Doncaster's Louis Tomlinson has revealed his frustration at being One Direction's 'kid at the back' as he talks candidly for the first time since the band announced their hiatus.
After questioning his role in the band week after week on the X Factor, the artist also said he found the industry's biggest names were more interested in Harry Styles when it came to going it alone.
Speaking to The Observer, Tomlinson described how, in a further blow, the death of his mother from cancer meant she was no longer around to offer words of encouragement when he questioned his ability.
However, despite suffering personal tragedy and battling against the vagaries of the music industry, the tenacious singer is on the verge of releasing his second single.
Recalling the 2010 ITV competition, his third time on X Factor, Tomlinson revealed he was not given a solo part in any of the band's performances.
He told the newspaper: "A lot of people can take the p**s out of that. But when you actually think about how that feels, standing on stage every single week, thinking: 'What have I really done to contribute here?"
The performer presumed he was known as "the kid wearing espadrilles, stood in't back".
1D's subsequent rise to pop domination is well-documented, clocking up four UK chart-topping singles and eye-watering worldwide record sales under Simon Cowell's watchful gaze.
However, as the band circumnavigated the globe from stadium to stadium, Tomlinson found himself taking on the less glamorous side of stardom.
"If there was any bad news that needed giving to the label I'd always be designated to have the argument," he said.
He also saw post-1D chart success with Just Hold On, a collaboration with US DJ Steve Aoki released in December.
The record reached No2 in the UK but the singer revealed the industry's biggest names are less eager to team up now the heady days of peak 1D are over.
"I couldn't say to you now that I could definitely get a superstar writer in a session with me. And I understand that."
He added: "Harry won't struggle with any of that."
While he may have taken a lesser role on stage, Tomlinson said he did the heavy lifting when it came to dealing with the business side of showbiz.
After setting up his own record label, he considered dedicating himself to it, although decided it would be "conceding" if he hung up his microphone.
His mother, Johannah Deakin, revealed her terminal leukaemia diagnosis during a phone call while he attended the wedding of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy last May.
She died aged 43 in December, days before he and Aoki performed live on the X Factor.
The singer – now a father to son Freddie – said his mother encouraged him to go on with the performance despite her condition.
On Saturday he told his 25 million Twitter followers that he is 'really excited' to release his single, adding later: "Got a good feeling about this one".