The natural inheritors to Take Thats boy band throne in the mid-90s, this quintet of unaffected young Irish men was tailored for mainstream success by Polydor Records and their manager, promoter Louis Walsh. After auditions Keith Duffy (1 October 1974, Dublin, Eire) was recruited from his job as a mechanic, Shane Lynch (b. 3 July 1976, Dublin, Eire) from an architecture course, Ronan Keating (b. 3 March 1977, Dublin, Eire) and Stephen Gately (b. 17 March 1976, Dublin, Eire) were enlisted directly from school. Mark Walton (b. 12 September 1975, Eire) and Richard Rock completed the original line-up of the band. They were rapidly rehearsed and groomed while Walsh set about securing a short-term contract with PolyGram Ireland but, after a disastrous appearance on The Late Late Show, Walton and Rock were ejected from the band and Mikey Graham (b. 15 August 1972, Dublin, Eire) brought in as a replacement.
Boyzones debut single, a cover version of the Detroit Spinners Working My Way Back To You released in November 1993, launched the group in Ireland when it broke into the Top 3 the following spring. The groups UK breakthrough came with a cover of the Osmonds Love Me For A Reason, which was produced for them by Take That collaborator Mike Hedges. It became an instant success on release in December 1994, peaking at number 2 in the UK charts and selling 700, 000 copies. The single became a Top 10 hit in most European countries and also topped the Irish charts. The bands debut album, Said And Done, was released in August 1995 and sold over one million copies worldwide. As well as Love Me For A Reason, it included three other hit singles, Key To My Life, So Good and their Christmas 1995 cover version of Cat Stevens Father And Son. With the demise of Take That in 1996 and the rise of numerous boy bands, Boyzone moved to the head of the pack, with further hit singles including Coming Home Now and a cover version of the Bee Gees Words, their first UK number 1. A Different Beat also rose to the top of the UK charts, and further hits followed in 1997 with Isnt It A Wonder, Picture Of You, and a cover version of Tracy Chapmans Baby Can I Hold You. All That I Need topped the UK charts in May 1998, a feat repeated in August by the Andrew Lloyd-Webber / Jim Steinman -penned No Matter What, taken from the musical Whistle Down The Wind. The latter also became the bands first million-selling single. The bands next single, I Love The Way You Love Me, stalled at number 2 in December. A Different Beat and Where We Belong followed in the footsteps of their debut album by entering the UK charts at number 1, although both albums indicated that the bands strength remained as a singles act. Their charity single, a cover version of Billy Oceans When The Going Gets Tough, topped the UK singles chart for two weeks in March 1999.
In the late 90s, Keating worked hard to establish himself away from Boyzone, recording solo material and presenting the prime-time UK talent show Get Your Act Together. He also enjoyed success as a manager/promoter, with his protégés Westlife topping the UK charts in May 1999 with their debut single, Swear It Again. Boyzone followed them to the top the same month with their new single, You Needed Me. Their popularity was seemingly unaffected by Gately publicly declaring his homosexuality shortly afterwards. Keatings cover version of Keith Whitleys country hit When You Say Nothing At All, taken from the soundtrack of Notting Hill, topped the UK charts in August. Boyzones weak Christmas single, Every Day I Love You, stalled at number 3 in December.
Gately and Keating both released solo albums the following year but denied rumours that Boyzone had split-up. Nevertheless, the growing acrimony between Keating and the other members had by now effectively spelled the end for one of the 90s most successful boy bands. Keating continued with his successful solo career while Gately and Duffy both moved into acting, with the former appearing in the West End productions of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the latter landing a prominent role in the popular UK soap opera Coronation Street.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.