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Disco as community, space and memorialisation: Jimmy Somerville fights AIDS in 4 albums

posted on 2023-11-15, 14:43 authored by Lucy RobinsonLucy Robinson
This chapter outlines the role and resonances of Jimmy Somerville’s career, catalogue and performance, as ways of marking a gay history, that acted acting his present, and memorialised the past. Sommerville was designated an unusual role in the music industry. He was for many officially the gayest musician the UK. He was regularly referred to as most high-profile gay pop star’ and his first band Bronski Beat were the ‘first real gay group in the history of pop’. His repertoire established the politics of a gay canon delivered through the cover version; marking gay liberation’s Sylvester’s importance, and that of Judy Garland, honouring disco and showtunes. In the fight against AIDS the remix, or cover, were themselves acts of memorialisation and awareness raising. Sommerville has left traces of disco’s importance (as sound, heritage and space) in the Hall Carpenter archives and oral history project, the music and gay press, popular accounts of the 1980s, the IBA, BFI, BBC and in the basement of Gays the Word book shop. Thus he acts as a tour guide around the variety of grass roots responses to HIV and AIDS, raising funds, awareness, campaigning, counselling and supporting friends and family.


Publication status

  • Accepted

File Version

  • Accepted version



Book title

DISCO! Music, Image, Dance.

Department affiliated with

  • History Publications


University of Sussex


Haddon M; Arabella S; Lawrence M

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