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Jimmy Somerville achieved fame in the summer of 1984 as the voice of Bronski Beat, whose single "Smalltown Boy" reached number three in the UK singles chart. The song was unusual at the time as its lyrics and music video directly addressed the issue of gay life and homophobic violence. Somerville quickly became famous for his openness about his sexuality and his willingness to discuss issues such as AIDS at a time when other gay pop stars such as Elton John, Freddie Mercury and George Michael were being either ambiguous or secretive about their personal lives. Bronski Beat had three more top ten singles in the UK and their 1984 album "The Age of Consent" (the title of which highlighted discrimination against gay people) spent 53 weeks on the album chart. In 1986, Somerville scored his first number one single, this time as a member of The Communards, with a cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way". In 1988, The Communards had a top-thirty hit with "For a Friend", written about a friend of Somerville's who had died of AIDS.

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