Steve Bronski, co-founder of gay pop group Bronski Beat, dies at 61


Steve Bronski, a third of influential British synth-pop group and gay pop pioneer Bronski Beat, has died aged 61. No cause of death has been revealed.

His bandmate Jimmy Somerville posted on social media: “Sad to hear that Steve Bronski has passed away. He was 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.

Small village boy

Bronski, who was a keyboardist, programmer, percussionist and acoustic guitarist, teamed up with his bandmates Larry Steinbachek and Somerville in 1983 and created one of the most iconic queer songs in musical history.

1984 Small village boy, tells the story of an alienated working-class gay teenager who, faced with prejudice and hatred at home, leaves for a new life in London. The song was a huge hit, reaching third on the UK charts, while also ranking highly internationally, reaching the top ten in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and Germany from the west.

The words of Small village boy still retain their power years later and evoke the common feelings of alienation and loneliness of many young homosexuals. “Mother will never understand why you had to leave / But the answers you seek will never be found at home / The love you need will never be found at home.”

The clip, directed by Bernard Rose, remains a classic of the time with its resolutely Queer sensibility. Somerville is featured in the video as a teenager, yearning for affection from a diver, who later attacks him with the help of his gang of skinheads. The police return Somerville to his family who do not know their son is gay. His father’s disapproval leads Somerville to pack his bags and head for London. The video was very controversial upon its release with its raw sensuality mixed with angst and nostalgia.

“We were three gays who founded a group”

In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Bronski said, “At the time, there were just three gays who got a band together. We didn’t feel like we were part of any particular movement. Of course, many years would pass later that there were more gay performers than the public would lead to believe.

All three members of the group were openly gay and politically active, and the group were unabashed activists for queer issues. Bronski, who was born Steve Forrest in Glasgow, Scotland, said Melody maker in 1984 that his family did not accept the fact that he was gay.

The title of the band’s first album Age of consent was referring to the fact that the legal age of consent for same-sex sex in the UK at the time was 21 when many other European countries lowered it to 16, on par with heterosexual relationships.

The album’s inner sleeve included notes on the age of consent for gay sex in other international countries. The notes were not included in the US release of the album.

“There is still a long way to go”

The album also includes the singles Why? and I feel the love (Medley) which both made the top ten charts in the UK. The album itself was a solid hit, peaking at number four on the UK charts.

Somerville left the band after the debut album to form the Communards with Reverend Richard Coles, but the two remaining members continued with Bronski Beat, with new singers until 1995. The band again reached the UK top ten in 1985 with their song. Hit that perfect beat.

When the group broke up, Bronski moved to Thailand for several years.

Steve Bronski reformed the group in 2016, with former member Ian Donaldson and released The age of Reason, which was a reworked version of Age of consent.

Bronski said Pennyblack Music at the time, “We should be living in the age of reason. The trans community should not live in fear and gay children should not be intimidated. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. “

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