LONDON – That sound you just heard was the crash of hearts breaking all over the world.
Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction.
“After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction,” the band said on its Facebook page and tweeted out to its 22.9 million Twitter followers.
“Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.”
Malik explained why on Facebook.
“My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologise [sic] to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”
Rumors about such a move had started since Malik left the band’s tour last week.
At the time, a rep told Rolling Stone he had “been signed off with stress” after a scandal erupted following the publication of a photo showing Malik holding hands with someone other than his fiancee.
Twitter immediately responded with a mix of sadness and snark.
The band’s Wikipedia page was also quickly updated with a sentence, “Zayn Malik was formerly a member.”
Malik, 22, has been part of the very popular British boy band since it was formed (at the urging of Simon Cowell, according to some stories) in 2010 after members auditioned separately for the UK version of “The X Factor.”
The group has put out four albums, and its hits include “Best Song Ever” and “Story of My Life.”
The group’s latest album, “Four,” came out in November.
By: Todd Leopold for CNN