Bronski Beat star Steve Bronski dies aged 61: Singer Jimmy Somerville reveals his bandmate – who co-founded the 80s band – has passed away as he pays tribute to ‘a talented and very melodic man’
- The Scottish musician, who was born Steve Forrest in Glasgow , co-founded the 80s synth pop group with Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983
- They would enjoy a string of top 40 hits during the early years of that decade, among them I Feel Love and iconic gay anthem Smalltown Boy
- Bronski, Somerville and Steinbachek were tireless campaigners on gay rights issues at a time when society was less accepting of homosexuality and reflected their messages in their music
- Debut album The Age Of Consent, released in 1984, was a direct reference to the contrasting legal ages for gay and straight sex in the United Kingdom before rereleasing tracks in 1994
- Bronski’s death follows the passing of bandmate Steinbachek, who died of cancer in 2016, aged 56
Bronski Beat star Steve Bronski has passed away at the age of 61, his former bandmate Jimmy Somerville confirmed in an emotional Instagram post shared on Thursday.
The Scottish musician, born Steve Forrest in Glasgow, was deemed a gay icon when he co-founded the 80s synth pop group with Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983.
The esteemed group would enjoy a string of top 40 hits during the early years of that decade, among them a cover of Donna Summer’s disco classic I Feel Love and iconic gay anthem Smalltown Boy.
Bronski’s death, the cause of which was yet to be confirmed at time of publication, follows the passing of bandmate Steinbachek, who died of cancer in 2016 aged 56.
Tragic: Bronski Beat star Steve Bronski has passed away at the age of 61, former bandmate Jimmy Somerville confirmed on Thursday (L-R: Larry Steinbachek, Jimmy Somerville and Steve Bronski)
Confirming Bronski’s death in an Instagram post, Somerville, 60, penned: ‘Sad to hear Steve has died. He was a talented and a very melodic man. Working with him on songs and the one song that changed our lives and touched so many other lives, was a fun and exciting time.’
His friend Josephine Samuel told BBC News he was a “gentle, kind and talented man”.
Fans soon echoed the heartache, with floods of tributes pouring in on social media, with Twitter users writing: ‘No way…. 61 that’s no age. R. I. P. STEVE BRONSKI aka Jimmy Somerville…
‘Hit that perfect beat boy. RIP Steve Bronski Confused face… Very saddened to hear of Steve Bronski’s death. Steve, Larry and @JimmySomerville created #smalltownboy a true masterpiece and anthem of an era, which changed my life forever. RIP…
Farewell: Bronski in an undated, recent social media photo. The exact cause of his death is yet to be confirmed
Opening up: Discussing the band’s impact on gay rights in an interview with The Guardian , Bronski admitted it was never their intention to do anything more than make music (pictured in 2014)
Reaching out: Fans were left devastated and took to Twitter to honour the late star
BRONSKI BEAT: The Hits
1984: SMALL TOWN BOY
Their debut song soared to UK No.3 and became a gay anthem about a gay teen fleeing his family and home.
Follow-up Why? peaked at UK No.6 and was more lyrically focused on anti-gay prejudice.
1984: IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO
Their third single was a resurrection of the George and Ira Gershwin classic and reached the UK Top 20.
1985: I FEEL LOVE
Their Donna Summer cover was a roaring success and went to No.3.
1985: HIT THAT PERFECT BEAT
Their first song with Jimmy Somerville, soared to UK No.3.
1995: TELL ME WHY ’94 AND SMALLTOWN BOY ’94
2007: STRANGER TO NONE
‘Sorry to hear that Steve Bronski, co-founder and keyboard player in Bronski Beat has died at the age of 61. I first saw them play at The Fridge above the gas showroom in Brixton in 1984. #RIP Steve and love @JimmySomerville…
‘If you’ve ever sung or danced to ‘Smalltown Boy’ raise a glass to Steve Bronski tonight. A powerful and groundbreaking anthem from Bronski Beat…. Sad to hear about the passing of Steve Broski, founding member of the British synth-pop trio Bronski Beat…
‘Gutted – those closest to me will know how important #bronskibeat have been in my life. Steve escaped his poverty-stricken roots to become a huge trailblazer for gay awareness as well as an incredibly gifted musician – his songs will live on forever. RIP…
‘RIP Steve Bronski. Imagine being the keyboardist on Smalltown Boy! Haunting, decade defining music.One of my ten fave tunes.
‘The album wasn’t bad either… It’s probably difficult for a lot of youngsters to understand just how exciting and radical bands such as Bronski Beat were in the 1980s. ‘Smalltown Boy’ is a stone cold classic and it’s sad to learn that Steve Bronski has died at just 61…
‘Gosh !! Really sad today the haunting high toned voice of Steve Bronski is no more !! Just heard on the news he passed away today !! What a Lovely voice !! We are all so sad, RIP u great guy.’
The musician was raised on Glasgow council estate Castlemilk, where he worked as a building labourer before moving to London in 1983, where he eventually shared a Brixton flat with his bandmates.
He would meet Steinbachek and Somerville through their involvement in the documentary Framed Youth – Revenge of the Teenage Perverts, made specifically for an LGBTQ arts festival.
Their debut single, Smalltown Boy, quickly became one of the decade’s defining tracks, climbing to number three in the UK chart and turning the band into household names.
Ahead of its time, the song’s lyrics focused on the homophobia and social alienation experienced by a young gay man who is forced to move away because of his sexuality.
The accompanying video featured lead vocalist Somerville being chased by a gang of homophobic men before being arrested and eventually disowned by his parents.
Bronski, Somerville and Steinbachek were tireless campaigners on gay rights issues at a time when society was less accepting of homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic had decimated the gay community.
Old times: The Scottish musician, who was born Steve Forrest in Glasgow, co-founded the 80s synth pop group with Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983
Iconic: (L-R) Jimmy Somerville Larry Steinbachek And Steve Bronski at the height of their fame in 1985
Debut album The Age Of Consent, released in 1984, was a direct reference to the contrasting legal ages for gay and straight sex, while its inner-sleeve featured the various consent ages for men in countries across the world.
Discussing the band’s impact on gay rights in an interview with The Guardian, Bronski admitted it was never their intention to do anything more than make music.
He said: ‘At the time we were just three gay guys who started a band – we didn’t feel like part of any particular movement. Of course, it would transpire many years later that there were more gay artists than the public were led to believe.’
All change: (L-R) Larry Steinbachek, Steve Bronski and John Foster, who replaced Somerville following his departure from the band in 1985
Tribute: ‘Sad to hear Steve has died. He was a talented and a very melodic man,’ Somerville wrote in an Instagram post confirming his former bandmate’s death
Somerville eventually left Bronski Beat to form The Communards in 1985, but he would be replaced by John Foster before the band scored another top ten hit with Hit That Perfect Beat later that year.
They remained together until 1995, returning briefly in 2017 with their first album in 22 years, The Age Of Reason.
Speaking about his reasons for coming back with the songe, he told Pennyblack Music: ‘We should be living in an age of reason. The trans community should not live in fear, and gay kids should not be bullied. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.’
Ahead of their time: Bronski, Somerville and Steinbachek were tireless campaigners on gay rights issues at a time when society was less accepting of homosexuality
Bronski remained heavily involved in music following the band’s original disbandment, remixing the song Stranger to None by the band All Living Fear in 2007. He also worked with Darryl Pandy, Jayne County and members of Strawberry Switchblade.
He also remixed the track Flowers in the Morning by Electrobronze in 2007, while also working with vocalist Jessica James (aka Barbara Bush).
In his post-fame life, he spent most of the Noughties living in Thailand.
In the picture: (L-R) Bronski Beat stars John Foster, Larry Steinbachek and Steve Bronski
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