Boyzone are an Irish boy band. Their most famous line-up was composed of Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, and Shane Lynch. Boyzone have had 21 singles in the top 40 UK charts and 22 singles in the Irish charts. The group have had 6 UK number one singles and 9 number one singles in Ireland with 12 of their 24 singles in the UK being in the UK Top 2. Boyzone are one of the most successful bands in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In total, Boyzone had 19 top 5 singles on the Irish Singles Chart, 18 top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart, nine No. 1 Irish hit singles and six No. 1 UK hit singles and five No. 1 albums, with 25 million records sold by 2013 worldwide.
They were put together in 1993 by Louis Walsh, who is also known for managing Johnny Logan and Westlife. Before even recording any material, Boyzone made an appearance on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show. The group split in 1999. Boyzone made a comeback in 2007, originally with the intention of just touring. Gately died on 10 October 2009 of natural causes while on his holiday in the Spanish island of Majorca with his civil partner, Andrew Cowles.
In 2012, the Official Charts Company revealed the biggest selling singles artists in British music chart history, with Boyzone currently placed at 29th and the second most successful boy band in Britain, behind Take That. To date, Boyzone have released four studio albums and seven compilation albums. Based on BPI certifications, they have sold over 13 million records in the UK alone.
In 1993, an advertisement appeared in many Irish newspapers calling for auditions to form a new Irish “boy band” group. The advertisements were sent out by theatrical manager Walsh who was looking to make an “Irish Take That” following on from their success. The auditions were held in The Ormond Center, in Dublin, in November 1993. More than 300 people replied to the advertisement. At the auditions the applicants were asked to sing the song “Careless Whisper” by George Michael. Each audition would be taped and watched again to judge the applicant’s performance. Out of the 300, 50 were selected for a second audition. For the second audition the applicants where asked to sing two songs, including one of their own choice with a backing tape. Mikey Graham sang “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” by Meat Loaf, Keith Duffy sang “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, Ronan Keating sang “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens (a cover version of which the band would later release), and Stephen Gately sang Hello by Lionel Richie. Out of this 50, 10 were selected for a third audition. In the end, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Keith Duffy, Richard Rock (son of Dickie Rock), Shane Lynch and Mark Walton were chosen.
Graham originally was rejected but would later join after the departure of Rock. Rock left citing musical differences with Ronan Keating. Keating initially faced a lot of opposition from his parents and teachers. He was planning to move to New York to study in college on a sports scholarship and pursue his dream to win an Olympic medal for athletics. In the end Ronan decided to give up his education and go along with Boyzone. Duffy’s parents were against their son throwing away a solid and promising career and joining the band. Louis Walsh set about trying to get a deal with a good record company but it would take many rejection letters before the boys would be signed. In 1994 Lynch and Duffy were involved in a nearly fatal car crash; both survived without serious injuries. Walsh was reportedly furious, and drew up contracts for all the boys to sign, leading to their activities being restricted. With some of the original lineup fading away and others being brought into the group, it took some time before Boyzone settled down into its most recognisable five-member line-up of Shane Lynch, Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy.
Breakthrough and second album (1994–1997)
Boyzone played through 1994 all over Northern Ireland, in pubs and clubs, before Polygram signed them up in 1994 and released the cover version of the Four Seasons’ hit “Working My Way Back to You”, featuring Graham and Gately on lead vocals. It reached No. 3 in the Irish Charts. The release of their cover version of the classic Osmonds’ hit, “Love Me for a Reason”, broke into the British charts. The song hit No. 2 in the UK and was included in their 1995 hit debut album Said and Done. The album reached the No. 1 spot in Ireland and the UK. In 1995, the singles “Key to My Life”, “So Good” and “Father and Son” were released, which all got the attention of new fans in Europe.
Their second album, A Different Beat – was released in 1996, it was the album that would bring the band worldwide success and it sold 2 million copies worldwide. The song “Coming Home Now”, was released as a single. Boyzone had their first UK number one single, a cover of the Bee Gees’ hit “Words”. The album also contained the hit singles “A Different Beat” and “Isn’t It a Wonder”. In 1997, Boyzone released three singles “Isn’t It a Wonder”, “Picture of You”, and “Baby Can I Hold You/Shooting Star”. Boyzone performed at the Eurovision Song Contest and performed “Let the message run free” and tried to break the US market with their version of “Mystical Experience” which they also recorded in Spanish. Ronan Keating – who by now had emerged as the lead singer and frontman – won the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting in 1997 for “Picture of You”.