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.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
i100
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model of a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution