Today would have been Stephen Gately's 39th Birthday had he not been so sadly taken from us in 2009. I have spent all day listening to my Boyzone albums as I always do on Stephen's Birthday in memory of someone I grew up listening to and admiring. I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about my Boyzone memories.
I remember the day I discovered Boyzone so clearly. Every year I would sit and watch the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. It was 1994 and I was sat at home alone watching but also with it recording on VHS for my sister to watch later. There was a new category for best new act from the Smash Hits tour and Boyzone were the winners.
All my friends at school loved Take That but whilst I liked them there wasn't anyone in the group that I thought "Wow he is lush" and at the age of 15 I was boy crazy. The thing with boy bands is as a girl there is always one of the group that you like. So I was watching the poll party and then all of a sudden Boyzone came on. I sat up and was totally engrossed from the start. There was one boy that stood out for me and that was Stephen Gately. To me he was the most gorgeous boy I had ever seen. I have always liked boys with dark hair and with a bit of a cheeky face and so when I saw him the obsession started. My sister Anna was 12 at the time and as soon as she came home I remember telling her about this new band and how amazing they were. She watched the video back with me and she decided her boy was Ronan. We did love the other boys Shane, Keith and Mikey too but just not quite as much.
|The moment I fell in "love" with Stephen Gately|
From there on my sister and I and some of our friends became besotted with Boyzone. Any time Boyzone was on the tv doing an interview I would record it, my bedroom was covered in posters of Boyzone and Stephen Gately. In fact I even had a poster of Stephen blue tacked to the ceiling so I could look at him when I was in bed falling asleep which makes me laugh a lot now. Even little pictures of Stephen was cut out of magazines and made in to a collage poster that I stuck on my bedroom door. The Said and Done album was on constantly in my mums car on the way to school or on my walkman or hi-fi.
When we heard the news that Boyzone were coming to the Colston Hall in Bristol we had to get tickets. Whilst I suffered badly from anxiety problems there was nothing that was going to stop me from going and seeing Boyzone and as the Colston Hall wasn't the biggest of venues I knew I would cope with the anxiety once I was there. The first Boyzone concert I went to was the first concert I had ever been to. I went with my sister and some friends. As soon as we got there and queued up to go in I knew it was going to be a bit mad. There was a person going down the line selling whistles which everyone seemed to have. Once through the doors we went to buy some merchandise. I got my very first tour t-shirt and then on to the concert hall. The noise on the build up to Boyzone coming out was so loud. The whistles, the screams, the excitement and then eventually after the supporting acts had finished (from what I remember it was a group called Deuce and Sean Maguire) Boyzone came on. And here is where I ruined my very first concert experience. Whilst I thought Boyzone were brilliant and I had a good time I was so overwhelmed to be in the same room as them that I spent pretty much all of the concert crying. I just couldn't believe I was in the same room as Boyzone and how perfect they were and how much I liked Stephen. Thinking back now I know this is sad but at the time it was how I was feeling and even though I wasted that concert crying I wouldn't change it because it was all part of me growing up.
When Boyzone came back to Bristol the next year we went again. This time I didn't cry but stupidly I forgot to take my glasses so Boyzone just looked like a blur for the most part. Luckily we had some lovely ladies sat next to us who had binoculars and they let me have a little look for a few minutes through them. So I did get to see them a bit. I can't remember if it was the second of first concert but for one of them Shane had broken his leg so could only come on stage for the slower songs. I still enjoyed being in the same room as them, listening to their music, seeing their blurry dancing and soaking in the atmosphere that you only get at a boy band concert.
I found this page from my 1995 Diary where I had stuck stickers of Boyzone in with their names. A few years later my sister decided to read my diary and to add the little comments in. I find it quite funny actually:
|My 1995 diary Boyzone Page|
I continued to love Boyzone but didn't go to any other concerts because they never came back to Bristol and I didn't fancy going to an arena with my anxiety problems. I carried on getting all their albums and videos/dvds and enjoying loving them. I remember saying to my sister when I was 17 I was going to learn to drive and we would follow them on tour like some other girls did. I still can't drive so that never happened. I can also remember when Boyzone had their first website you could submit a question and I asked Stephen if he had visited Bath before and he answered it saying that the boys had stayed at The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath and he really liked it.
I remember when Stephen Gately came out as gay that I wasn't shocked. Even though I thought I loved Stephen when I was 15 I was realistic that I would never be with him. I even thought there was a possibility he was gay before he came out. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to be forced to come out in such a public manner but also to have had to keep that secret life for all those years. I felt incredibly sad for him but so happy that the fans still supported him and in fact he even gained a whole new fan base. I remember thinking how brave he was and how I just would love to hug him and tell him how much joy he had brought to his fans and that it was all okay, we still loved him....no matter what!
Boyzone never really officially split up as such. They just sort of decided to have a break and go off and do their own things for a bit. Unlike Take That where special phone lines had to be set up for fans who were heartbroken Boyzone just left us fans hanging and knowing that in the future they would probably get back together again and record again. During this time I still followed their individual careers from solo albums, to acting, to various talent type shows (ie Dancing On Ice and The Games).
Then in 2007 Boyzone started working together again and performed a medley of hits on Children In Need where they announced they would be doing another tour. My sister and I went straight online to book tickets but the nearest was Cardiff which isn't far from Bath but was still a big arena and I was worried about my anxiety. We booked anyway and looked forward to it and then came the amazing news that Boyzone were going to be doing a concert in Bath outside on the Rec in the summer as part of a three day musical extravaganza. As soon as the tickets were announced Anna and I went online and booked them. We managed to get a seat to the side of the middle section on the third row. We decided to give the Cardiff tickets to a friend and just go for the Bath concert. We were so excited as we knew this concert was going to be very different to the ones before. We were 10 years older and this was about celebrating Boyzone and reminiscing about our teens.
So on the 6th July 2008 we found our old tour t-shirts and put them on (or in my case, squeezed into it) and got out our old tour scarf to wave about too.
Here is a picture of us just a few hours before the concert:
|True Boyzone Fans.|
We got down to the Rec and found our seats. We had an amazing view of the stage and then the heavens opened and it poured down with rain, but we didn't care. When Boyzone came on we had the best time ever. They were amazing as always but this time we didn't cry and it wasn't all a blur. We sang along, we called their names, we enjoyed ourselves. This was to be my best Boyzone concert I went to. For the most part Stephen Gately was on our side of the stage which suited me fine. When I watched Stephen this time I saw more than just this man that I fancied but as soon as he came on stage you could tell he was in his element. He put 100% into his performance and he loved it up there.
Here are a couple of pictures I took from that concert:
|Boyzone - back together again on stage - Bath, 2008|
|My favourite picture I took. Ronan and Stephen having fun on stage - Bath, 2008|
Everything was going well. Boyzone were at their best. They were still working together and then on the 10th October 2009 my phone rang at 5am. It was my friend Dee. I knew she wouldn't ring me at that time without a reason so I answered and she told me the shocking and devastating news that Stephen had passed away. I got up and turned the computer and tv on. I just couldn't believe it. Stephen Gately had passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition. I remember seeing Boyzone on the news when they flew out to bring him home, it was heartbreaking. I remember watching the funeral on Sky and crying and feeling so sad for his family, for his partner and for his other loyal fans.
|Picture I took of Stephen on stage in Bath, 2008.|
Stephen was taken from us too young. He was at his best in my opinion. He could sing, he could dance, he could act and he had nearly finished writing his children's book. Stephen seemed happy in his life. When Stephen stepped on stage he shone so brightly. His energy, his cheeky face, his everything. He was a beautiful person. I wish I had got to meet Stephen personally just to thank him for his work. Sadly I never got that chance. Us fans are lucky that with the internet we can share pictures, watch videos, listen to his music and read his book which his partner finished for him. He has left something for us all but he was taken too soon. Life can be so cruel. They do say that good people die young. I don't know what I believe in but I do believe there is a place where good people go and live in peace and I know that if there is such a place Stephen will be there.
After Stephen died a lot of fans went out and got his signature Superman tattoo in memory of him. I have never been a fan of tattoos so I decided to order this lovely wrist band instead with his name on.
When Boyzone released one of the last songs Stephen recorded - Gave It All Away - I couldn't help but having a tear especially at the first lyric "I will learn to live before I die." And when I watched the video you could see how much Stephen was such a big part of Boyzone and how close the boys were. Such a beautiful video and song.
Tonight I will light a candle for Stephen - I will always remember him, he was a big part of my teenage years. I will always celebrate his life.
My Ten Favourite Boyzone Songs
Here are my ten favourite Boyzone songs and links to the videos on Youtube (where possible):
1. Everyday I Love You - I think this is such a beautiful song. I love the lyrics. I remember sending the lyrics to my fiancé Neil not long after we met.
2. Bright Eyes - This song was sang by Stephen. This is actually a special song to me because the orginal song was number one in the charts on the day I was born, so for Stephen to sing it was like a dream come true.
3. A Different Beat - This song always makes me get goosebumps. I loved seeing this performed live at the concerts.
4. Love Me For A Reason - Where it all began for me. I will never forget discovering Boyzone and watching Stephen reaching that really high note. And I still know the main dance part of the song.
5. Said And Done - There is something about this song that I just love. I think I love the fact that all the boys sing a part of the song individually and seeing it in concert where they turned on the chairs was just lovely.
6. No Matter What - A beautiful song which Boyzone sang so nicely.
7. If You Were Mine - Another Stephen song. I always think of the video of him on the platform with everyone cheering around him. Just amazing.
8. Key To My Life - Aside for it being a fab song I just love the video.
9. Father and Son - A classic lovely song.
10. Will Be Yours - This one was only on an album and wasn't released as a single but I love it.
I am glad that Boyzone continue to live on and record together and whilst Stephen was my favourite and always will be I will always support and follow the other boys' careers.
Boyzone Rules Take That Drools! lol (if you watched the Said and Done documentary video you will know what I mean).