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Boyzone are an Irish boy band. Its most famous line-up was composed of Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, and Shane Lynch. Boyzone have had 19 singles in the top 40 UK charts and 21 singles in the Irish charts. The group have had 6 UK number one singles and 9 number one singles in Ireland with 12 of their 20 singles in the UK being in the UK Top 2. Boyzone are one of the most successful bands in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In total, Boyzone had 19 top 5 singles on the Irish Singles Chart, 18 top 10 hits on the UK charts, nine #1 Irish Singles Chart hit singles and six #1 UK hit singles and five #1 albums, with 25 million records sold by 2013 worldwide. The number is confirmed by Gately's book The Tree of Seasons.
Boyzone had competition with Take That, in which they sold 19 million records. However, Boyzone outsold Take That selling 22 million records. Since both bands reformation, Take That have had 15 million further records sold and Boyzone have had 3 million further records sold. Boyzone eventually made a comeback in 2007, originally with the intention of just touring. They were put together in 1993 by Louis Walsh, who is also known for managing Johnny Logan and Westlife. Before even recording any material, Boyzone made an appearance on RTÉ's The Late Late Show. Gately died on 10 October 2009 of natural causes while on his holiday in the Spanish island of Majorca with his civil partner, Andrew Cowles. In 2012, the Official Charts Company revealed the biggest selling singles artists in British music chart history with Boyzone currently placed at 29th and the second most successful boyband in Britain. To date, Boyzone has released four studio albums and seven compilation albums.
In 1993, an advertisement appeared in many Irish newspapers calling for auditions to form a new Irish "boy band" group. The advertisements were sent out by theatrical manager Walsh who was looking to make an "Irish Take That" following on from their success. The auditions were held in The Ormond Center, in Dublin, in November 1993. More than 300 people replied to the advertisement. At the auditions the applicants were asked to sing the song "Careless Whisper" by George Michael. Each audition would be taped and watched again to judge the applicant's performance. Out of the 300, 50 were selected for a second audition. For the second audition the applicants where asked to sing two songs, including one of their own choice with a backing tape. Mikey Graham sang "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" by Meat Loaf, Keith Duffy sang "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred, Ronan Keating sang "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens (a cover version of which the band would later release), and Stephen Gately sang Hello by Lionel Richie. Out of this 50, 10 were selected for a third audition. In the end, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Keith Duffy, Richard Rock (son of Dickie Rock), Shane Lynch and Mark Walton were chosen.
Graham originally was rejected but would later join after the departure of Rock. Rock left citing musical differences with Ronan Keating. Keating initially faced a lot of opposition from his parents and teachers. He was planning to move to New York to study in college on a sports scholarship and pursue his dream to win an Olympic medal for athletics. In the end Ronan decided to give up his education and go along with Boyzone. Duffy's parents were against their son throwing away a solid and promising career and joining the band. Louis Walsh set about trying to get a deal with a good record company but it would take many rejection letters before the boys would be signed. In 1994 Lynch and Duffy were involved in a nearly fatal car crash; both survived without serious injuries. Walsh was reportedly furious, and drew up contracts for all the boys to sign, leading to their activities being restricted. With some of the original lineup fading away and others being brought into the group, it took some time before Boyzone settled down into its most recognisable five-member line-up of Shane Lynch, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy.
Boyzone played through 1994 all over Northern Ireland, in pubs and clubs, before Polygram signed them up in 1994 and released the cover version of the Four Seasons' hit "Working My Way Back to You", featuring Graham and Gately on lead vocals. It reached No. 3 in the Irish Charts. The release of their cover version of the classic Osmonds' hit, "Love Me for a Reason", broke the British charts. The song hit No. 2 in the UK and was included in their 1995 hit debut album Said and Done. The album reached the No. 1 spot in Ireland and the UK. In 1995, the singles "Key to My Life", "So Good" and "Father and Son" were released, which all got the attention of new fans in Europe. Their second album, A Different Beat – was released in 1996, the song "Coming Home Now", was released as a single. Boyzone had their first UK number one single, a cover of the Bee Gees' hit "Words". The album also contained the hit singles "A Different Beat" and "Isn't It a Wonder". In 1997, Boyzone released three singles "Isn't It a Wonder", "Picture of You", and "Baby Can I Hold You/Shooting Star". Boyzone performed at the Eurovision Song Contest and performed "Let the message run free" and tried to break the US market with their version of "Mystical Experience" which they also recorded in Spanish. Ronan Keating – who by now had emerged as the lead singer and frontman – won the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting in 1997 for "Picture of You".
Their third studio album, Where We Belong, was released in 1998 and featured Boyzone's writing abilities. It contained the hit singles "All That I Need" (which stayed for six weeks in the MTV Asia charts), "Baby Can I Hold You" (Tracy Chapman cover) and "No Matter What". Originally written for the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical Whistle Down the Wind, "No Matter What" was the group's best ever selling single and was voted Song of the Year, 1998. Since the song was also recorded by Meat Loaf, Boyzone shared stage with him to perform the song during his 1998 live concert in Dublin. Their 1998 tour of Ireland broke all sales records when 35,000 tickets were sold out in four hours. In 1999, "When the going gets tough", "You needed me" and "Everyday i love you" were singles released as well as their greatest hits compilation, By Request, was released and was followed by another tour. In June 1999, Gately revealed that he was gay and was in love with the ex-Caught in the Act member Eloy de Jong. Also during this year Keating released his first solo single, "When You Say Nothing at All", an Alison Krauss song which he had recorded for the movie Notting Hill.
By this time, after six years together and amid growing tensions behind the scenes, the group members decided to take some time off from Boyzone to pursue solo projects. Boyzone performed together for the last time in Ireland at the point depot during nine dates running from 3 January - 8 January & 10–12 January 2000, they had sold more than 20 million records in total and all sixteen of their singles reached the UK top five and they became the first Irish act to have four number one hits in the United Kingdom charts. At their height, Boyzone were one of the biggest-selling artists in music. For seven years after their split, the members had mixed success in their individual careers. Keating in particular remained a force in the music industry as he continued writing and managing other bands. Gately also continued his career as a solo artist, appearing in a number of West End stage musicals, and Duffy had some success as an actor (including a role in the television soap Coronation Street).
Rumours came to a head and in early 2007 there were news reports that all five members and their manager, The X Factor judge Walsh, had met in Dublin to discuss and organise a comeback tour. On 11 October 2007, Walsh was interviewed on The Graham Norton Show; when asked by Graham Norton whether there was going to be a re-launch of Boyzone he replied "I think so". On 5 November 2007, Keating confirmed that Boyzone would reunite for a special appearance on the BBC's annual fundraiser, Children in Need, performing a medley of hits, although had not yet commented on the possibility of a new tour or album. On 14 November 2007, it was reported that all five members of Boyzone were to begin a UK tour in May, which would be their first in seven years. Keating, who left the Irish boy band to pursue a solo career, joined the group for the series of concerts. On 16 November, Boyzone made a comeback appearance as part of Children In Need on BBC1 in the UK, with an Irish and UK tour announced for June 2008.
The group sold 200,000 tickets for the tour within three hours and sold 20,000 tickets on the first day of them going on sale for their concert in the RDS Dublin. Keating told the Daily Star: "We've been taking it easy on the Guinness and been out for dinners and just a couple of drinks. We're taking the tour plans very seriously. We're all on diets and we've been training in the gym every day. I'm probably the fittest now that I've ever been. I think we all look better now than before. I can't wait to be back on the road and all the guys feel the same." The 29-date tour, taking in cities such as Cardiff, Newcastle, Liverpool, London at the O2 Arena and Wembley, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Edinburgh Castle and the RDS in Dublin.
The tour began on 25 May 2008 at Belfast's Odyssey arena and finished at Carlisle Bitts Park on 23 August 2008. On 29 August 2008 Boyzone played alongside other acts such as Sandi Thom and Scouting For Girls at an event in Blackpool to switch on the Blackpool Illuminations, an annual event in the town. The event received coverage on BBC Radio 2. On 3 September, the video for Love You Anyway debuted on the digital music channel The Box. It features all 5 of the original members of Boyzone with Keating taking most of the lead vocals. The single received its first play on 20 August 2008, live on Terry Wogan's Radio 2 Breakfast show. On 6 October 2008, "Love You Anyway" entered the UK charts at number 5, making it their seventeenth consecutive top five single. On 8 December their second single of 2008 "Better" was released and charted at number 22 in the UK charts, number 26 in the Irish charts and number 63 in the European hot singles charts. On 28 August 2009 the group joined Yvette Fielding in Edinburgh for a Ghosthunting with... show for ITV2.
In 2009, Boyzone played their Better Tour, which was the last tour to feature Gately and it was a medium successful tour which included some arenas being only half full. On 10 October 2009, Gately died suddenly at his flat in Port d'Andratx, Majorca. Gately's body was discovered later in the morning. His death was later determined to have been caused by a pulmonary edema resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition.
Gately had spent the evening with his partner Cowles at the Black Cat club in Majorca's capital Palma. They returned home with someone that they had met that night, Bulgarian Georgi Dochev. Dochev stayed in the spare bedroom. According to Dochev, he discovered Gately's body lying on a sofa as he was about to leave. He woke Cowles, who was sleeping alone in the couple's bedroom. However, Gately's solicitor and family friend, Gerald Kean, insisted Cowles was the one who found Gately's body. Spanish police were alerted at 1:45 pm by Cowles, after he had tried to revive Gately. Gately was squatting in an awkward way on the sofa, dressed in his pyjamas. Police said they had no reason to believe the death was related to abuse of substances such as drugs or alcohol and no suicide note or signs of violence were located on the corpse. Gerald Kean, acting as spokesman for the Gately family, said that foul play and suicide had been ruled out, describing it as "just a tragic accident". It was Kean, Gately's solicitor throughout his career, who informed Ronan Keating that Gately had died.
Though still finding it difficult to come to terms with his sudden death Lynch has recently claimed that Gately died for a reason. He is reported as saying "I've got to understand that it's all for a reason. If I don't understand why then one day I'll be told." Gately's bandmates flew to Majorca on 11 October 2009; Walsh was expected to join them soon after. The surviving members of Boyzone, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating and Shane Lynch, issued a joint statement:
A post-mortem and toxicology tests took place on 13 October and this examination showed that Gately died of natural causes. He died as a result of a congenital heart defect. Toxicology also confirmed the statement by Gately's partner Cowles that he had been smoking cannabis that evening.
On 16 October, accompanied by the four surviving members of Boyzone, his body was brought from Majorca to Dublin where his funeral took place at the Church of St Laurence O'Toole the following day. The four surviving members of Boyzone maintained an overnight vigil in the church the night before. Thousands of fans, celebrities and politicians were in attendance at the funeral. Fans had travelled from as far as Nottingham, South Africa and Taiwan to attend the funeral. He was cremated in a private ceremony later that afternoon. Gately's coffin was carried into and out of the church by his bandmates, and during the service Ronan Keating gave an emotional eulogy, during which he broke down several times and apologised to the congregation. Keith Duffy reminisced on the early days: "He told Louis [Walsh] he was 5ft 7in. When he auditioned for The Hobbit later on, he said he was 5ft 3in. But he was a true giant of a man". Mikey Graham said Gately had only told him the previous week how much he loved Cowles, adding: "When he came out, he finally became himself". The funeral clashed with the wedding of a niece of Bertie Ahern and several of her guests defected to the funeral instead.
Fans responded with messages of sympathy on the social networking websites Twitter and Facebook. Thousands of pounds have been donated by fans to a Stoke-based children's charity which Gately had endorsed. The Google search term "Stephen Gately" was said to have "risen exponentially" and remained at the top for several days after the singer's death and was later confirmed as being the most searched for topic on Google's UK site in 2009. The search term "Boyzone" also ranked highly, being separated from "Stephen Gately" only by second-placed searches for "Nobel Peace Prize" following a controversial award to U.S. President Barack Obama. Boyzone's record catalogue was propelled back into the music charts. The single "No Matter What", on which Gately is a prominent vocalist, received heavy play on radio.
Boyzone manager Louis Walsh is quoted as saying: "We're all absolutely devastated. I'm in complete shock. I was only with him on Monday at an awards ceremony. We don't know much about what's happened yet. I only heard after The X Factor (UK television talent show on which Walsh is a judge) and we will rally around each other this week. He was a great man." Walsh dropped out of the 11 October 2009 live results show of The X Factor as a direct result of Gately's death. Simon Cowell addressed the issue at the start of the programme. He said: "This is really, really tragic news I want to send out my condolences to the family, our thoughts are with Louis". That edition of the show attracted an "absolutely huge" audience which was said to have been seeking updates on the singer's death. Walsh also was absent from the second week of The X Factor which coincided with Gately's funeral,—later commenting: "I never want to watch the show at home again. I've been shouting at the TV all night"— at which Walsh was too upset to speak. My First Time, a stage show which was set to star bandmember Keith Duffy, was cancelled entirely. Duffy, Graham, Keating and Lynch had memorial "76 09" tattoos (Gately's birth and death years) engraved on their bodies when they brought Gately's body home. Irish boyband Westlife said: "We are, like everyone else, in shock today. We met Stephen Gately back in ‘98 when we first started out and since then have had the pleasure of meeting him many times. He and the Boyzone lads paved the way for us as a band. He was a friendly, positive spirit and a passionate performer. Our thoughts are with Andy and the rest of his family, his friends, his legions of fans and of course his bandmates Keith, Mikey, Shane and Ronan who will be devastated at the loss of a truly beautiful person.".
The four surviving Boyzone members were originally going to release the new album in mid-2010 with a summer tour following the album, but the album was released in March 2010 which was earlier than planned. The album was released as a tribute to Gately which included two new songs that were performed by Gately before his death. One song was written by singer-songwriter Mika
who has also claimed that the new song he wrote for Boyzone is the last one which will feature Gately's vocals in which he and Keating shared the vocals and originally the song would have led to Ronan singing first then Stephen would sing the second part prior to that, the song was released as their fourth studio album on 8 March 2010. The track written by Mika became the lead single from the new album, titled "Gave It All Away". Boyzone loved this track and wished to release this song as their comeback single. The song received its first airplay on 17 January 2010. Graham stated that Gave It All Away would be released on 1 March 2010 and the album was released a week afterwards. Gave It All Away to date has sold 130,000 copies in the UK alone. The single charted in Australia and New Zealand and peaked at #9 on the UK Singles Chart and at #1 on the Irish Singles Chart.
Boyzone's fourth studio album, Brother was released on 8 March 2010 and become their fourth studio number one album so far in both Ireland and the UK selling 400,000 copies in the UK, 30,000 copies in Republic of Ireland and 7,000 in Germany, the album also charted in several other European countries, Australia and in the top ten in New Zealand selling 600,000 copies worldwide to date as of 2012. "Love Is a Hurricane" was the second and final single from Brother. It was released on 17 May, peaking #44 on the UK Singles Chart and at #39 on the Irish Singles Chart selling 12,000 copies. In mid-2010, it was announced that they would be touring the UK and Ireland during February and March 2011 with a 21 date tour of the Ireland and UK with their arena-based Brother Tour and four outdoor shows around the UK during August, the tour was seen by 160,000 fans and the tour grossed $10 million in total. A DVD of the tour from The O2 Arena will be released in December 2013. Boyzone performed "No Matter What" with Kim Marsh on an ITV programme called "Coronation Street The Big 50" broadcast on ITV1 on 10 December 2010, but Graham was not present due to other commitments.
Lynch said in an interview on ITV1 show Loose Women that Boyzone will be releasing a new album and be touring in 2013 which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band forming. Duffy told The Sun newspaper, "We've plans in place for a tour and an album next year for the 20th anniversary, The album will probably involve the O2 arena in London, it's very exciting!, we've a very loyal fanbase that always come in their thousands. It's a nice set-up. We never broke up, so we can take time out to do our own thing, and then get back together when it suits." Tickets for the tour went on sale on the 14th February 2013 and there has been huge demand for more dates to be added, the tour will be released in a cd format and include the dvd of their 2011 tour which has been held back from release until December 2013. A tour of europe and Australisia is expected to follow with demand expected.
As part of the 20th anniversary the band recorded a programme on 12th June 2013 due to be broadcast on Irish channel RTE in August called "Boyzone - For One Night Only".
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