Boyzone are an Irish boy band that had popular mainstream success during the 1990s. The group were most successful in Ireland, the UK, Australia and New Zealand; they also had differing levels of success in parts of Europe. The group have released six #1 UK hit singles and four #1 albums, with sales approaching 30 million records as of 2008. They made a comeback in 2007, originally with the intention of just touring but Ronan Keating confirmed in an interview that they wanted to "outdo Take That" in terms of a successful reunion.
Boyzone were put together in 1993 by Louis Walsh who is also known for managing Johnny Logan and Westlife. Before even recording any material they made a now infamous appearance on RT?'s The Late Late Show. Their first album Said and Done was released in 1995 and the following two studio albums in 1996 and 1998. Seven compilation albums have been released, the latest being B-Sides & Rarities in October 2008. Singer Stephen Gately died on 10 October 2009 at the age of 33, which caused Louis Walsh to miss two episodes of The X Factor.
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 Louis 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. Richard Rock (son of Dickie Rock) was invited 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). Stephen Gately's choice is currently unknown. Out of this 50, 10 where selected for a third audition. In the end, Ronan, Stephen, Keith, Richard, Shane and Mark were chosen. Mikey originally was rejected but would later join after the departure of Richard Rock. Ronan 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. Keith's parents were against their son's 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 Shane and Keith were involved in a nearly fatal car crash, but luckily both survived without serious injuries. Louis 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. , Richard Rock one of the original members, left citing musical differences with Ronan Keating. They played through 1993 and in the early parts of 1994 all over Northern Ireland, mainly 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.
A Different Beat
Boyzone's second album - A Different Beat - was released in 1996 and contained its 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". 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".
Where We Belong
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.
In 1999, their greatest hits compilation, By Request, was released and was followed by another tour. At this time, Stephen Gately revealed that he was gay and was in love with the ex-Caught in the Act member Eloy de Jong. It was also during this year that Ronan 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 January 2000. What initially started on that (by now infamous) appearance on The Late Late Show, they had sold more than 10 million records in total. 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. Their 1998 tour of Ireland broke all sales records when 35,000 tickets were sold out in four hours. At their height, Boyzone were one of the biggest-selling artists in music.
2000 and beyond
Boyzone opened the door for fellow Irish group, Westlife. Since Boyzone split in 2000, Ronan Keating has made a career from going solo and has released five albums, also achieving countless hit singles such as "When You Say Nothing at All"; Stephen Gately released a modestly successful solo album and pursued a career in stage acting and particularly West End musicals, starring in the Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Mikey Graham has also pursued solo projects and now works as a music producer; Keith Duffy has appeared in the British soap opera Coronation Street and a number of theatre productions in Ireland and Wales; Shane Lynch recently appeared on the reality TV shows, Celebrity Love Island, Dream Team and The Games. Lynch and Duffy also collaborated in 2000 releasing a version of Milli Vanilli's 1988 hit "Girl You Know It's True".
For seven years after their split in 2000 the members of Boyzone 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 TV soap Coronation Street).
In 2003 rumours of a Boyzone reunion began to circulate. Following the success of fellow Universal artists Take That's reunion and subsequent sell-out tour in 2006, these rumours came to a head and in early 2007 there were news reports that all five members and their manager, The X Factor judge Louis Walsh, had met in Dublin to discuss and organise a comeback tour.
In February 2007 more details of the reunion were announced. On 8 March 2007, former Boyzone manager Louis Walsh was sacked from the ITV show The X Factor (UK) (he was eventually reinstated), saying by way of explanation that "I will be having the busiest year of my career with Westlife, Shayne Ward and the re-launch of Boyzone."
On 8 April 2007, several UK newspapers widely reported that the rumored reunion was cancelled due to the lack of financial investment. The papers stated that no recording company or investors were willing to back the act to guarantee a comeback success experienced by Take That.
On 11 October 2007, Louis 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".
Back Again... No Matter What (2007-2009)
On 5 November 2007, Ronan 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. Ronan 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. Ronan 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. We each went to see Take That on tour at different times and started talking to each other again, but Take That were the icing on the cake that made us decide now was the time to reform. We're very aware of how good Take That are, and know we have to be on a par with them. There won't be a flat, boring stage. We're all dancing again and learning different things we've never done before to rival their pole dancing and stuff. We've been talking about getting back together for some time now. 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 Ronan 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, "Love You Anyway" entered the UK charts at number 5, making it their seventeenth consecutive top five single.
In 2009 the group joined Yvette Fielding in Edinburgh for a Ghost Hunting With... show for ITV.
Boyzone have penned tracks for a new album to be released in early 2010. But since the death of Stephen Gately, this now may not happen.
Reconciliation with Louis Walsh
Despite a bitter feud, Louis Walsh had an emotional public reconcilliation with Boyzone, including Ronan Keating, on the ITV2 programme Ghosthunting with Louis Walsh and Boyzone in which they explored a network of subterranean streets beneath Edinburgh. The programme was broadcast on 29 August 2009.
Death of Stephen Gately
Further information: Stephen Gately#Death
On 10 October 2009, Stephen Gately died at the age of 33 while on holiday in Majorca with his civil partner Andrew Cowles. On 13 October, 2009, AP reports that a post-mortem showed Gately, 33, died as a result of a pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs. The Balearic Islands Superior Justice Tribunal said in a statement. "The singer of the Irish group Boyzone died from natural causes, owing to an 'acute pulmonary edema'".
Boyzone has been commemorated by the London's Rock Circus by inviting them to place their hand prints on the "Walls of Hands" beside the likes of Eric Clapton and the late Michael Jackson. Also, wax figures of the boys were made beside U2 in Dublin.