Steve Bronski, founding member and keyboard player of synth-pop group Bronski Beat, has died, aged 61.
The musician (pictured right), born Steve Forrest in Glasgow, formed Bronski Beat in 1983 alongside vocalist Jimmy Somerville and fellow keyboard player Larry Steinbachek. The group’s members, who were all openly gay, achieved success with tracks such as their 1984 chat hit, ‘Smalltown Boy’, an anthem about a young gay man leaving his family and hometown in search of a better, freer life. The track has retained all its relevance in the decades since, remaining a staple in countless DJs’ club sets and featuring prominently in the 2017 film, 120 BPM, which told the story of AIDS activism in ‘90s Paris.
In response to news of Bronski’s death, Jimmy Somerville tweeted: “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. Thanks for the melody Steve."
Bronski Beat released their debut album, ‘The Age Of Consent’, in 1984. Another landmark single from the LP was ‘Why?’, which confronted anti-gay prejudice. In 1985, the group collaborated with Soft Cell’s Marc Almond on a cover of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’.
Following Somerville’s departure from the group after 1985, Bronski Beat went on to release three more albums, before splitting in 1995. Larry Steinbachek died in 2016 after a short battle with cancer.
Bronski reformed the group in 2016 with vocalist Stephen Granville and keyboardist Ian Donaldson. They released an expanded and re-recorded version of their debut in 2017, titled ‘The Age Of Reason. Speaking to Pennyblack Music at the time, Bronski said: “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.”
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