Stephen Gately: Singer with Boyzone and solo star who 'came out'

With cloying, sentimental ballads like "All That I Need", "You Needed Me" and "Everyday I Love You", revivals of past pop classics such as the Osmonds' "Love Me For a Reason", Cat Stevens' "Father And Son", and the Bee Gees' "Words", and albums aimed at mums and teenage girls and released with the marketing muscle to match, the Irish group Boyzone dominated the British charts throughout the second half of the Nineties. Indeed, they ran close seconds to Take That, their nearest rivals and arguably the blueprint for their success.

Stephen Gately sang lead on "No Matter What", the fourth of Boyzone's six British No 1 singles, and seconded main vocalist Ronan Keating more convincingly than fellow members Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch on their four chart-topping albums – Said and Done, A Different Beat, Where We Belong and the By Request collection.

Gately was the group's undisputed pin-up and, for many people, its sole redeeming feature. However, he also hid his homosexuality for the first five years of the group's career. "It was so stressful," he told The Independent in 2001. "You had to think of completely hiding your sexuality. All those questions that you had to dodge. 'Who's your favourite girl?', 'Which girls do you fancy?'– So I can't express what a weight it was off my shoulders," he said of his eventual "outing" by The Sun in 1999.

Boyzone had been assembled by Louis Walsh, the Irish svengali and current X Factor judge, and Gately exemplified the way former members of such manufactured acts can go on to careers as all-round entertainers. After Keating went solo with "When You Say Nothing At All", the ghastly theme song from Richard Curtis' Notting Hill movie, in 1999, Gately scored three hit singles of his own the following year, including "I Believe", from the soundtrack of the Stephen Daldry film Billy Elliot, and a cover of "Bright Eyes", the Art Garfunkel hit composed by Mike Batt, revived for a new TV adaptation of the Richard Adams novel Watership Down. But Gately fell victim to the vagaries of the teen market and was dropped by his record company Polydor after his only album, New Beginning, spent just a month in the charts, while Keating's debut Ronan stayed on the listings for over a year.

Undaunted, the proactive Gately took the lead role in a new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and earned rave reviews for his stints in London's West End in 2003. The Independent reviewer even claimed: "Gately makes all of the audience fall for him." The next year, Gately insisted he be cast against type and excelled as the evil child catcher in a musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. He also appeared in pantomime as Dandini in Cinderella in 2005 – and played the scarecrow in a production of The Wizard Of Oz in Canterbury in April 2006.

Gately was game enough to participate in an All Star Talent Show for Channel Five in 2006, and the second series of ITV's Dancing On Ice two years ago. In 2008, Gately joined Keating and co in a revival of the Boyzone franchise, which proved less successful than Take That's comeback despite the Top 5 single "Love You Anyway".

Born in 1976, Gately was one of five siblings and grew up in small flat in Seville Place, a run-down housing estate in Dublin. "My dad used to be a painter and decorator, which was a nightmare for me, because sometimes I had to go to work with him, for a pound a day, and scrape about 20 walls. But my dad kind of taught me, and that was nice," he recalled in 2001.

A shy boy, he came alive on stage and showed promise as teenage member of the Gaiety Theatre Group. In 1991, he appeared as an extra in Alan Parker's The Commitments. His big break came in 1993 when he and his friend Colin Farrell spotted a newspaper ad placed by Walsh who planned to form "the Irish Take That". Despite his diminutive stature, Gately impressed with his ability to dance and sing his way through four separate auditions as the manager whittled away the 250 applicants down, eventually, to five.

After issuing a remake of the Four Seasons' hit "Working My Way Back To You" in Ireland, the group signed to Polydor in 1994 and began their assault on the charts. Gately was singled out for attention and sang "Shooting Star", the theme tune for the Disney film Hercules, in 1997, as well as "No Matter What", from the Webber musical Whistle Down The Wind, which became Boyzone's biggest hit, selling over a million copies in the UK in 1998.

After admitting to The Sun he was "gay and in love" with Eloy De Jong, of the Dutch-English boy band Caught In The Act, in 1999, Gately expected a backlash but was pleasantly surprised by the rapturous reception Boyzone enjoyed at a live appearance at Hyde Park for Capital Radio's Party In The Park. In 2006, he became a vice-patron of the National Missing Persons Helpline charity, and married his partner Andrew Cowles, in a civil ceremony. He had been working on a children's fantasy novel entitled The Tree Of Seasons.

Paying tribute to Gately, Alan Edwards, the CEO of PR company the Outside Organisation, said: "Stephen was a gentle soul without a bad bone in his body. Always full of enthusiasm, and a pleasure to spend time with."

The band said in a statement: "We are devastated by the loss of our friend and brother, Stephen. He lit up our lives. Our love and sympathy go out to Andrew and Stephen's family."

Pierre Perrone



Stephen Patrick David Gately, singer, songwriter, actor: born Dublin, 17 March 1976; married Andrew Cowles (civil partnership, 2006); died Port d'Andratx, Majorca, 10 October 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Data Entry Administrator

£10670 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee