Paul Higgins, who worked as One Direction’s tour manager/head of security since 2010, has quit working for the group. According to a Daily Mirror report published on Nov. 22, 2014, one of the main reasons for the split was that Higgins and One Direction’s Zayn Malik were in conflict with each other, although the tabloid did not specify why Higgins and Malik had such a rocky relationship. Higgins apparently quit One Direction on Nov. 19, 2014, when he left the U.S. (where One Direction has been promoting the group’s fourth album, “Four”) to go back to his home in England. Higgins was well-known to One Direction fans, since he was a fixture in a lot of video footage filmed by fans and paparazzi. Higgins was also featured in the 2013 documentary “One Direction: This Is Us.”
One Direction came in third place on “The X Factor” U.K. in 2010, when the group was put together by Simon Cowell and other “X Factor” decision makers. One Direction has since become the world’s biggest-selling act to emerge from “The X Factor.” One Direction’s “Four” album (released on Nov. 17, 2014) debuted at No. 1 in several countries, as have the group’s previous three albums.
Malik was noticeably absent from One Direction’s appearance on NBC’s “Today” in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 17, 2014, when the other members of One Direction (Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson) had to perform without Malik.
“Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer, who conducted a brief interview with One Direction before the group performed, immediately asked why Malik was absent: “‘There’s obviously a lot of concern, a lot of fans have been tweeting overnight. Is it something more serious? There have been rumors of substance abuse. What’s going on?” Payne replied, “No, he’s just got a stomach bug. He’s OK. He’s just at home. He just needs to rest.” The question about substance abuse was no doubt because of a notorious video that surfaced in May 2014 of Malik and Tomlinson smoking what they said on the video was marijuana while they were being driven in a van going to a One Direction concert in Lima, Peru. Tomlinson filmed the video, but it has not been revealed who leaked the video, which was first posted on the Mail Online, the website for British tabloid the Daily Mail.
Lauer’s question about substance abuse was met with a smattering of booing from the crowd of fans (mostly pre-teen and teenage girls) at Universal Orlando’s Universal City Walk. In response to rumors about why he was absent from “Today,” Malik told The Sun: “I’m really angry and upset by what was said on the ‘Today’ show. I was really ill at the weekend. That’s why I couldn’t fly to America.” Malik was back with One Direction for a private concert that One Direction did for fans in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 18, 2014. Malik tweeted that day: “Feels good to be back, thanks for all your support! love you people.”
Malik was well enough on Nov. 15, 2014, to participate with the rest of One Direction in the recording of Band Aid 30’s anniversary remake of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” which will raise money for Ebola victims and their families in Africa. The music video for Band Aid 30’s remake of Band Aid’s 1984 song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” premiered on ITV’s “The X Factor” U.K. on Nov. 16, 2014. The song was recorded in London on Nov. 15, 2014, and was released on Nov. 17, 2014.
The 2014 version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” features One Direction, Bono, Chris Martin, Sinead O’Connor, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Bastille, Elbow, Emeli Sandé, Seal, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Rita Ora, Olly Murs and Queen drummer Roger Taylor. The song debuted at No. 1 in the U.K., just as the original had done in 1984.
Malik (who got engaged to Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards in 2013, after dating her for a year) has often been described as the most “mysterious” member of One Direction, and he is the one most likely to not socialize with the other members of the group in their free time. Many fans predict that either Malik or Styles will be the first member of One Direction to quit the group first.
An unnamed source told the Daily Mirror: “Zayn is fed up with the whole fame thing. He loves singing and his fans but he just wants a quiet life now. He has become increasingly disappointed with the little amount of time he can spend with Perrie. Unfortunately she is in a band too, they have so little time together. Zayn appreciates how lucky he is, but life is about family for him and he is seeing too little of his loved ones.”
Higgins’ departure from One Direction is a sign of serious turmoil behind the scenes, although the group keeps publicly denying that there are any problems. There are also repeated denials that One Direction is disbanding. An unnamed source commented to the Daily Mirror about Higgins: “In many ways he has completely run the show while they’ve been on tour – they even call him Daddy. He became a friend as well as a key part of their management set-up. He’s always been at the heart of the One Direction team, and it’s hard to think of them going on tour without him there.”
The source also told the Daily Mirror that Higgins was particularly close to Horan, since they are both originally from Ireland. All five members of One Direction attended Higgins’ 2012 wedding.
One Direction is set to do a world tour in 2015. Higgins’ replacement has not yet been named. One Direction has not yet commented on Higgins quitting the group. He had previously worked for Boyzone, Westlife and Girls Aloud.