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Stephen Gately: Tributes to ‘an extremely talented artist’

By Eddie McIlwaine, Maureen Coleman and Anne Palmer

Stephen Gately had visited Northern Ireland on several occasions during his performances with Boyzone.

His sudden death has left the local showbusiness community stunned and led to an outpouring of tributes from those who had met and worked with the popular singer during his time in the province.

Belfast singer Brian Kennedy, said the music industry had lost a “colourful” entertainer.

“I saw Stephen just recently, because he uses the same gym as me when he’s back in Dublin. To be honest, I thought he seemed to be in the best form I’d seen him,” said Brian.

“He was very happy, madly in love with his partner and delighted that Boyzone were back together again.“

Television and radio presenter Gerry Kelly is currently on holidays in Majorca where Stephen died.

He said: “I’ve known Boyzone since they formed in the 1990s. I switched on the BBC World News and I just could not believe it, it was such a huge shock.

“I’ve always liked Stephen, he was quiet and he was a real gentleman. I’ll certainly contact Boyzone members. Certainly whatever service there is, I’ll be there. I’m in a total state of shock.”

Promoter Peter Aiken was responsible for bringing Stephen and Boyzone to the Odyssey in Belfast on numerous occasions.

He said: “Stephen was one of the good guys in the business.I worked with him for around 20 years and he was always helpful and likeable.”

Broadcaster Ivan Martin of U105 said: “He was an extremely talented artist and one of the nicest people in showbusiness. Always ready to help people. He had a traumatic time over his sexuality and he was told that if he talked openly about it, his fans would turn against him.

“However, he came out and told the world he was gay and the predictions were proved to be wrong. His fans adored him all the more and gave him their full support.”

Belfast comedian Frank Carson told how he once took his granddaughters Saiorse and Ashling backstage at a concert in Manchester to meet Stephen.

He said: “The girls were struck dumb at the face to face, but Stephen made them feel at home and then made their evening by inviting them to stay for the concert which hadn’t really been my intention.”

Barry O’Kane, editor of Big Buzz magazine, described Gately as a “warm, funny, honest guy”.

“I interviewed him several times and always found him to be a bubbly, lovely bloke,” he said. “Stephen lived for music, he really did, and I can’t believe that he has died. It’s such a shame.”

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