Steve Strange, an icon and architect of classic pop, has died aged 55.
Real name Steve Harrington, Steve died died on Thursday from a heart attack while in Egypt. He had been admitted to hospital in December with breathing difficulties.
Best known for pioneering hits such as Fade To Grey, Mind Of A Toy and Night Train, Visage reformed in 2012 for new album Hearts And Knives, having originally split in 1984. Their final album Orchestral, featuring reworked versions of their music with two Czech orchestras, was released last December. In one of his final interviews to promote Orchestral, Strange said: “Visage have been so well received since we returned. It’s been phenomenal.”
Strange’s final public appearance was at the premiere of Spandau Ballet’s documentary Soul Boys Of The Western World at London’s Royal Albert Hall last September. Saxophonist Steve Norman said: “It’s so very sad about the tragic loss of my dear friend Steve Strange. What would the ‘80s have been without him? Rest easily, Steve.” Guitarist Gary Kemp wrote after the band’s gig at San Remo in Italy: “Spandau are in tears tonight. We dedicated our performance to Steve Strange. Without him, we would never have been here. He was a maverick to the end.” Bassist Martin Kemp added: “Goodbye my dear friend. I will miss you!”
Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon said: “Steve was the leading edge of New Romantic. God bless him.” Marc Almond added: “Steve made the world a more colourful and wonderfully mad place. He was always sweet to me, way back from 1981, when I was a provincial Northerner with all the wrong clothes. He was such a nice guy.” Boy George said: “I’m heartbroken about the death of my friend. It’s so bloody sad. He was such a big part of my life.” Kevin Rowland, Kim Wilde, David Arnold, Spector singer Fred Macpherson and Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware also paid tribute on Twitter.
Strange was one of the hosts of influential London club Blitz, which was the meeting place for many New Romantic musicians. He formed Visage with Midge Ure, fellow Blitz host Rusty Egan, Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie and Magazine trio John McGeoch, Barry Adamson and Dave Formula.
Their self-titled debut album of 1980 featured Mind Of A Toy and Fade To Grey, with subsequent albums struggling to find time to get all the band’s members together in the studio. After Visage split in 1984, Strange formed Strange Cruise with former Photos singer Wendy Wu, releasing one self-titled album in 1986 before Strange moved to Ibiza to become an integral part of the island’s trance scene, hosting clubs such as Double Bass.
He took part in 2002’s Here And Now tour and published his autobiography Blitzed, in which he detailed his longterm heroin addiction, before winning BBC1 celebrity hairdressing show Celebrity Scissorhands in 2006. In 2008, Strange sang Fade To Grey in an episode of hit BBC1 drama Ashes To Ashes, having been a character in Boy George’s West End musical Taboo in 2002.
Visage reformed in 2012 with second album bassist Steve Barnacle, singer Rose Duvall and Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon.
Steve Strange on Vintage TV last year with Classic Pop’s Ian Peel, Janice Long and Mark Morris.