'Nobody should have an affair' - Ronan Keating

By Matthew Stadlen

Ronan Keating is in love again, but he still regrets the end to his first marriage, he tells Matthew Stadlen.
Ronan Keating and Storm Uechtritz married last year. Photo / AP
Ronan Keating and Storm Uechtritz married last year. Photo / AP

Ronan Keating isn't someone you'd imagine has struggled with confidence issues. There are the 45 million records he's helped to sell; the enduring boyband good looks; and the easy Irish charm.

There's also the fact that he entered the Guinness Book of Records in 2007 as the first artist to achieve 30 consecutive top 10 UK singles. So it's somewhat surprising when the Boyzone singer insists: "I've always been quite an insecure person."

Then again, this blond son of a truck driver and a hairdresser from Dublin is not the unreflective type, and when we meet for a hot drink at Grind Coffee Bar, the elegant cafe he co-owns in Putney, southwest London, he's in introspective mode, touchingly honest and open about the vicissitudes of his 38 years.

He is, it seems, in a good place right now. Not just musically - he's launching what he calls a coming-of-age album - but romantically, too. The headlines that followed his 2009 affair with a Boyzone backing singer when he was married to Yvonne Connolly, the mother of his three children, have been replaced by stories of new nuptials, this time to the Australian TV producer Storm Uechtritz.

"I'm happier than I've ever been," he says. "Storm makes me feel secure. It's very refreshing." Keating's son Jack, 16, and his daughters Missy, 14, and Ali, 10, are at school in Dublin and live with their mother, but although he is London-based, he sees them every other weekend.

"I'm hands on," he says.

"We have conversations about what we've come through as a family. I'm a good dad. I'm proud of that."

He first introduced his children to Storm in Australia, where the couple initially became friends on the set of the Australian X Factor in 2010. "They love her."

It's hard, of course, not to feel for his ex-wife, Yvonne. Does he feel guilty about the affair?

"Nobody should have an affair," he says.

"If you're man enough to have the balls to go home and say, 'Sorry, this isn't working any more', that's the ideal situation, isn't it? But we're weak. We don't do that. So yes, I hurt people and I am sorry for that hurt, but the outcome is that I found Storm and I'm very grateful. But I'm saying I'm sorry."

Ronan Keating had an affair with a backing singer when still married to Yvonne Keating. Photo / Getty Images
Ronan Keating had an affair with a backing singer when still married to Yvonne Keating. Photo / Getty Images

Losing his mother to cancer when she was 51 and he was 20 hit Keating hard.

She had lived to see his teenage success with Boyzone, but when she died, he lost his "rock".

"I lost my way and got married very young. I looked for that figure in my life, I needed somebody," he says.

Keating is the youngest of five, but before he was 10 his elder siblings began emigrating from Ireland. "I sat in Dublin airport and watched them all leave," he says. "It was heartbreaking."

His brother Gerard had taken up an athletics scholarship in the US and it was Ronan's dream to follow him into the sport. He was crowned national 200m champion at under 13 and 14 levels but, after juggling Boyzone and education, he left school just months before his final exams.

During the early years he would fly home every evening after commitments in London and take the early morning flight back the next day.

It was an exciting time, but he is not without regrets.

"We were catapulted into fame - five-star hotels, private planes," he says. "It was brilliant, but there was no one to guide us, we were just let loose."

There was a lot of drinking, he says, but no drugs.

"I think we were all scared - Catholic guilt wouldn't allow us. But in Ireland when you're growing up, it's just expected of you to drink early. I'm not saying it's right, but there's a lot of it." Despite topping the charts with songs including Words and All That I Need, Boyzone agreed on a hiatus at the turn of the millennium, which then became a split at the insistence of Keating, who had found success as a solo artist. Boyzone regrouped in 2007.

The next three years, says Keating, were their best. Then, in 2009, Stephen Gately, who had been joint frontman with Keating, died suddenly of pulmonary oedema in Majorca. He was 33.

Next year will be the band's 25th anniversary and, despite the absence of their fifth member, it will not go unmarked.

"Whether it's shows or an album or a reflection on it, we'll do something," says Keating.

For all their success, Boyzone lag behind Take That in record sales. So who's better? "Take That are better. The songs are better," says Keating.

Now with a new label, he feels like an artist for the first time; released, as he sees it, from the pop conveyor belt. Life is a roller-coaster, he once infamously sang. If so, he's definitely on a peak at the moment.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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