He’s come a long way from his X Factor days! Liam Payne‘s journey from One Direction member to solo star — and budding actor — is wild. Fans have seriously watched the “Strip That Down” singer grow up right before their eyes.
Before joining Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik in the famed boyband, Liam grew up in Wolverhampton, England, and knew at a young age that he was born for stardom. The British musician famously auditioned for the X Factor in 2008, but didn’t make it far in the competition. When he returned in 2010, Liam’s One Direction days officially began.
Throughout their time together, One Direction released four albums as a five-member group — Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories and Four. Following Zayn’s March 2015 departure from the band, the remaining four members dropped one last record — Made in the A.M. — before they announced their indefinite hiatus in December of that same year.
“It was a little bit dark and twisted towards the end of it, but the last few shows were really beautiful moments because the pressure cooker had been let off,” Liam, for his part, recalled to The Guardian in December 2019 about the end of One Direction. “It was almost like counting down to holiday — we were going to wake up that Monday morning with no schedule.”
Of course, he continued to make music following his One Direction days. The “Sunshine” singer released his First Time EP in August 2018 and debut album, LP1, in December 2019. Amid his fame and solo music releases, Liam and ex-girlfriend Cheryl Cole welcomed their son, Bear, in March 2017. The former couple announced their split in June 2018, but has mastered the art of coparenting.
“Cheryl is literally the best person to coparent with. No stress involved. It’s very, very relaxed, and we spend a lot of time on FaceTime,” Liam told Glamour U.K. in April 2021. “It’s been really lovely, and I’m closer to them than I’ve ever been before, actually, which is really, really nice.”
As fans know, Liam has also been the most vocal about his One Direction past.
“I came out the band … and said, ‘I’ll only [go solo] if the right song comes along, otherwise I’m not bothering.’ I don’t wanna tarnish the legacy I have already,” he shared on the “Impaulsive” podcast in May 2022. “It’s been a great journey. I don’t even know if I wanted to be a solo artist, I just did it because it was there to do.”
Scroll through our gallery to see Liam’s transformation over the years.
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