Sunday, 21 December 2014

Transformation - from Gay Pop Group to God

Do you remember Bronkski Beat, The Communards, Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles? The Eighties,  the sounds, the attitudes and so on? 

I certainly do.  Remember "Smalltown Boy" being belted out in a 'gay club' in Swansea in the mid-eighties.  The place was packed with writhing bodies moving to the music of Bronski Beat.

No, I wasn't part of the joyful crowd.  I was a VAT officer making an out of hours visit as part of my inspection of this business.

I certainly liked the music.  Jimmy Somerville's falsetto voice and the bouncy disco backing made me a fan of this genre of such music.  Bronski became The Communards and the backbone of this band was Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles, a classically trained pianist of real talent on the keyboards.

The 80s was the time of HIV Aids for which the Gay fraternity were largely blamed.  It was a sad time for many when some notable 'stars' disappeared from the music scene because of Aids, Freddie Mercury of  'Queen' being one of the most notable.

The Communards split up.  Jimmy Somerville continues as a solo artist but although he has a devoted fan base still he is not the force he once was.  He has recently reprised "Smalltown Boy" which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNhLOfUPHa8

But what about 'the other half' of The Communards - Richard Coles, the gay pianist?

Well, he's still 'gay' but his role is now as a Church of England priest!  Quite a transformation, from pop to priesthood.  He lives with his gay civil partner, the Rev David Coles and their four dachshunds.

He seems to be a very likeable and HONEST person.  He not only moved from the pop world to priesthood but on his journey he was a Roman Catholic for some 10 years but reverted to Anglicanism about a dozen years ago.  He is certainly 'one of a kind'. He held an atheist funeral for Marjorie 'Mo' Mowlam, an outspoken MP of the late 1980s and also a Cabinet Minister in the Labour government.

I write all this because I've just seen an excellent programme on BBC1 tv about Richard Coles and found it extremely interesting and entertaining.  My one regret was that Jimmy Somerville declined an invitation to take part if this.  Still, you can't have everything I guess.

16 comments:

Snowbrush said...

I'm sure Brent would hold an atheist funeral for me. Here, too, the Anglican church has gay priests, but also has gay bishops, the Episcopal Church being more liberal than the Church of England. Most of the states here also recognize gay marriage.

PhilipH said...

As the mighty Bob Dylan sings: "Times they are a-changing" - a truism of course.

We in the UK now have the first woman bishop. Good luck to her. She will be the first of quite a few in due course. And why not? Maybe the Church would be better served if it was all-female!? The alter boys would be a lot safer ;-]

The Bug said...

What a great story! I'm an Episcopalian, so of course I approve :)

PhilipH said...

Thank you my beautiful Bug. Hope all goes wonderfully well with you and that you and Dr. Bug have a Happy New Year. xx

mohave rat said...

I remember when I heard that Freddie Mercury had died! A great voice and great person lost to the world.

All Consuming said...

I'm so glad to have heard that new version of Smalltown Boy. It's really quite moving in a way. He has a quite unique voice and I think it's a shame we don't hear him much these days. Another favourite of mine was The Communards version of 'Don't Leave me this Way', the female on the track had one hell of a voice too!
I didn't know the other chap from Bronski Beat became a priest, but I guess there's no reason he wouldn't. To me it's stranger that anyone would want to be a priest than be gay. One is actually natural behaviour for a start heh. Freddie, indeed a loss, there was another incredible talented and unique voice.
An atheist funeral. My pa wants his to be undertaken by the Humanist Society. He turned his back on his Catholic upbringing about six years after I told him I was leaving it myself. Since then he has read a great deal on all religions and has come to almost hate what they represent, the behaviour they can produce in people. Whilst on holiday not long ago, we came across a beautiful church and I said I wished to go in, because I do love the architecture, the stained glass windows, the beautiful, terrible tragedy of the statues....and he became quite angry. I am not at all religious, but perhaps I can separate the buildings from the deeds and he cannot.

You set me off there eh? *laughs. Great post Philip. Thank you. Michelle.

Shadow said...

Love the Bronkski Beat, Jimmy Somerville.... Quite a history here, interesting to know, thanks.

And a Merry Christmas to you!

PhilipH said...

Thanks MR, Michelle and Shadow for your visit & comments.

Michelle, you mentioned separating a church building from the deeds within. I too simply adore visiting old churches. I like the quietude of such buildings and wonder however they managed to create them hundreds of years ago. I used to frequent St. Olave's church in London when I worked there. Lunch and free entertainment was a relief from the work mayhem. Here's a link to what I experienced in this old church, the burial place of the womanising Samuel Pepys: http://bit.ly/16MbYVJ
Bye for now

Anonymous said...

Nicely phrased except for one thing: Rev Coles is not a classically trained pianist. He made grade 5 piano as he happily mentions several times in his rather fine autobiography "Fathomless Riches".

PhilipH said...

Anonymous: I bow to your greater knowledge. Just thought I'd heard or seen something about his prowess as a musician.
Thanks for your comment.

bazza said...

Hi Philip/ I remember this music well and I also remember the VAT inspections I had during my business years. For the most part they were very nice and helpful people and even found some money to refund to me because of overpayment!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

PhilipH said...

Yep Bazza, we were not always like the Gestapo. Cheers.

Cloudia said...

Interesting musical journey. Thanks




ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
<3

Snowbrush said...

You know, the trouble with such a person being a priest is that it will bring more people into the church. The absurdities will still be there, but more people will embrace them. Meanwhile, the really pernicious Christians will form their own churches, so, I fear, there will be a gain rather than a loss.

LL Cool Joe said...

I was, and still am a massive fan of Jimmy Somerville. I often crank out "Don't Leave Me This Way" by the Communards at the right gig, and it always fills the floor. One of my all time favourite tracks.

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