Steve Bronski, co-founder of Bronski Beat, has died. He was 61, according to the BBC, and no cause of death has been made public.
The Scottish keyboardist, who was born Steve Forrest, formed the synthpop trio that bore his stage name in 1983 after meeting bandmates Larry Steinbachek and Jimmy Somerville while filming a documentary for an LGBTQ arts festival. All three members of the pioneering group were openly gay and used their platform to advocate for their community both during the AIDS crisis and beyond.
Best known for their 1984 hit “Smalltown Boy,” the group’s debut album Age of Consent was released that same year. While Somerville abruptly left Bronski Beat just one year later, Bronski and Steinbachek continued recording together through much of the 1990s, rolling out 1986’s Truthdare Doubledare, 1987’s Out & About, and 1995’s Rainbow Nation before going on an indefinite break.
Following Steinbachek’s death from cancer in 2017, Bronski took up his former band’s name to unveil one more studio set, 2017’s The Age of Reason, which functioned as a reinvention of the group’s debut studio effort 23 years after it first hit shelves.
“Sad to hear Steve Bronski has died,” Somerville tweeted in memory of his former bandmate upon learning of his passing. “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.” See Somerville’s tribute below.
In June 2020, “Smalltown Boy” — Bronski Beat’s biggest and most sampled hit — was covered by Orville Peck for his Pride-themed Spotify Singles entry, just a few days shy of the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
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