A Rockapaedia Obituary
Stephen Gately died aged thirty-three on 10th October 2009 at his home in Port d'Andratx, Mallorca, Spain. His body was discovered later that morning. His death was later determined to have been caused by a pulmonary oedema resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition.
Spanish police were alerted after Stephen Gately was found squatting in an awkward position 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 found on his body. 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".
A post-mortem and toxicology tests took place on 13th October and this examination showed that Stephen Gately died of natural causes. He died as a result of a congenital heart defect. Toxicology also confirmed the statement by Stephen Gately's partner Cowles that he had been smoking cannabis that evening.
On 16th October,2009, accompanied by the four remaining members of Boyzone, Stephen's body was brought from Mallorca 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. Stephen 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. Michael Graham said Stephen Gately had only told him the previous week how much he loved Cowles, adding: "When he came out as gay, 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.
Stephen Gately was born on 17th March 1976 in Dublin, Ireland. He was the fourth of five children born to his mother, Margaret and father, Martin Gately. His siblings are Michelle, Tony, Alan and Mark. Stephen Gately was raised Catholic. He was particularly close to sister Michelle throughout his life. Stephen Gately attended primary school at St Laurence O'Toole's and secondary school at North Strand Technical College. As a teenager he appeared in various musicals and theatre performances at school, such as Juno and the Paycock. He was estranged from his parents for years, but reconciled with them in 2008, and visited them with his gay partner Andrew Cowles that year.
Stephen Gately joined Boyzone upon their formation in 1993. The group became known in Ireland after an infamous appearance on The Late Late Show that year, which presenter Gay Byrne dismissed—although he later concluded: "They certainly had the last laugh on us". Boyzone's first success outside of Ireland was when the song "Love Me for a Reason" reached number two in the UK Singles Chart in 1995. The group split suddenly following a string of performances in Dublin's Point Theatre in 2000. By this time, they had achieved six number ones on the UK Singles Chart. They were considered a major pop band of the 1990s and had a much publicised rivalry with UK boy band Take That, even selling more singles than them. Stephen Gately shared the majority of lead vocal work with Ronan Keating.
After success with Boyzone, the band decided in 2000 to move on to solo projects. Stephen Gately was the first, with his debut solo single, "New Beginning", released on 29th May 2000. The single reached number three in the UK charts.
Two weeks later the album New Beginning was released and entered the charts. The album included twelve tracks including a version of the classic "Bright Eyes", which he recorded for the soundtrack to the TV version of Watership Down. He also voiced one of the characters in the series, Blackavar, which was created to look like him. His character only spoke for three episodes, before becoming a background character.
The second single taken from the album was "I Believe". Released on 2nd October 2000, this song also featured on the soundtrack to the film Billy Elliot. The single just missed the UK top ten, peaking at number eleven. Stephen attended the premieres of the film both at the Edinburgh Film Festival and at the Empire, Leicester Square, along with the stars of the film, Julie Walters and Jamie Bell. In May 2001, Stephen Gately's third single, "Stay", was released and reached number thirteen in the UK chart. That month, with his single still in the charts, his record company Polydor dropped him from their label.
In December 2002, Stephen Gately took the lead role in Bill Kenwright's new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which previewed in Oxford in December 2002 before moving to Liverpool over Christmas 2002 and finally to London's West End and the New London Theatre in Drury Lane in February 2003. From September 2004 until March 2005 Stephen Gately played the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium.
In 2001 Stephen made a cameo as himself in the fourth series of BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, in that series' opening episode 'Parralox'.
Stephen Gately made his pantomime debut at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley in December 2005 starring as Dandini in Cinderella. In April 2006 he took on the role of The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.
Stephen Gately also took part in Channel Five's All Star Talent Show in October 2006, performing the slice and dice magic trick which he only had a week to learn, coming second to Toby Anstis. He was also in the second series of ITV's Dancing on Ice with his dancing partner Kristina Lenko. They went out in eighth place on 10 February 2007.
In January 2007, Stephen Gately was heard in Horror of Glam Rock, a Doctor Who audio drama produced by Big Finish Productions for BBC7. For this audio play, Stephen Gately recorded an original song, "Children of Tomorrow", with music by Tim Sutton and lyrics by Barnaby Edwards; this was his first solo track since 2001.
In September 2007, Stephen Gately began touring the UK in an 11-week run of Stephen Schwartz's rock musical Godspell, but withdrew from the production after just three weeks for contractual reasons.
In 2008, Stephen Gately appeared in the independent horror film, Credo, which was released in the United States as Devil's Curse.
In 2008 following his solo career and various bouts of acting and television appearances, Stephen Gately rejoined his old colleagues when Boyzone reformed, following the success of revived contemporaries Take That. Stephen Gately had been the most eager to reform and urged his bandmates to come together again. They sold out two more tours of the United Kingdom.
Boyzone released a brand new single, "Love You Anyway", followed by a new compilation album in October 2008. December 2008 saw the release of a second new single, "Better". The video for the song generated controversy, as scenes depicting romantic couples included a shot of two men embracing, in an inclusive nod to Stephen Gately's homosexuality. The group unanimously agreed that Stephen Gately should be allowed to pair with a male actor. It was condemned by, among others, the minister of the Dromore Reformed Presbyterian Church. Others, however, cite that milestone as among the reasons why Stephen Gately is a "gay rights hero". Wrote Tim Teeman of the Times Online, "Stephen Gately showed that an unflamboyant guy could be a pop star and gay...the real shame should be reserved for those managers and showbusiness power-brokers who practise that kind of discrimination, and also maintain the closet, to line their pockets."
At the time of Stephen Gately's death the group had selected thirty songs which they intended to record for a new album to be released in 2010. This was to have been followed by a tour.
Stephen Gately's vocals features on Boyzone's final album, in a song called "I Can Dream". A video of the song was released on 15th June 2018, featuring images of Stephen Gately and Boyzone.
During the three years prior to his death, Stephen Gately had been writing a children's fantasy novel called The Tree of Seasons. In an April 2009 interview with the Press Association he declared that he was nearly finished, had publisher interest, and hoped for a Christmas 2009 release. Boyzone bandmate Ronan Keating promised at Stephen Gately's funeral that "by hook or by crook" the book would be finished.
The Tree of Seasons was written in collaboration with June Considine and Jules Williams. Based on Stephen Gately's handwritten notes – the day he died he had just worked out the ending. The book released in the UK and Ireland on 13th May 2010, published by Hodder & Stoughton. It contains a foreword by Elton John and David Furnish, and is illustrated by Keith Wilson. The Tree of Seasons remained a best seller and a top ten seller for three consecutive weeks.
Stephen Gately came out as gay in 1999 after discovering that an acquaintance was about to sell the details of his sexuality to the media. He was subsequently described as a "champion of gay rights, albeit a reluctant one".