Stephen Gately's grief-stricken Boyzone bandmates said they were "truly overwhelmed" as they arrived in Majorca to bring the body of their best friend home.
The group appeared publicly for the first time since the 33-year-old singer's death to speak of their loss.
The band arrived at Majorca's Palma Airport in a private plane from Dublin.
Reading a statement and flanked by his bandmates, who were arm in arm, Ronan Keating told reporters that the band and the Gately family were "truly overwhelmed" by messages of love and support.
"We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for each and every one of them."
Looking weary, and with other band members covering their eyes with sunglasses, Keating said: "Last Saturday our world changed forever when we lost our friend and brother Stephen.
"We have come to Majorca today to accompany our pal on his final journey back to Dublin, where we know he will be given an unforgettable send off tomorrow.
"We'd like to thank the authorities here for their help and for the respect they have shown to our friend.
"Stephen and Andrew (Gately's partner Andrew Cowles) had chosen to make Majorca their second home and we know that Stephen loved the times they spent together here.
"The countless messages of love and support we have received this week have truly overwhelmed ourselves and the Gately family.
"We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for each and every one of them. We would also like to thank the media for respecting our privacy this week and ask that you continue to do so tomorrow.
"Stephen lived to perform and truly loved being centre stage.
"You can be sure he's looking down on us now wishing we'd move over so he could flash his smile for the cameras one more time.
"What the future holds for the four of us now is too hard to even think about. But we know that nothing will ever be the same without our dearest friend, Stephen... rest in peace, brother."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies