Boyzone & Joseph Star Stephen Gately Dies at 33Date: 12 October 2009
Boyzone star Stephen Gately – who, in recent years, had success crossing over into musical theatre – died on Saturday (10 October 2009) at the age of 33. He was found dead in his sleep while on holiday in Majorca with his long-term partner Andy Cowles. No cause of death has yet been determined.
Ronan Keating and the other members of Boyzone, which reformed in 2007, paid tribute to their former band member in a statement, saying: “We have shared such wonderful times together over the years and were all looking forward to sharing many more. Stephen was a beautiful person in both body and spirit. Our love and sympathy go out to Andrew and Stephen's family. We love you and will miss you forever."
In the 1990s, Irish group Boyzone was one of the most successful boybands in UK chart history. The band reached the top three in the charts with every one of their first 14 singles. Their many hits included "Love Me for a Reason", "When You Say Nothing at All, "Baby Can I Hold You" and "No Matter What" from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down the Wind.
After the ground disbanded, Gately made his stage acting debut in 2003 playing the title role in Bill Kenwright’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which toured before transferring to the West End’s New London Theatre (See News, 17 Feb 2003).
In a statement, Andrew Lloyd Webber said that his wife “Madeleine and I are shocked and deeply upset by Stephen’s untimely death. He was enormously talented, and I very much enjoyed working with him on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Boyzone hit ‘No Matter What’ – my biggest selling single. Madeleine and I got to know him well over the years entertaining him at our Sydmonton Festival. His death is a great loss to the musical world.”
Gately followed the Lloyd Webber musical with a pantomime season as Prince Charming in Cinderella in Bromley and another West End stint as the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium in 2004 (See News, 2 Aug 2004). His last musical theatre was in 2007, playing Jesus in a tour of Godspell, though he had to withdraw after two dates due to contractual conflicts (See News, 5 Oct 2007).
Gately was born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1976. He joined Boyzone at the age of 17 and, prior to that, had been modelling and acting locally. In 1999, he made headlines for announcing to the press that he was gay. Amongst his various accolades, Gately was named "Irish Personality of the Year".
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com when he made his West End debut in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Gately explained his life philosophy and his interest in musicals (See Interviews, 31 Mar 2003): “I take everything as it comes. With Boyzone, we just didn't stop for eight years. Musical theatre was always something I wanted to do and I did have opportunities before. Joseph came along, and it just felt right. It's fun and a family-oriented show, which was important to me. It's also as camp as a row of tents ... At pop concerts, you have people screaming at you all of the time. In the theatre, it feels very different because you do get some screaming and dancing and everything, but you also get people really listening to what it is you are singing about. I love that.”