Steve Bronski, co-founder of the British synthpop trio Bronski Beat, died this week at 61.
Further details were not immediately available, but his old bandmate Jimmy Somerville, 60, who bolted the group in 1985, took to social media to remember him, writing:
"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."
Bronski was born Steve Forrest in 1960 in Glasgow. In 1983, he formed Bronski Beat with his friend Larry Steinbachek and vocalist Jimmy Somerville, whose soaring falsetto became the group's signature, along with the fact that its members were openly gay — unheard of on the teen-pop scene at the time.
The Age of Consent, Bronski Beat's debut album, provided the differences between the age of consent for gay vs. straight sex around the world, a shocking side-by-side that laid the groundwork for the band's queer-activist approach to pop.
Bronski played keyboard on the band's signature hit, "Smalltown Boy," which climbed to #3 in the UK but only managed to hit #48 in the U.S., where is was a #1 dance smash.
Other hits included "Why?" (#6 U.K.), "It Ain't Necessarily So" (#16 U.K., #27 U.S. dance) and "I Feel Love/Johnny Remember Me" (#3 U.K.), the latter a duet with Marc Almond.
After Somerville split Bronski Beat continued with the 1985 album Truthdare Doubledare and the hits "Hit That Perfect Beat" (#7 U.K.) and "C'mon! C'mon!" (#20 U.K., #17 U.S. dance), which in 1986 became the band's last significant dent in the charts until 1991, when remixes of "Smalltown Boy" (#32) and "Run from Love" (#52 U.K.), each featuring Somerville's original vocals, were released.
Though it did not chart, the band's team-up with Eartha Kitt on the camp "Cha Cha Heels" in 1989 is fondly remembered and was a gay-club staple.
A third album, Rainbow Nation in 1995, failed to recapture previous glory, and a 2016 reunion (not including Somerville) was marred when Steinbachek died of cancer.
In 2017, Bronski released The Age of Reason, seen as a sort of reinvention of The Age of Consent.