Boyzone's Ronan Keating

Singer/songwriter Ronan Keating is lead singer of Irish boy group Boyzone, who have had a number of big hits in the UK.

Ronan Patrick John Keating was born March 3, 1977, in Dublin, Ireland. Keating began writing pop songs in secondary school and sang in a band called Nameste. He also worked as a shoe salesman.

In 1993 Keating won a slot in Boyzone after auditioning for manager Louis Welch, who aimed to create an Irish version of Take That, Britain's successful boy band. Welch also chose Shane Lynch, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham and Keith Duffy for the lineup.

Welch groomed the quintet to excel in vocal harmonies and synchronized dancing. Boyzone were signed by Polydor Ireland and had a local hit with a cover of the Spinners' 1980 hit "Working My Way Back to You."

Boyzone, specializing in dance-pop and ballads, broke onto the UK charts in 1995 with their #2 version of the Osmonds' 1974 British #1 "Love for a Reason." They also scored that year in Britain with "Key to My Life," "So Good" and a #2 cover of Cat Stevens' "Father and Son." Boyzone also topped the UK album chart with Said and Done. The group began doing TV ads for cereal, and Keating was signed to promote Cadbury's Creme Egg.

In 1996 Boyzone had more UK hits with "Coming Home Now" and a cover of the Bee Gees' 1968 smash "Words." Boyzone topped the LP chart again with A Different Beat, featuring the chart-topping title cut. Their popularity was at its peak in Britain, helped by reigning boy band Take That's dissolution.

The following year, Boyzone had a #2 double-sided hit with "Shooting Star" and a version of Tracy Chapman's "Baby Can I Hold You."

Where We Belong (1998), mostly written by the band, became the group's third consecutive LP to top the UK chart in its debut week. They also topped the singles chart with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman's "No Matter What" (RealAudio excerpt), from the composers' musical "Whistle Down the Wind." The single earned Boyzone the distinction of being the first act in British chart history to debut in the top five with their first 12 chart entries. Also in 1998, Keating hosted the first German "Top of the Pops," and Boyzone sang backing vocals on U2's "The Sweetest Thing." Boyzone made their U.S. debut that year with a version of Where We Belong and a promotional tour.

Last year, Boyzone gave two charity concerts for the victims of the Omagh, Ireland, bombing tragedy. Keating issued his solo debut single, "When You Say Nothing at All," from the movie "Notting Hill," starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Its video was directed by Kevin Godley. Keating also began co-managing new Irish boy band Westside.

Other birthdays on Friday: Willie Chambers (Chambers Brothers), 62; Mike Pender (Searchers), 58; Jance Garfat (Dr. Hook), 56; Re Styles (Tubes), 50; Robyn Hitchcock, 47; Chris Hughes (Adam & the Ants), 46; John Bigham (Fishbone), 41; and Tone-Loc, 34.