As a member of the pop quintet Boyzone, vocalist Stephen Gately enjoyed a good deal of popularity in the 1990s, when his group topped the charts in multiple European countries. Gately shared lead vocals on many of the band's singles, arguably making him one of Boyzone's most visible members. Moreover, he became the first member of a boy band to be openly gay, having announced his sexuality in a British tabloid in June 1999.
Born in 1976 and raised in the working-class Dublin neighborhood of Sheriff Street, Gately began his career singing in school plays. He joined Boyzone in 1993. The group modeled its sound after Take That, whose dissolution in 1996 allowed Boyzone to emerge as Europe's premier boy band. For five years, the group charted an impressive string of hits in England, Ireland, and beyond, although American audiences never embraced the band with the same fervor as European fans. Several months after Gately's highly publicized coming-out in 1999, however, the group called it quits, stating that tensions within the band had reached a boiling point.
Like former bandmate Ronan Keating, Gately released a warmly-received solo album immediately after his run with Boyzone. New Beginning cracked the Top Ten in the U.K., while its title track peaked at number three. He was dropped from Polydor's roster one year later, however, and didn't return to the mainstream until 2008, when a reunited Boyzone returned to the British charts a pair of new singles. The group launched a 29-city tour and planned to issue a new album in 2010, looking to resurrect their popularity with the same flair as the reunited Take That. While living in Spain during a break in recording sessions, however, Gately died unexpectedly of an acute pulmonary edema. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi