The best things in life are always worth waiting for. When Boyzone first called it a day back in 1999, the band always said the day would come when they would perform together again, but as the years slipped by, that prospect seemed increasingly unlikely. None of them could forget the inimitable chemistry between them whenever they performed as Boyzone, nor the sheer, deafening adulation that greeted them everywhere they went. Together, they had created something special; something the world wanted to see again. So, eight years on from their last live show in Dublin in 2000, the time had come for Boyzone to return to the stage and the studio.
Formed in 1993, Boyzone sold a staggering 15 million records, hit the UK number one spot an incredible six times and put Ireland on the musical map. Featuring Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch and Stephen Gately, they combined laid-back Irish charm with boyish good looks and five distinctive personalities that worked together to create something utterly unique. From the moment their debut album, Said And Done, crashed into the UK Number One spot in 1995, they started living a life they had never even dared dream possible.
"I honestly didn't have any idea about anything that would happen to us," Ronan remembers. "All I wanted to do was sing in a band, so my dream came true from the moment I got in the group and we started touring. I didn't think about any of the rest of it."
"We never really got time to take any of it in either," Mikey says now. "If you were number one, you were on a plane to China the next day, so there was never time to stop and think about what was happening or how many records we'd sold or anything like that. We were always onto the next thing."
Indeed, the accolades kept on coming. The group's second album, A Different Beat, was released in 1996 and featured hits including , Isn't It A Wonder, Picture Of You, the title track and the band's first UK Number One single, Words. Its follow up, Where We Belong, was even more successful, spawning All That I Need, Baby Can I Hold You and the band's best selling single, No Matter What. With sold out shows and top selling singles as far a field as Asia and right across Europe, everything Boyzone touched turned to gold.
"We had so much fun," Stephen laughs. "That was the key to it lasting for so long, because a lot of boy bands don't last as long as we did - eight years. I have to say, it was mostly good and happy when we were together, and that's pretty unusual."
Despite that, the band had other dreams beyond Boyzone too. Ronan had enjoyed a taste of solo success with his single, When You Say Nothing At All, and Mikey and Stephen also both wanted to record their own material without the band. After over six years in each other's pockets, it seemed obvious that a break would do everyone good and the band agreed to take time out at the end of 1999.
"Everyone had had enough by that stage I think," Ronan recounts. "Everyone had things they wanted to do. So we played our last show in January 2000 and that was it. I got on the plane to LA the next day to make my first album."
"I just felt relief," Mikey adds. "Huge relief. I wanted a bit of space and freedom. I hadn't spent as much time with my own brother as I'd spent with those four guys and I wanted to go off and have my own life really."
"It was perfect timing for the band to split then," Shane agrees. "I was in self destruct mode. I was drinking just to get through the day and I was feeling the pressure. I just wanted to be at home doing nothing; I was totally burned out, so it was exciting to actually get that break."
The split turned out to be more permanent than any of them had first intended with various reported remarks in the press stirring up resentment between them during their time apart. Ronan's solo career had taken off in a big way, while Stephen also released a solo album then became a West End star after overcoming depression. Mikey, too, followed his own album release by returning to college and working as both a songwriter…
No stations playing Boyzone now
Love Me For A Reason
No Matter What
Picture Of You
Gave It All Away
Baby Can I Hold You
Key To My Life
Father And Son
Baby Can I Hold You
Love You Anyway
Love Is Hurricane