JIMMY SOMERVILLE, Scottish singer born (Bronski Beat, Communards); a Scottish pop singer, born and raised in Glasgow. He had considerable success in the 1980s with the pop groups Bronski Beat and The Communards, and has also had a successful solo career. In 1983, Somerville co-founded the synth pop group Bronski Beat, who proceeded to have a number of hits in the British charts. Their biggest hit, “Smalltown Boy”, which reached #3, was considered groundbreaking because of its lyrical content regarding homophobia. Somerville played the song’s titular character in the music video, leaving his hostile hometown for the city.
Somerville left Bronski Beat in 1985, and formed The Communards with classically trained pianist Richard Coles. They had a number of hits, including a cover version of Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, which spent four weeks at #1 in the UK charts, and became the biggest-selling single of 1986 in that country. He also sang backing vocals on the Fine Young Cannibals’ version of “Suspicious Minds”, which was a UK Top 10 hit.
The Communards split in 1988 and Somerville launched his solo career. He had several solo hits between 1989 and 1991, also singing on the second Band Aid project at the end of 1989. After releasing his 1989 album Read My Lips (including a hit homage cover of Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”), along with a singles collection and cover of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” a year later, Somerville left the limelight and was absent from recording for a number of years.
He returned in 1995 with the album Dare to Love, which included “Heartbeat”, a #1 hit on the U.S. dance chart. Another album, entitled Manage The Damage, was released in 1999, and its companion remix album Root Beer came out a year later. More recently, his dance-oriented fourth solo album, Home Again, was released in 2005.