Jimmy Somerville

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This article is about a pop singer. For other people with this name, see James Somerville (disambiguation).
Jimmy Somerville
Jimmy Somerville in Warsaw.jpg
Concert in Warsaw, 10 June 2006
Background information
Birth name James William Somerville
Born (1961-06-22) 22 June 1961 (age 53)
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Genres Pop, synthpop, new wave, Hi-NRG
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizers
Years active 1983–present
Labels London Records
Gut Records
Associated acts Bronski Beat
The Communards
Website www.jimmysomerville.co.uk

James William "Jimmy" Somerville (born 22 June 1961) is a Scottish pop singer and songwriter. He sang in the 1980s with the pop groups Bronski Beat and The Communards, and has also had a solo career.[1] He is known in particular for his falsetto singing voice and that he was openly gay during a period of increasing socio-political debate and conflict in the UK regarding lesbian and gay rights.


In 1983, Somerville co-founded the synthpop group Bronski Beat,[2] which proceeded to have several hits in the British charts. Their biggest hit was "Smalltown Boy" which reached No. 3 in the UK charts. Somerville played the song's titular character in the music video who leaves his hostile 'straight' hometown for the friendlier city. This was a reflection of Somerville's own experience when he came to London in about 1980, and was able to enjoy the gay scene and also attend the London Gay Teenage Group.[3]

Somerville left Bronski Beat in 1985 and formed The Communards with classically trained pianist Richard Coles (now a Church of England priest and broadcaster).[4] They had several hits, including a cover version of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Don't Leave Me This Way," which spent four weeks at No. 1 in the UK charts and became the biggest-selling single of 1986 in the UK. 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, which included a hit cover of Sylvester's hi-NRG classic "You Make Me Feel" as well as a cover of the Bee Gees' hit song "To Love Somebody" a year later, Somerville left the limelight. In 1990, he contributed the song "From This Moment On" to the Cole Porter tribute album Red Hot + Blue produced by the Red Hot Organization, the proceeds from which benefited AIDS research.[citation needed]

In 1991 Somerville provided backing vocals to a track called "Why aren't you in love with me?" from the album "Ripe" by Communards offshoot band Banderas. The Banderas duo, Caroline Buckley and Sally Herbert, had previously been part of Somerville's backing band. He returned in 1995 with the album Dare to Love, which included "Heartbeat", a No. 1 hit on the US dance chart, "Hurts So Good" and "By Your Side". Another album, entitled Manage The Damage, was released in 1999 and its companion remix album, Root Beer, came out a year later. His dance-oriented fourth solo album, Home Again, was released in 2005.[citation needed]

May 2009 saw the release of Somerville's Suddenly Last Summer album, which contained acoustic interpretations of other people's songs. The album was initially only available as a digital download but in May 2010 was made available in a limited edition (3,000 copies) CD/DVD in the UK. In 2011 Somerville released a dance EP called "Bright Thing". He has also had an acting career, appearing in Sally Potter's 1992 film of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, in Isaac Julien's 1989 Looking for Langston, and in an episode of the cult science fiction television series Lexx ("Girltown").[citation needed]

2012 saw Jimmy release a set of three EP's Bright Thing, Momentum and Solent, with long term collaborator John Winfield.

June 2014 saw the 30th anniversary of Smalltown Boy. Originally released in 1984, the song addressed key issues in 1980's LGBT culture and brought homosexuality and homophobia into the pop mainstream. The song deals with loneliness, rejection, and bullying due to supposed differences. The song has been an inspiration to many people and it has also inspired many varied cover versions Dido, Jose Gonzales, and has been celebrated musically worldwide.

September 2014 saw the release of new single Back to Me followed by Travesty (or the other way around in the USA and Canada), both from the new disco album Homage. The emphasis on the recording of the new album has been on achieving the musical authenticity of original disco which Jimmy grew up with. Jimmy says 'I've finally made the disco album I always wanted to and never thought I could'.[citation needed]


Studio albums


Year Nominated work Award Category Result
1984 Framed Youth: The Revenge of the Teenage Perverts British Film Institute Grierson Award Won[5]
1991 Himself BRIT Awards Best British Male Nominated[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Walters, Barry (20 June 2000). "His beat goes on - singer Jimmy Somerville". The Advocate. Retrieved 19 April 2009. 
  2. ^ "Jimmy Somerville official biography". Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "1984. Music: Bronski Beat, Smalltown Boy | Gay in the 80's: LGBT History". Gayinthe80s.com. 2012-06-21. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  4. ^ Stanford, Peter (10 January 2010). "Revved Up: Richard Coles, a Very Modern Vicar". The Independent. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Jimmy Somerville - Awards". Internet Movie Database. IMDb. imdb.com. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "The BRITs 1991". British Record Industry Trust. BRIT Awards. brits.co.uk. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 

External links[edit]