He stormed the charts as a fifth of boyband Westlife in 1998 and later found success as a solo artist, and now Brian McFadden is back performing alongside Boyzone star Keith Duffy in Boyzlife.
But aside from his music career, it was his marriage to then-Atomic Kitten star Kerry Katona that caught the attention of the public. Sadly, while their relationship started off rosy – with the couple welcoming two children, Molly, now 20, and 19-year-old Lilly-Sue – pop’s dream couple weren’t to be, and it all turned sour when the pair split in 2006.
Now 42, Brian tells Closer that he has regrets about not being there as much for his two elder children as they were growing up – especially after welcoming daughter Ruby with his new partner Danielle Parkinson in May last year.
“I was only a kid myself when I had Molly and Lilly, and I was at the height of my career in Westlife then – we were literally working 365 days a year, and there was no FaceTime so I couldn’t speak to the kids, I could only see them when I came home,” he reveals.
“So it was a lot harder and I missed out on a lot of the stuff that I would have loved to have seen with the girls. But with Ruby, I have a lot more time so I can be at home and be a hands-on dad. It’s the only thing I like about modern technology, that I can speak to all my children now whenever I want – which is a luxury we didn’t have in the past.”
Hailing from Dublin in Ireland, Brian’s career with Westlife saw him score 12 number ones as the band became one of the most successful UK groups of all time – just as Kerry, 41, was also enjoying chart success with girlband Atomic Kitten.
Brian quit the band six years after they formed to spend more time with Kerry and the children – but the couple’s relationship broke down months later after Brian admitted in a phone call to his wife that he didn’t love her any more.
They have now found happiness with other people. Brian got engaged to PE teacher Danielle in 2019, and Kerry – who is also mother to Heidi, 15, Maxwell, 14, and Dylan-Jorge, eight, from past relationships – said “yes” a year later when her fitness trainer boyfriend Ryan Mahoney popped the question.
And even more positively, Brian says he and his ex now have a great relationship.
“It’s very easy to co-parent now our children aren’t kids any more,” he explains. “It was obviously a lot more difficult when they were growing up. Kerry and I didn’t have a very good relationship from the day we broke up until now, really, but it’s been a long time. We were only kids when we got together and when we broke up, but we have enough life experience now that we get on with it and there are no problems. There’s no fighting any more.”
Brian adds, “I’ve got a great relationship with Kerry’s other kids, they’re Molly and Lilly’s siblings so they’re part of my family too. Kerry has managed to make it work very, very well and the same to Ryan, he’s been a brilliant father to her two younger children especially.”
Brian says Molly and Lilly are both in line to follow in their parents’ footsteps and get into the world of showbiz.
“Molly has gone to college in London to study musical theatre. She’s an incredible songwriter and she’s got a great voice, but to me, her best attribute is her acting. She’s an incredible actress – she is so funny, her comedic timing is brilliant. She can do whatever she wants,” he says proudly. “Lilly also wants to get into entertainment – I don’t think she’s sure what part of it yet, maybe TV.”
Since first being introduced by friends in 2016, Brian and Danielle have been inseparable. The singer got down on one knee and asked his partner to marry him three years later, during a romantic proposal in a penthouse suite after one of his gigs. Nearly 18 months later, the couple welcomed their daughter – and Brian says they’re hoping to begin trying for another baby later this year.
“Maybe I’ll get a son to go with the three girls – but if not, I’ll have a little girl band with four girls!” he jokes. “Dani and I were going to get married in South Africa last January, but every time we’ve tried to plan the wedding, there seems to be a Covid surge! We’ve moved three [dates] now, so we decided to just wait until the whole world is back to normal. We’re in no rush – nothing’s changed in our lives and we’re more than married because we’ve got a family. The wedding is really going to be a party as we’re not religious. Plus our hands are full with Ruby at the moment anyway, so trying to add a wedding to that would be a nightmare!”
After enjoying a successful solo career since parting ways with Westlife, Brian later teamed up with Boyzone star Keith Duffy to form Boyzlife in 2016. The pair will release their second album, Old School, later this week, and will begin their tour in September. But Brian jokes he’s really noticing his age since he first shot to fame.
“I have a back that’s snapped in half so I can barely exercise. I try to look as good as I can, but I’m never going to have a six-pack or look like I’m in a boyband again, but everybody grows up. At the end of the day, I’m a singer – Pavarotti got away with it for a long time!” he laughs.
“I have no problem with Botox, but I tried it years ago and I didn’t like how it made me look – I prefer having creases in my forehead and it made my face kind of bloated. Whatever makes a person happier, it’s their body and their choice. But it’s definitely not for me, I’d never get it done again.”