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When Stephen met Jacko

Tragic pop star Stephen Gately fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams when he met his idol, Michael Jackson.

As our exclusive photograph reveals, the late Boyzone singer came face to face with the superstar in 1997.

Fans of the high-profile singers were left stunned when both men died a mere four months apart in 2009.

Stephen, who died last October from natural causes at the age of 33, was just 21 when he met Jackson backstage at Dublin's RDS.

The Thriller singer was in town for a sell-out gig at the Southside venue as part of his HIStory tour on July 19, 1997.

At the time, delighted boyband singer Stephen expressed his joy when manager, Louis Walsh managed to score VIP tickets to the gig.

Ambitious

The pair watched the concert backstage close to where Michael's own family were situated, with Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson also posing for a picture with the ambitious young Dubliner.

However it was the meeting with his longtime inspiration, Michael Jackson, which really left Stephen on a high.

Posing proudly here alongside his idol, Stephen looks the picture of happiness as he and Jackson smile for the cameras in front of Michael's backstage wardrobe, filled to capacity with his onstage outfits.

The picture was taken just moments after Jackson had come off stage and shows him still wearing an eye-catching gold and silver suit.

Speaking about the infamous meeting, Louis explained how he had to call in a favour in order to secure access to the backstage dressing room area.

"I did meet Michael," he explained. "But it was only for a minute at the RDS, where he was playing in 1997.

"Stephen Gately of Boyzone was one of his biggest fans, so I managed to blag us in and get a photo of the two of them together," he added.

Prior to Michael Jackson's death on June 25 last year, when he passed away after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in LA, Stephen had hoped to attend one of the star's forthcoming This Is It concerts in London.

Happiest

Stephen regularly paid tribute to the iconic singer with his music, even persuading his bandmates, Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch to record Michael's track Ben for their Boyzone's album, A Different Beat.

Prior to his sudden death, Stephen had also listed the year he was asked to present the annual Childline concert for the first time in 1999, alongside TV star, Denise Van Outen as one of his happiest memories.

The singer also performed No Matter What on stage with bandmate and friend Ronan Keating on the night.

lnolan@herald.ie


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