Steve Bronski, who co-founded 1980s synthpop group Bronski Beat, has died at the age of 61, according to his former bandmate, Jimmy Somerville.
The keyboardist formed the band with Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983 and they went on to release hits including Smalltown Boy and Why?
The trio were known for campaigning on gay rights issues and their debut album, The Age Of Consent, featured the consent age for males in various countries around the world on its inner sleeve as a protest.
Sad to hear Steve Bronski 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. Thanks for the melody Steve. Jimmy x pic.twitter.com/VfxbtZu1Nx
— Jimmy Somerville (@JimmySomerville) December 9, 2021
Somerville shared a tribute on Twitter, writing: “Sad to hear Steve Bronski 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. Thanks for the melody Steve.”
Born Steven Forrest in Glasgow, Bronski worked as a labourer and stage hand while playing bass in a country and western group before moving to London.
He shared a flat with his bandmates in Brixton, south London.
They were inspired to form a band in response to what they considered to be the era’s inoffensive and conservative take on pop music.
In 1984, they signed a recording contract with London Records after performing just nine live concerts, rejecting a deal with influential journalist and label owner Paul Morley and claiming later that he had intended to market the band based mainly on them being openly gay.
Their debut single, Smalltown Boy, about a gay teenager fleeing his hometown and family for the city, went to number three in the UK singles chart and remains a favourite among the nightclubbing community.
At the end of 1984, Bronski Beat released their debut album, titled The Age of Consent, which peaked at number four in the UK charts, and tackled themes relevant to the gay community.
They also collaborated with Soft Cell star Marc Almond in 1985 to release a hit cover of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love.
Somerville later left to form pop group The Communards with Reverend Richard Coles.
He was replaced by John Foster and later Jonathan Hellyer.
Bronski revived the band in 2016 with one-time 1990s member Ian Donaldson to record a reworked version of their debut album, this time titled Age Of Reason.
Steinbachek died from cancer at the age of 56 in late 2016.