Playing electronic instruments and singing openly gay lyrics in a shrill falsetto, this London trio burst onto a complacent music scene in 1984.
Scottish-born Jimmy Somerville had a memorably piercing voice and the band played a powerful brand of electro techno-dance music, (including a monster version of the Donna Summer hit I Feel Love).
Bronski Beat took two singles, Why? and Smalltown Boy into the Top 10 and their debut LP The Age of Consent into the Top Five.
Following Somerville’s departure in 1985, Bronski Beat drafted a character by the name of John Jon – a competent but far less distinctive singer.
While the songs continued to address gay issues, the lyrics became vague and subtle enough to be overlooked by casual listeners.
Meanwhile, Somerville formed The Communards with classically trained pianist Richard Coles, and many assumed the new group would take an even more determined political stance than the Bronskis’ gay activism.
The new group participated heavily in the Socialist Red Wedge movement but, graphics aside, you would never have known it from their records.
The first Communards release was an over-the-top remake of Don’t Leave Me This Way (a 1977 hit for Thelma Houston). The duo also released a breathless version of the Gloria Gaynor tune, Never Can Say Goodbye.
By the end of 1987, the duo had issued 34 discrete singles and EPs. The deluge continued until Somerville quit to go solo. Somerville’s first solo album maintained the non-stop modern dance momentum with catchy hi-NRG grooves and included a version of Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).
Larry Steinbachek died in December 2016 after a short battle with cancer. He was 56.
Steve Bronski (born Steve Forrest) died in December 2021, aged 61.