Debuting his first solo single since announcing a hiatus from his band One Direction should have been a joyous occasion for Louis Tomlinson, but instead the singer fought back tears during this weekend’s performance on X Factor. Tomlinson’s mother Johannah Deakin, passed away after a long battle with leukemia on Wednesday at age 43, leaving behind Tomlinson and his six siblings, including Lottie, 18, Felicite, 16, twins Daisy and Phoebe, both 12, and two-year old twins Ernest and Doris.
Tomlinson was already scheduled to perform his new single “Just Hold On” along with Steve Aoki during Saturday’s X Factor episode, marking a return to the stage where he met his fellow One Direction band mates in 2010. In what he understandably labeled on Twitter as ‘harder than I ever imagined,’ Tomlinson honoured his mother’s wish to perform during the reality show.
That was harder than I ever imagined. I want to thank everyone around me and all of the amazing fans out there that made that so special!
— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) December 11, 2016
Tomlinson showed incredible courage and resilience, making it through the high-energy performance as well as the emotional condolences from former manager Simon Cowell.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Tomlinson’s One Direction band mates Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Niall Horan were backstage during the show, with Zayn Malik tweeting his support to Tomlinson and contacting the singer privately.
Following Saturday’s performance, Tomlinson and Aoki’s “Just Hold On” hit number one on iTunes.
Tomlinson is the latest member of One Direction to release solo material, following Malik’s 2016 debut album Mind of Mine and Horan’s recent single, “This Town.” Payne is expected to release new music in 2017, while Styles spent much of the year filming Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.