age of 18 he now lives in L.A. and has worked with everyone from Lady Gaga to Rihanna.

As well as hanging out with the likes of Enrique Iglesias and Shaggy, Mark also found time to be the manager of British boyband Blue.

Mark with Shaggy

 “In relation to Boyzone I have always been a big believer in everything happening for a reason,” recalls Mark, who took part in Boyzone’s famous, shambolic debut Late Late Show appearance in November 1993.

“At the time it was a bit disappointing, but at the same time I was always very happy to see our fellow Irish brothers breaking it internationally.

“Plus I got to see my idea and vision come to life, as I always knew it would, so I am very proud to have co-created the first Irish boyband at the age of 18.”

After that Mark ended up getting a record and publishing deal with Warner Music Europe with his band Fifth Avenue.

Mark (left) and Beverly (right)

“We toured Europe and enjoyed gold selling records in Europe,” he reminisces.

“We used to tour with Brit award winners Blue in Europe at big festivals, so it was amazing to end up becoming their manager years later, where we toured a lot of the world together.”

He now works as a music manager and producer in L.A.

“I also had the pleasure to be CEO of top songwriter Wayne Hector’s label for years. Through all of this I learned so much about the business that has helped me reach the level I’m working at now,” he says.

One of the acts Mark manages is singer Thanh Bui, who was raised in Australia and is of Vietnamese heritage.

“He is now the biggest artist in Vietnam after less than one year working with him,” says Mark.

“When I met him he had 2,000 followers, now he has almost three million flowers and building very fast and he has started to have hits in other Asian countries.

“I have also brought Wayne Hector, RedOne [a hit Moroccan-Swedish songwriter and producer] and Black Eyed Peas member apl.de.ap to Asia for big projects.

“Plus Richard Branson recently flew there to see my business partners. I’m currently working on bringing Ronaldo back over to Asia.

“I’m working with RedOne in Los Angeles and travel the world with him working with artists.

“RedOne is currently working with Lady Gaga on her new album, as well as with Enrique Iglesias, Linkin Park, Rock City, Bonnie McKee, Britney Spears, Rihanna , and J Lo, plus we are working with the next wave of fresh talented superstars being launched next year by Warner, Sony and Universal globally.”

Mark, who hails from Donaghmede on Dublin’s northside, announces: “I really want to break an Irish artist globally so I’m currently looking for him or her.

“Maybe I will do an Irish music TV show to find them.”

Mark got approached to be a judge on Vietnam’s Pop Idol because he manages Thanh Bui.

“I admit I do get mobbed on the streets there and I also predicted who would win the competition when I saw the line-up,” he says.

But while he’s had mammoth success, there is also a tinge of sadness in his career.

Back in 2009 his fellow Fifth Avenue bandmate Beverley O’Sullivan was killed in a car crash in India while on holiday with her boyfriend.

“I actually found about her death on Sky news in Dublin Airport, as I had just landed and it was on all the TVs in Airport,” he remembers.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. I have only beautiful and amazing memories of Beverly. I was blessed to have travelled the world with her and to have had her as a best friend in my life.”

Today Mark is meeting new and inspiring friends and even giving his first manager Louis Walsh a run for his money!