The co-founder and percussionist in 1980s synth-pop trio Bronski Beat died in a fire at his flat in London, his close friend and carer has claimed.
News of Steve Bronski’s death emerged last Thursday (December 9) when fellow band member Jimmy Somerville took to Twitter to pay tribute to his “talented” and “very melodic” bandmate.
The cause of Bronski’s death, whose real name is Steven Forrest, is yet to be officially confirmed. But Josephine Samuel, a 51-year-old gospel singer who cared for Bronski after he suffered a stroke, said he lived in a flat in Soho that was the scene of a fatal fire on Tuesday, December 7.
Ms Samuel told The Guardian she had visited the 61-year-old musician at his home on Berwick Street the day before the fire, and has since been back to lay tributes for her close friend.
She said: “Because he had suffered a stroke, it was difficult for him to get up. He died from smoke inhalation.”
Ms Samuel, who had known Bronski for 16 years, said she cared for him through a difficult time – counselling him through depression as well as helping him after his stroke.
She said: “He treated me like a sister and I treated him as an older brother. We were very close.
“I came to visit him the day before he died. His death is like a nightmare to me, because I’ve been by his side for years.”
Ms Samuel said Bronski’s death will be registered before his body is buried in Scotland where he was born.
Steve Bronski formed Bronkski Beat in 1983, along with Jimmy Somerville and Larry Steinbachek.
All three members of the band were openly gay and embraced explicitly political themes in their music.
Their 1984 debut single, Smalltown Boy, peaked at No 3 in the UK singles chart, and remains an era-defining hit to this day.
The group split in 1995 after a number of changes to the line-up, but Bronski brought the group back together in 2016. Larry Steinbachek died in 2017 after a short battle with cancer, making Somerville the last surviving original band member.
In his tribute to Steve Bronski on social media, Somerville said: “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”