Steve Bronski, keyboardist and co-founder of Bronski Beat, dies at 61
Steve Bronski, co-founder and keyboardist of pioneering 1980s synth-pop band Bronski Beat, has died aged 61.
Bronski, from Glasgow, was born Steve Forrest and formed the band in 1983 with singer Jimmy Somerville and fellow musician Larry Steinbachek. They enjoyed top 10 UK hits with the gay anthem “Smalltown Boy”, “Why?” and a blanket of Donna Summer disco anthem, “I Feel Love”.
Jimi Somerville said: “Sad to hear that Steve passed away. He was a talented man and very melodic.
The singer added, “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.”
Bronski’s friend Josephine Samuel told BBC News he was a “sweet, kind and talented man”.
The group began when Bronski and Steinbachek met Somerville through a documentary titled Framed Youth – Revenge of the Teenage Perverts, made for an LGBTQ arts festival.
“Smalltown Boy”, their debut single, is now considered a synth-pop classic and reached number three on the charts when it was first released. It was especially groundbreaking for many fans who told his story of a young gay man leaving his hometown for the freedom of the big city.
The hard-hitting video showed Somerville chased by a homophobic gang, driven home by police and kicked out by his parents, before boarding the train to start a new life with Bronski and Steinbachek.
“At the time, we were just three gay people who started a band – we didn’t feel like we were part of any particular movement,” Bronski told the Guardian in 2018. .
Their first album The age of legal maturity followed in 1984. The title referred to the difference in legal ages for gay and straight sex, and the cover art listed the ages of consent for countries around the world.
“When you saw it written, the discrimination was amazing,” Somerville later said. “We printed the number of Gay Switchboards across Britain on the record sleeve and they were overwhelmed as a result.”
Somerville left to form The Communards but Bronski Beat continued, reaching the top 10 again with “Hit That Perfect Beat” in November 1985.
The band continued into the 80s and 90s and in 2017 released their first new album in 22 years, with Bronski as the only remaining original member. Steinbachek died in 2017.