The world of music is in shock today following the untimely death of Irish singer Stephen Gately while on holiday in Majorca.
Elton John led tributes to Gately today, saying he was the “kindest, gentlest soul”.
John said: “David (Furnish) and I are stunned by this tragedy.
“Stephen was the kindest, gentlest soul. We send our love and condolences to his partner Andy and to all his friends everywhere.”
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern paid tribute to Gately, who he knew, on the BBC’s 'Andrew Marr Show'.
He said: “The Gatelys are in my own constituency. I know the family, I know Stephen.
“Ronan Keating is a very good friend of my daughter’s, my family.
“He (Gately) was with us the other night with his boyfriend Andy, he came to my book launch.”
Mr Ahern, whose daughter Georgina is married to Nicky Byrne of boyband Westlife, continued: “It’s just such a tragedy.
“Boyzone and Stephen, they’ve all been part of Irish life and far wider than that, the last 15 years, and so successful, so it’s a huge, huge tragedy. It’s so sad.
“He was 33 years of age, 15 years at the top, a fine musician, it’s just a huge tragedy to Irish entertainment, Irish music and further afield as well.”
A spokeswoman for Louis Walsh said he only heard about Gately’s death in the early hours of this morning and was “very shocked and exceptionally upset”.
Walsh told the News of the World: “We’re all absolutely devastated. I’m in complete shock. I was only with him on Monday at an awards ceremony.”
Presenter Stephen Fry wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter: “Just heard the very sad news about dear Stephen Gately. What a dreadful shock. He was loveable and sweet-natured and will be hugely missed.”
Singer Katherine Jenkins wrote: “So so sad 2hear the news about Stephen Gately. We had a really fun night out with him at the Ivy Club a few weeks ago. Good memories 2 cherish.”
Presenter and music historian Paul Gambaccini told Sky News: “This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was not in the script.
“Everyone is surprised as well as being demoralised.
“Stephen’s band name had the term ’boy’ in it and boys, which they were when they were popular in the 90s, aren’t supposed to go this quickly.”
He said the hugely successful band had a “special fraternity between them” and still had “everything to play for” before the singer’s death.
Arts Minister Martin Cullen paid tribute to the late singer and offered his sympathy to his family, partner and band members.
He said: “Stephen Gately was a gifted young man with a talent for singing which brought him tremendous success as a member of Boyzone and also as a West End star.
“There was a joy about his music making, and his death at such a young age is both a personal and professional loss.”
Television presenter Emma Forbes, who interviewed Gately on numerous occasions at the height of the band’s fame in the 1990s, described him as a “great talent” and “divine person”.
She told BBC Radio 5 Live: “A sweeter man I’ve never met. He was just the loveliest guy and I am truly saddened.
“Such a young age, such a great talent, a divine person.”
She added: “He had a beautiful voice and a really lovely personality. Whenever I met him it was a total joy to interview him.”
HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said the music community was “shocked and saddened to learn of Stephen's untimely and tragic death” and it was difficult to see the band carrying on without him.
“Boyzone are icons in Ireland and are much loved in the UK also, and as one of its front-men Stephen played his part in developing the band’s warm and engaging appeal to a broad fanbase across all ages,” he said.
“Boyzone had made a successful recent return following their spectacular success in the Nineties, and, along with their solo projects, were looking well set to enjoy an ongoing career of occasional album releases and sell-out tours to family audiences.
“Sadly, the chances are that we’ll be denied that now, as it’s difficult to see the band carrying on without Stephen.
“In the meantime, however, as we tend to see whenever a much-loved artist dies, it’s highly likely that there will be a surge in demand for the band’s greatest hits album as well as for downloads of their most-loved songs.
“This could well propel Boyzone back into the charts, and in Ireland, where they have taken on near iconic status, there’s every chance they could even end up being number one this Christmas.”
Scores of devastated fans posted tributes on the singer’s Facebook page, expressing sadness and disbelief at the news of his death.
Lynda Gammon wrote: “Heaven has gained an angel. RIP Stephen, we are so shocked, our thoughts are with your family, friends and other band members.”
A post by Mike Gardiner read: “This is a total shock OMG”, while Joanne Bloomer wrote: “RIP Stephen. Very sad. U were a true talent!”.