Steve Bronski: Bronski Beat co-founder dies aged 61 | The music

Steve Bronski, founding member of the influential British synth-pop trio Bronski Beat, has died, a source close to the band has confirmed. The BBC declared to be 61 years old. No cause of death was given.

His teammate Jimmy Somerville described him as a “talented and 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.

Bronski, aka Steven Forrest, formed the band alongside Somerville and Larry Steinbachek in 1983. All three band members were gay and sought to counter what they perceived to be the harmless nature of gay artists of the time by embracing explicitly political themes in their music. American magazine Spin describes them as “perhaps the first true gay band in pop history”.

Bronski grew up in Castlemilk, Glasgow, on what he described to Smash Hits as “Europe’s biggest social housing scheme”. He left home “several times”, working as a stagehand, laborer and stock controller at Harrods, as well as playing bass in a country and western band. He moved to London in 1983. In 1984, he told Melody Maker of his frustration that his family did not recognize his sexuality.

At Bronski Beat’s first gig, at the Bell pub in King’s Cross in the autumn of 1983, they performed six songs – and received six encores. “The audience was so excited I knew something was going to happen,” Bronski told Smash Hits. “Mind you, I knew the band was going to be okay the minute I heard Jimmy sing.”

They rejected Paul Morley’s invitation to sign to his label ZTT. His “idea was to have us wear and market T-shirts that basically said we were gay, because they would have words like ‘QUEER’ or ‘POOF’ printed on them,” Somerville told Electronic Beats. (Morley signed Frankie Goes to Hollywood instead.)

Bronski Beat’s debut single, 1984’s Smalltown Boy, tells the story of a gay teenager leaving his family and prejudice in his hometown for an uncertain life in London. The inside groove of the record was engraved with the London Gay Switchboard number.

Bronski Beat: Smalltown Boy – video

It peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart and became one of the defining hits of the era and a canonical queer pop song, regularly soundtracking contemporary TV shows (Euphoria, Russell T Davies’ Cucumber) and movies (Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, French Act Up BPM drama).

The trio’s debut album The age of consent, also published in 1984, lists the ages of consent for same-sex relationships in countries around the world. The album peaked at No. 4 in the UK. In December, Bronski Beat headlined the Pits and Perverts concert at London’s Electric Ballroom to raise money for the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign, a performance depicted in the 2014 British film Pride.

Somerville left the band in the summer of 1985 due to tensions within the band. He went on to a successful career with the Communards and as a solo artist; Bronski Beat continued with new frontmen. They released two more albums, Truth action Double action (1986) and Out & About (1987), then went on hiatus until Rainbow Nation in 1995.

Bronski continued to produce and record, including collaborations with Jayne County, Darryl Pandy and members of Strawberry Switchblade. He spent much of the 2000s living in Thailand.

Steinbachek is dead in December 2016, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer.

In 2017, Bronski conducted the recording of a revamped version of The Age of Consent titled The age of Reason, with singer Stephen Granville. “We should live to the age of reason” Bronski told Pennyblack Music. “The trans community should not live in fear and gay children should not be bullied. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. »