Photo: Twitter [@JimmySomerville]

Steve Bronski, co-founder of the iconic British synthpop band Bronski Beat, has passed away.

The Scottish singer-songwriter, birth name Steve Forrest, formed the trio in 1983 with Jimmy Somerville and Larry Steinbachek.

The following year, Bronski Beat released their influential debut album Age of Consent; a record titled to highlight the inequality of the age of consent for sexuality activity between heterosexual couples being 16, but 21 for sexual acts between two men.

Lead single Smalltown Boy remains one of the most electrifying queer anthems of all time, and Bronski Beat were a prime example of the power that music can have in challenging and highlighting social and political injustices on a huge scale.

Bronski’s death was confirmed on Thursday (9 December) by Somerville, who tweeted: “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.”

Josephine Samuel, a close friend of Bronski’s, told BBC News that he was a “gentle, kind and talented man”.

Although Somerville departed the band after Age of Consent to form The Communards, Bronski Beat continued to release albums in the 80s and 90s with various vocalists, including John Foster, and achieved two more top 10 hits in I Feel Love (Medley) with Marc Almond and Hit That Perfect Beat.

In 2016, Bronski revived the band and recorded new material with Ian Donaldson. In the same year, Steinbachek died.

A revamped version of their aforementioned debut album, titled The Age of Reason, was released in 2017 with Donaldson and Stephen Granville.

At the time, Bronski told Pennyblack Music: “We should be living in an age of reason. The trans community should not live in fear, and gay kids should not be bullied. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

Our thoughts are with Bronski’s friends and family in this difficult time.