Page last updated at 21:23 GMT, Sunday, 11 October 2009 22:23 UK

Pop world mourns Boyzone's Gately

From left: Shane Lynch, Ronan Keating, and Mikey Graham
The remaining members of Boyzone arrived in Majorca on Sunday

Friends, fans and stars have paid tribute to Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, who has died suddenly at the age of 33 while on holiday in Majorca.

Gately's bandmates described him as "our friend and brother" and said that he "lit up our lives".

Boyzone manager Louis Walsh pulled out of Sunday's X Factor show, where judge Simon Cowell paid tribute to Gately.

A spokesman for Gately's family attributed his death to natural causes and ruled out drugs and suicide.

Gately was on holiday with his long-term partner Andy Cowles, who was introduced to him by Sir Elton John and his partner David Furnish, and who became his civil partner in 2006.

Gately's boy band enjoyed huge success in the 1990s, scoring six UK number one singles.

They reformed in 2007 before embarking on a string of comeback concerts and were planning to release a new album next year.

BOYZONE UK NUMBER ONE HITS
Stephen Gately and Ronan Keating

Words - October 1996
A Different Beat - December 1996
All That I Need - May 1998
No Matter What - August 1998
When The Going Gets Tough - March 1999
You Needed Me - May 1999

A statement from the four remaining members of Boyzone said: "We have shared such wonderful times together over the years and were all looking forward to sharing many more.

"Stephen was a beautiful person in both body and spirit. Our love and sympathy go out to Andrew and Stephen's family. We love you and will miss you forever."

Singer Ronan Keating was in Chicago when the news of Gately's death emerged and has travelled to join the rest of the group, who flew out to Majorca on Sunday evening, where they spent more than a hour visiting Mr Cowles at Gately's apartment.

Irish solicitor Gerald Kean, a spokesman for Gately's family, said: "There's no foul play involved and it's not suicide.

"It's just a tragic accident is what we've been told and we're happy that that is correct information.

"There is nothing untoward, it's not drugs, we don't believe, it's not suicide, it's not murder, it's not a fight. That's what we've been told."

The family hope to have the remains returned to Ireland by the end of the week for the funeral in Dublin, he added.

A post mortem will take place in Spain on Tuesday.

Police said they were called to a house near Port d'Andratx on the western tip of the island on Saturday afternoon.

"At the moment it is not known how he died," a police spokesman said. "There are no signs of suspicious circumstances."

Sir Elton said on Sunday he and Furnish were "stunned by this tragedy".

"Stephen was the kindest, gentlest soul," he said. "We send our love and condolences to his partner Andy and to all his friends everywhere."

Stephen Gately's apartment complex in Port Andratx, Majorca
Gately died in his apartment complex in Port Andratx, Majorca

Former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, a friend of Gately, said the singer and his group had been "part of Irish life, and far wider than that" for 15 years. "It's a huge, huge tragedy. It's so sad," he said.

Louis Walsh's spokeswoman confirmed that the manager would not go ahead with his appearance as an X Factor judge on Sunday's live results show.

His spokeswoman said: "He thanks you all for the messages of support at this sad time."

Walsh earlier told the News of the World newspaper that he was "in complete shock".

Fellow X Factor judge Simon Cowell paid tribute to Gately, saying his death was "really, really, tragic" and sent his condolences to the star's family, but added: "The show must go on."

Fellow Irish boy band Westlife, also managed by Walsh, put out a statement describing Gately as a "friendly, positive spirit and a passionate performer".



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