Ronan Keating – from Boyzone to Barnes
Ronan Keating – from Boyzone to Barnes
Ronan Keating chats exclusively with Angela Sara West about his glittering career, commitment to charity, finding inspiration in Barnes, golfing in Surrey, and his special Christmas message for YOU!
He’s performed for Prince Charles, sung for the Pope, grilled Stormzy and collaborated with Kylie… “I’ve been lucky,” Ronan Keating tells me on his way home from his early morning radio show. “I’ve sung with some amazing people, from Elton John, LeAnn Rimes and Pavarotti, to Cat Stevens, Lulu and Burt Bacharach… the collaborations I’ve had over the years have been amazing!”
The singer-songwriter shot to stardom at sweet 16, belting out hit-after-hit as the youngest member of multi-platinum selling boyband Boyzone, who hit the UK No.1 spot an impressive six times, sold a staggering 25 million records and toured the world. The highlight of his celebrated career? “My longevity. To still be here 27 years later is a great honour,” he reveals. “I think that’s the greatest goal, to have longevity in this business, and still be getting away with it, so I’m happy about that!”
Since going solo, he’s gone from strength-to-strength, selling over 22m records, having gained global recognition when his chart-topping single, When You Say Nothing at All, featured in the hit film Notting Hill.
A man of many hits… and hats!
And it’s not just his singing career that’s brought the Dublin-born star success… Ronan’s diversified, dabbling in acting and other areas, too. “I think you have to,” he says. “It’s important for your profile to stay out there. You have to do lots of things now, go on cookery shows and all sorts, to let people know that your album is out!”
Having carved a career spanning almost three decades, the multi-talented musician’s also made his mark as a mentor, actor and high-profile presenter. Alongside spells as a judge down under on The X Factor and The Voice Australia, the multi-award-winning star’s stints have seen highly-acclaimed stage performances in London’s West End hit musical Once since going solo, too. “It’s been 20 brilliant, mad years,” Ronan tells me. “I feel really blessed to still be here and still doing it.”
A bestselling, record-breaking artist
The secret to his success in such a tough industry? “I’m not afraid to work,” he explains. “In this game, you have to graft constantly, so, I’ve worked tirelessly, all the time. And I enjoy it… I’m not complaining, I love what I do!”
“There are lots of more talented people out there than me,” Ronan modestly admits. “But I think there are a lot of different elements that allow somebody to get to where I’ve got to after 20 years.”
It’s record-breaking Disney Magic!
Bringing breakfast show entertainment to the nation with his morning radio show on Magic FM with co-host Harriet Scott, how did it feel to achieve the highest-ever ratings in Magic’s history? “Amazing!! It’s such a fun show… We love what we do and speaking with our listeners and hearing what people think. I never imagined I’d do radio like this, especially breakfast radio… I lived the other lifestyle, going to bed at 4-5am, not getting up at that time! I love it, it’s great fun.”
A few of his fave guests? “We had Stormzy on, which was quite unique for Magic. Mark Wahlberg was pretty cool, Kylie Minogue’s wonderful… we get a real mixed bag, it’s great!”
He’s now working weekends, too, having hooked up with Disney+ for a brand new Saturday afternoon show on the station, filling us in on his family’s favourites Disney films.
Old & new tunes for Twenty Twenty
Ronan could be one of very few people celebrating 2020, but his new album does just that! A magnificent mix of old and new tracks, Twenty Twenty commemorates 20 years since his first phenomenally-successful, eponymous debut solo album, Ronan.
He describes Twenty Twenty as “a greatest hits of brand-new music”. “There are three songs I’ve readdressed; When You Say Nothing At All, Life Is a Rollercoaster and Lovin’ Each Day. Those songs are kind of career records that stand the test of time and are still with me today. And I’m here today because of those songs. So, I just thought I’d kind of give them a new, 2020 flavour.”
Reworking a few old favourites, he called in famous friends to add their creative juices. “Robbie Williams, Shania Twain, Emeli Sandé, Nina Nesbitt… some of my favourite artists are on there… I got to sing with them and I’m very proud of that. Having Alison Krauss sing on When You Say Nothing At All, and Ed Sheeran play guitar over it, it’s just phenomenal… a great honour.”
In tune with other talents
Ronan and Robbie, of course, go back a long way, and duetted on a touching ‘Twenty Twenty’ tribute track to Ronan’s late Boyzone bandmate Stephen Gately. “It was lovely to work with Rob. I love his work, he works very hard, he’s a great artist and great fun,” says Ronan. “Rob reached out to me last October, the 10-year anniversary of Stephen Gately’s death, to say he’d forgotten he’d written this song, The Big Goodbye, about Stephen’s passing. It’s been a very moving, emotional rollercoaster, the whole thing, to be honest, but a great honour to have this on the album and to sing it with Robbie.”
Barnes – top of Ronan’s charts
Before buying an abode in Barnes, the broadcaster had already found the area a source of inspiration for his music. “There was a studio in Barnes, called The Olympic (now the cinema), and I wrote and recorded a lot of albums there. So, I spent a lot of time around Barnes even before I lived there, working and recording and writing, and we just loved the area, the community, and even though you’re close to town (London), you’ve got that village feel.”
“Storm and I love Barnes. It’s a gorgeous neighbourhood, with great restaurants, cinema, pubs… The Red Lion, The Brown Dog… so many.”
His top restaurant there? “Riva’s our favourite, and we’ll be back soon for lunch or dinner, we love it so much!”
A Putney caffeine fix!
With a penchant for Putney, too, he and wife Storm are partners in popular coffee pitstop, Ground Coffee Society. “We’re involved in the GCS coffee shop at 79 Lower Richmond Road, so we head there every now and again,” Ronan reveals. “I like that village feel, and being on the river is gorgeous, especially in the summertime, and the pubs are right on the river… It’s really lovely… we love that lifestyle.”
Richmond also rocks for Ronan. “Pre-kids, we went running in Richmond Park a lot. Now, we regularly take the kids for walks along the river, which is a lovely thing to do. It’s a great lifestyle, a great way of life there…”
Teeing off in Surrey…
Before Barnes, Ronan resided in Esher, where life in Surrey proved another huge hit for the singer. “It’s fabulous… a beautiful leafy suburb, gorgeous countryside, great restaurants, golf courses, lovely people… a great place to live!”
With more courses than you can swing a club at, Surrey serves as a golfer’s paradise for fans of the sport, including singing sensation Ronan. “I LOVE playing golf, and I LOVE Wentworth… one of my favourite courses. There are so many fantastic courses in the county…. Sunningdale, private golf courses… it’s a pleasure to play them. They’re some of the best in the UK, if not Europe.”
The former Boyzone singer enjoys a good green round with ex-bandmate Keith Duffy, and reveals taking clubs on the road is par for the course. “Keith and I get out there every now and then, and ALWAYS bring our golf bags on tour!” He also has a golf buddy in Brian McFadden, formerly of Westlife fame, the band Ronan co-managed. The pair have also played with a golf legend. “We played with Gary Player at Wentworth for charity.”
So, what does Ronan miss most about his boyband days? “The lads… the camaraderie on the road, the friendship, you know… I do miss the boys…”
A lockdown baby!
Now a doting dad to five children (Ronan has three children with first wife, Yvonne), his and Storm’s second child, baby Coco, came along just four days into the first lockdown. “It was nice to be able to concentrate on being there at home. I’ve never spent that much time in one place in my life; I left home at 16, so to be there for every nappy change, bathtime, bedtime, every waking morning… it was gorgeous, really lovely, very special.”
How did he look after his mental health during the first drawn-out lockdown? “Being around the ones you love makes life okay, much easier… My wife and children communicating and going through our daily lives together, we came through it.”
Did the family man find himself being particularly creative? “I did write a lot, but to be honest, I was so busy I didn’t stop… doing my radio show from home, promoting my new album through Zoom interviews and Instagram… I think, that was good for the head, too.”
And music, of course, can help massively with mental health. “Very much…” agrees the musician. “It’s an outlet… a great way of dealing with your emotions, speaking out about how you’re feeling… really important for mental health.”
A passionate philanthropic performer
From climbing Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, to swimming the Irish Sea, the big-hearted singer’s achieved amazing things in the name of charity. And there’s one particular cause very close to his heart… “I set up the Marie Keating Foundation with my family 23 years ago, after our mum passed away from cancer,” he explains. “We’ve worked on that tirelessly… It’s been a tough year for charities to fundraise, because of Covid.”
As the Foundation’s Patron, the prolific philanthropist’s proud to have pulled off the TV benefit gig ‘Concert4Cancer’ this summer, featuring Gary Barlow, Brian Kennedy, The Coronas and Kodaline. “We raised half a million… it was phenomenal!”
Emeralds & Ivy charity ball
Donning their glad rags, Ronan and Storm usually hold an annual Emeralds & Ivy Ball in aid of the Marie Keating Foundation and in partnership with Cancer Research UK. “We’ve hosted it for 13 years now and raised over £11m, which goes to our mobile units travelling around the country, giving a free service to people. They’re back out on the road now, which is fantastic because we feel there’s going to be a huge spike now in cancer patients, as people haven’t been able to go to hospitals and be checked and diagnosed. So, it’s really important and we can deal with this… and we’re out there trying to help people.”
Previously held in Battersea’s iconic power station, Evolution and Supernova, the spectacular star-studded event’s seen sensational sets from Leona Lewis, Simple Minds, M People’s Heather Small, The Saturdays and Diversity. Guests who’ve glammed up for the glitzy A-list gala night include Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster, Jon Bon Jovi, Jamie Oliver, Dougray Scott, Jodie Kidd, Christine Bleakley and Frank Lampard, Vanessa Feltz, Rebecca Adlington, Sir Chris Hoy, Damon Hill, Nadine Coyle and Mike and Zara Tindall.
Take a Moment for Mind…
Alongside Tom Jones, Sharon Osbourne, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, and Helena Bonham Carter, Ronan recently took ‘A Moment for Mind’, the @takeamoment4mind campaign instigated by renowned Richmond-based photographer, Ray Burmiston.
“Storm and I are ambassadors for a few charities, too, and I’m meeting today with the StrongMen charity, which deals with something I feel very passionate about,” he reveals. “It assists men dealing with bereavement, and it deals with mental health. Men find it hard to talk, and suffer with depression greatly…”
A Loose Man & Celebrity Juicing!
Along with his much-loved stints on ‘The One Show’ sofa, Ronan recently became a ‘Loose Man’ for the day, alongside Marvin Humes, Iain Stirling and Roman Kemp, as popular ITV lunchtime show ‘Loose Women’ rebranded for one day and one day only for the first time in its 21-year history.
Welcoming its first all-male panel to mark International Men’s Day, the ‘Loose Men’ changed the conversation, inspiring fellow males to talk about their feelings and not keep things bottled up.
“It was great to go on the show with the other lads and start the conversation to hopefully get men talking about mental health issues,” says Ronan. “I see Dan, my therapist, whenever I’m feeling fragile and need help with my mental health, whether I’m overstressed from working too hard, or it’s a certain date which reminds me of something sad that’s happened, such as someone who’s passed away… It’s good to talk, and there is help out there to give men the tools they need to deal with things they are struggling with.”
Alongside sharing their own personal experiences, the Loose Men were joined by Hollywood legend Matthew McConaughey as part of the programme’s ‘Stand by Your Men’ award-winning mental health campaign ‘Lighten The Load’. With a focus on male mental health, the campaign shines a light on the importance of men asking for help if they are struggling, to tackle the issues they often shy away from talking about.
Ronan’s also let his hair down on Keith Lemon’s Celebrity Juice lately. “It’s SO much fun to be on. At a time like this, where everything is so sanitised, literally, we need a show like that…”
An Ode to the Postie – letterbox love!
To celebrate the nation’s deliverers, he’s just joined forces with Notonthehighstreet to launch a nationwide search for Britain’s best-loved postmen and women. Ronan’s recited a special ‘thank you’ poem for posties, who have played a key part in keeping the nation feeling connected during lockdown, bringing us joy and keeping us smiling through.
Ronan’s request? “For many, mailmen and women provide an invaluable lifeline and are the highlight of their day, helping to combat loneliness. #TheMagicOfSmallThings campaign wants the nation to nominate and surprise its favourite postie. Head over to www.notonthehighstreet.com/thank-your-postie to find out more!”
Magic makes #ChristmasNow!
Following such a strange year, Magic FM’s festive initiative sees Ronan and Harriett on a mission to make ‘Christmas Now’. His festive tree went up in October! “Stormy had the colours picked already… she’s fantastically detailed like that.”
How will he be spending Christmas? “I hope all my kids will be with me, so we can all be together for Christmas. We’re just waiting to see what the restrictions will be…” And, of course, it’s Coco’s first Christmas. “Their first is always SO special… I’m excited for her brother Coops, too… he’s three, and was already talking about his letter to Santa Claus in early November, so I’m very, very excited for Christmas this year!”
From first Christmas to ‘Last Christmas’ inspiration
The first single Ronan bought was Last Christmas by Wham! “I LOVE that song, I love Wham!, I love George Michael, and the reason I’m a singer today is because of George… he’s been my greatest influence.” The superstar singer’s also inspired by another bestselling group. “The Bee Gees. For me, Barry Gibb is the greatest songwriter of all time…”
To tour or not to tour….
How else is Ronan celebrating his milestone anniversary? “Well, I would have been on a world tour, which should have kicked off June just gone, but we’ve postponed it to next June/July. “Please God, that happens… A big part of the celebration is to tour it live. We’ll just wait and see.”
What’s in store in 2021? “The tour. I’m banking on it. We all need to get back out there and tour live, for our heads and our hearts, we just wanna get back on the road again. That’s why I do what I do, perform…
Following such a challenging year, Ronan has a very special festive message for Time & Leisure readers… “Treasure your loved ones, treasure your kids, go that extra mile and reach out to those people who really need it, people alone at Christmas, it’s going to be really hard for them… It’s been a grim year and we need to just spread the love as best we can. Health and happiness for everybody!”
Find out more…
Ronan’s new single ‘Forever Ain’t Enough’ is out now on Decca Records from his album ‘Twenty Twenty’, which charted at number 2 earlier this year.
Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzSC_oSlHuY
For further information and to sample Ronan’s new album, visit: www.ronankeating.com
Listen live to Ronan on Magic at 105.4 FM, online at https://planetradio.co.uk/magic/ or on demand via the Magic Radio app.
Ronan Keating launched the first mobile unit in the UK to target the general public with cancer prevention information highlighting how to reduce your cancer risk, and also supports the Cancer Awareness Roadshows, which tour around the UK. The Marie Keating Foundation: www.mariekeating.ie
© Angela Sara West 2020 www.angelasarawest.com
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