Founding member of the Bronski Beat, Steve Bronski, has passed away aged 61. His cause of death is undisclosed.
Bronski formed the group with Jimmy Sommerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983 when they shared a flat in Brixton. After a handful of gigs, they were signed by London Records, and the following year, they had international success with their debut single ‘Smalltown Boy’.
The track topped the charts around Europe and landed at number three in the UK. It told the story of a gay teenager who fled home in a desperate bid for acceptance. Bronski, whose real name was Steven Forrest, later discussed his anger at his family for not accepting his sexuality during an interview with Melody Maker in 1984.
All three members of Bronski Beat were openly homosexual and showed a different side to gay people that wasn’t in the public sphere in the early ’80s. They made it their mission to tackle weighty political themes and not be innocuous, as was the norm for those from the LGBTQ+ community during that period.
The trio played a pivotal role in the ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ campaign by headlining the concert for ‘Pits and Perverts’ at London’s Electric Ballroom in 1984, which is portrayed in the BAFTA-nominated film Pride.
Somerville left the group in 1985 and enjoyed success with The Communards as well as a solo artist. Bronski Beat would eventually split in 1995, and Steve largely saw out the latter years of his life in Thailand.
Somerville paid tribute to Bronski, calling him a “talented and very melodic man,” he said, before adding: “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.”