Zayne Malik of One Direction, dropped out of the band's Southeast Asian tour Mar. 19, citing stress and quit the group today.  (Photo: Getty)

Zayn Malik of One Direction, dropped out of the band’s Southeast Asian tour Mar. 19, citing stress and quit the group today. (Photo: Getty)

Zayn Malik, a founder member of the UK boy band “One Direction,” has left the band amid rumors that he was either asked to leave or kicked out amid tensions over his chronic failure to make appearances.

Malik, 22, abruptly left the band in the middle of its Southeast Asian tour less than a week ago, citing “stress” from the notoriety the band is consonantly bombarding them.

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Bandmates Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Harry Styles were forced–again– to carry on without him.

Malik was also a highly visible no show during a key performance last November during a live on NBC’s “Today” show from Orlando, Fla., to kick off the band’s new album. NBC estimated that 15,000 fans were on hand to hear the debut of the band’s fourth studio album, Four.

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At the time, they blamed his absence on a bout of the flu. “He’s got a tummy bug so he’s not very well,” Payne told “Today’s” Matt Lauer.

Apparently, Malik gave bandmates little or no notice. Payne said they had only found out that morning that he would not be appearing.

The band put a happy face on the announcement today (Mar. 25) on their Facebook page.

“After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction. 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. We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. The past five years have been beyond amazing, we’ve gone through so much together, so we will always be friends. The four of us will now continue. We’re looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour.”

Malik, however, seemed to clearly suggest that the constant pressure from fans and paparazzi, social media and the burdens of touring and recording with the band had taken their toll.

He also released a statement. While upbeat, it hinted at his state of mind:

“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 apologize 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.”

Music mogul Simon Cowell pieced together the band four years ago out of rejects from his UK music talent show “X-Factor.” The timing was right to fill a void left by Justin Bieber who was moving beyond his teen idol years.

The debuted in the United States on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in March 2012 and became a virtual overnight success.

Malik auditioned in Manchester for the seventh series of reality-television competition The X Factor as a 17-year-old in 2010. He was eliminated before the final round of the competition.

Cowell group him with the other band members and the continued to compete as a group and placed third in the competition. Cowell signed them to his Syco Records the same year.

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He’s currently engaged to Perrie Edwards, singer in the band Little Mix; she’s also a former X-Factor contestant. Their relationship was rocked by tabloid reports that he cheated on her, but he hotly denied the allegations.

Still it may have been the last straw for the singer. In the end, a parting of ways seems to be in the best interests of Malik and the band. But at 22, he has plenty of time for a comeback or solo career.

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