Belfast Telegraph

Zayn Malik fans' heartache: What do you do when your pop idol waves goodbye?

From The Beatles to Boyzone, bands splitting up have left teenage fans grief-stricken. As Zayn Malik leaves 1D, three Belfast Telegraph writers reveal how they coped when their own heroes called it quits.

The news that Zayn Malik has quit One Direction has prompted outpourings of heart-break and hysteria from millions of young fans around the globe.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the 22-year-old said he felt that now was the right time to leave the world's biggest boy band, plunging Directioners everywhere into depression.

"I'd like to apologise to the fans if I've let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right," he said, as he walked away from the band.

The writing was on the wall last week when Malik quit the world tour after being signed off on stress. One Direction will now continue as a four-piece, while Malik plans to concentrate on his personal life for a while.

Distraught fans have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness at Malik's leaving, with many imploring him to think again or, more worryingly, threatening to self-harm.

Of course it's not the first time the departure of a band member or the break-up of a pop group has caused such devastation. From The Beatles to The Backstreet Boys, the demise of a much-loved artist or act has seen hordes of hormonal teenage girls sobbing into their pillows. Three writers tell us about the day the music died for them.

'The split was a bitter pill'

It's easy to scoff at the hysterical reaction of fans to the news that Zayn Malik is quitting One Direction.While a video of one local schoolgirl sobbing uncontrollably at the bombshell has gone viral, millions of young Directioners around the world have been plunged into mourning, with many comparing his departure to a death. Hilarious stuff.

I might be laughing now, but I do recall crying into my Cornflakes the day the news leaked that The Jam were splitting up. Yes, you read it right, The Jam.

So they weren't exactly pin-up material like Westlife, or the type of group to provoke public outpourings of grief a la Take That, but they were my musical idols back in 1982 and I was in love with Paul Weller, the angry young man who fronted the trio.

Looking back, the signs of Weller's disenchantment with the band were there for all to see.

The last handful of singles had seen a shift from hard-edged mod anthems to horn-driven funky grooves.

In the video for The Jam's penultimate single, the sharp suits Weller favoured had been replaced by a trendy trench coat, complete with collar up. Oh, the horror.

For a 13-year-old mod girl, obsessed with the scene, it was a betrayal too far.

The change in musical direction I could just about get my head round, but that New Romantic-style trench coat was like a knife through my heart.

When that single was released in September 1982, Weller had already broken the news of the break-up to his bandmates Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, who were both devastated.

The track was called The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow). The irony!

The accompanying video was all misty and moody, with a jilted Weller doing his best Miss Havisham impression, grieving a lost love against a backdrop of a wedding cake covered in cobwebs.

When the band finally confirmed they were breaking up in December that year, I was heart-broken.

Their last single, Beat Surrender, went straight to number one as the band bowed out to make way for Weller's new act, The Style Council.

But it was The Bitterest Pill I returned to, time and time again, to replay my heartache, slowly picking at the Weller wound that refused to heal.

I sat alone in my bedroom, crying at the lyrics "The love I gave hangs in sad coloured mocking shadows." Weller was cruelly taunting me with his words. But my heartbreak didn't last too long.

A few months later I found myself a boyfriend who wore sharp suits and I was able to welcome Weller back into my life again. I've always been fickle like that.

In recent years, I've been fortunate enough to meet my hero several times.

And yes, I told him how the break-up of The Jam plunged me into misery, well, for a few weeks at least.

After his Belsonic show several years ago, I was even invited into his trailer to join him for a beer.

It was one of those pinch-me-is-this really-happening moments, as I sat opposite him, our knees touching, talking about everything from our dads to my hair. And do you know what? I'm still slightly in love with him after all these years - and that dodgy trench coat.

  • Maureen Coleman is a freelance journalist

'We were Robbie's loyal fans and he betrayed us'

The year was 1995 and a bleached-haired, bloodshot-eyed Robbie Williams was papped partying with Oasis at Glastonbury. Take That offered him an ultimatum: adhere to the band's responsibilities or leave. He chose the latter - and a million hearts were broken, including mine.

I was a shy 10-year-old girl and Robbie was the bad boy of pop, refusing to play by the rules of a clean-cut boy band. The cheeky chappie from Stoke-on-Trent had won over every girl in my school year with his mischievous smile and joke-a-minute personality.

But overnight posters were torn down from bedroom walls and a post-mortem was held in the school playground. How could he do this to us? We were his loyal fans and he had betrayed us.

As One Direction fans go through the same experience, it's hard not to compare Zayn and Robbie - aged 22 and 21 when the respective pop stars went their own way. Zayn has cited stress as the main reason for quitting - and stepping away from a manic lifestyle he can no longer cope with seems a sensible decision.

However, Robbie was the Harry Styles of his day. Gary Barlow could write a million love songs, but Robbie's good looks and star personality always stole the limelight.

He thought - or arguably knew - he was bigger than the band.

Both a four-piece Take That and the solo Robbie Williams went on to huge success.

But standing among hordes of women in July 2011, I watched Williams enter Wembley once more to join Gary, Mark, Jason and Howard. Clad in black, Robbie was winched onto the stage like a bat out of hell. And with just a few notes of Let Me Entertain You, he switched the atmosphere in the arena from jovial to electric.

Life goes on for Take That without him. But it was the reunion of the decade that brought the real magic back.

  • Claire Cromie is deputy digital editor of the Belfast Telegraph

'There were lots of tears'

Ironically I was on a bus on my way to Disneyland in Paris - dubbed the happiest place on earth - when I received an earth-shattering text from a journalist friend of mine. It read: "Westlife are splitting up."

Gobsmacked, my jaw-dropped and I texted my mum back in Derry to ask her had there been anything about the rumoured break-up on the news.

She replied that she'd heard nothing.

So when we arrived at our hotel I frantically turned on Sky News and there it was to my horror - the greatest boyband in the world were no more.

I'd been a fan from early on. While outwardly I liked my Britpop, inside I was hiding a dark secret - I was being seduced by Brian, Kian, Nicky, Mark and Shane, the pretty boys in suits who sung catchy songs and rose from sitting on stools with every key change in a tune.

It helped that they were from "over the border" - somehow they felt more accessible.

It helped that they seemed to have a Las Vegas-style residence at the Odyssey arena every few months, too.

My husband was delighted as it meant he knew exactly what to buy me for Christmas/birthdays/wedding anniversaries/Valentine's Day - a ticket to see Westlife was a fail-safe and much appreciated present. DVDs and CDs were also bought by him on my behalf and, to his credit, he also got me a prized Westlife mug at a concert from a smirking saleswoman, impressed by his obvious love for a Westlife obsessed girl like myself. I went to see Westlife 13 times and I can honestly say I enjoyed every single nano-second of their concerts.

As for my long-suffering husband, he gamely accompanied me to a handful of concerts where he stood arms folded in wonderment at the screaming masses. He's also never let me forget about the shrieking female beside him at one concert who almost pierced his eardrums - he likened the noise at a Westlife gig to an aeroplane taking off. I genuinely had a knot in my stomach when the final tour dates were announced and I went to see them twice in Belfast. I also had the very bizarre experience of seeing their final concert at Croke Park streamed live into the cinema at the Odyssey arena - their spiritual home. There were plenty of tears from us ladies as the final curtain fell on Westlife. In fact, I met a group of girls who invited my friend and I to a "wake for Westlife" as they intended to ask their parish priest to say a month's mind Mass for the band's demise. To quote a line from their hit song What Makes a Man, "this isn't goodbye". I know Westlife will make a comeback someday and I will be there with a ticket bought again by my husband (I hope).

  • Jennifer Maloney is a freelance journalist

Leaving a trail of broken hearts ...

Other bands which have caused teen mayhem throughout their careers include ...

The Beatles - widely considered to be the first boy band to provoke mass hysteria, so much so that it was dubbed Beatlemania. John Lennon split the band when he announced his departure on September 20, 1969, prompting millions of distraught fans

New Kids on the Block - the Boston boys, who sold more than 80m records worldwide, had an army of devoted fans, many of whom still follow them today. The group broke up in 1994, but got back together and are still touring

Backstreet Boys - the best-selling boy band in history, having shifted over 130m records across the globe. At the height of Backstreet mania, the band members would return to their hotel rooms or tour buses to find fans hidden under their beds and in their wardrobes

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