Keith Duffy’s chilling dreams after Stephen Gately death as Boyzone unravelled
It was Ronan Keating who delivered the harrowing news to his Boyzone bandmates October 10, 2009 that their 'brother' Stephen Gately had died.
Shane Lynch, Mikey Graham and Keith Duffy couldn't believe what they were hearing when the call came through 10 years ago today to say he'd passed away in Majorca from an undiagnosed heart condition.
They'd seen him only a matter of weeks before on their Back Again… No Matter What tour, and he'd seemed happier than ever.
But through the shock and tears, they knew what they had to do – and that was bring him home.
Taking the load off Stephen's distraught husband Andrew Cowles – who found him dead on their sofa of their holiday home after a night out – the boys flew straight to Majorca.
But as soon as the plane landed, the fog of shock lifted and their worlds began to fall apart.
"When I walked into the funeral home I just crumbled, we all did. I fell to pieces, it was there that I realised he was gone, really gone and that was very hard for all of us, for our families," Ronan told Sky News.
They were tasked with choosing a coffin, something Keith described as the, "hardest thing that any of us have had to do in our lives."
"This was something that was going to be the last thing that your friend is going to lie in," he added.
It was the same coffin that the heartbroken foursome would spend the night before the funeral next to at St Laurence O'Toole Roman Catholic church in Dublin before because his mum worried Stephen "didn't like to be alone."
They camped on the church floor in sleeping bags, sharing songs and stories with their best friend.
"We cried and we laughed and we could hear him telling us jokes and we could hear him answering back…" Ronan later said. "It was a beautiful, amazing experience to be there with Steo that night."
At the funeral they delivered a moving eulogy, their voices breaking as they remembered Stephen, 33, before carrying his coffin to the hearse.
But once the funeral was over, it was then that the true horror of the situation began to take its cruel toll.
For Keith, his grief took the form of chilling nightmares – so terrifying that he didn't dare go to sleep.
"I was distraught – I felt anger, disbelief, I cried a lot and had terrible nightmares," he told Closer magazine.
"In the first few weeks they were terrifying. I couldn't breathe, I'd go light-headed and it was incredibly frightening."
For years he struggled to understand the loss and tried to "knock himself out" with alcohol
And when the band hit the road just two years later with their grief still raw, it ended in disaster.
“He died in 2009 and we were back on the road in 2011, two years later – which was way too soon. Way too soon," Keith told The Express.
“Emotionally and psychologically… I’ll be very honest, myself and Shane were drinking too much, trying to numb the pain, onstage and offstage.
“It just didn’t work, and it wasn’t enjoyable. We didn’t want to be together. That’s when we took a sabbatical."
Mikey agreed, admitting they "weren't "emotionally stable enough."
"We hadn't really gone through the grieving process enough. We hadn't received counselling or the stuff that we should have done for such a great loss," he said in 2014.
"And I think that tour kind of brought an awful lot of that out in each one of us. We missed him so much… it was too early."
Like Keith, Ronan's mental health deteriorated and his life-long Catholic faith was tested to the core.
"You can't breathe, you feel like your chest is collapsing, the walls are coming in on top of you," he told the Guardian of how grief had affected him.
"My brain doesn't work. My heart's broken. You just feel crushed… It's been horrible. We've all been feeling the same way since Stephen passed. Mentally I'm absolutely exhausted."
Filming their 2010 tribute video, Gave It All Away, was equally harrowing, especially as Stephen's vocals were on the song.
"The video day was horrible – absolutely horrible – and even in the finished version you'll see us all crying," Shane said.
"The concept was that we were writing our last letters to Steo. At times I was laughing because it brought back great memories but sometimes I couldn't take it. I'd just break down and I had to get out."
Over the last decade their wounds slowly began to heal. But last year Boyzone announced their retirement, with Ronan admitted it had never been the same without Stephen.
"Losing Stephen in 2009, for me, it's never felt right since then," he said, revealing, "the rest of the boys feel the same."
He continued: "That was probably the point where we should've called it a day. We've been on and off since then."
They've kept his memory alive though, celebrating his birthday each year and talking to him before each show.
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