Image © Brian Aris

Ultravox star and Vienna co-writer Chris Cross has died aged 71

Ultravox bass player and Vienna co-writer, Chris Cross, has died aged 71.

Cross, whose real name was Chris Allen, died on 25 March, but the announcement was only revealed last night.

Midge Ure led tributes, posting on social media: “We worked together, we played together, made music and directed videos together. We were instant friends as well as Ultravox comrades. Even after years apart we managed to pick up where we left off like the years in between never existed.”

Writing on Facebook, the singer continued: “You were the glue that held the band together. You were the logic in the madness and the madness in our lives. It was great to know and grow with you. You are loved and missed old friend.”

Keyboardist Billy Currie added: “Very sad to hear about Chris. We had some amazing times together. Laughing mostly.”

While Rusty Eagan posted: “Goodnight sleep well Chris Cross thank you for all the fun in the 80s and all the epic music…”

Memorable Music

Cross, born in London on July 14, 1952, started out with Tiger Lily in 1974. Originally completed by Currie, frontman Dennis Leigh, guitarist Stevie Shears and drummer Warren Cann, the group released one single in 1975, Ain’t Misbehavin’, a cover of the Fats Waller song.

In 1976, the collective signed with Island Records, before settling on the name Ultravox. Leigh adopted the stage name John Foxx and, in February 1977, they released their eponymous debut album.

“Art, film and music were starting to interweave more, the timing was perfect,” Cross told Classic Pop in 2020. “Dennis was the catalyst and a great instigator. The New York Dolls, Roxy, Bowie, Velvet U-Bahn [literally: Underground], Kraftwerk, Neu!, La Düsseldorf were all inspiring. The modern world was the gunpowder to our Sonic Gunpowder Plot.”

Inspiring Sounds

The group’s sophomore album Ha!-Ha!-Ha! followed in 1977, before 1978’s Systems of Romance. After Foxx’s departure, the group recruited Ure. Revitalised and signed to Chrysalis, Ultravox recorded and released their fourth studio album Vienna with the title track becoming their most commercially successful single. Kept off the top spot by John Lennon’s Woman for a week and Joe Dolce’s Shaddap You Face for a further three, Vienna would later be voted Britain’s favourite single ever to peak at No.2 on the charts in a 2012 poll by BBC Radio 2 and the Official Charts Company (OCC).

After a  string of successful albums, including Rage in Eden (1981), Quartet (1982), Monument (1983) and Lament (1984), the group went on hiatus after 1986’s U-Vox.

In 2009 the band reformed for their Return To Eden tour, and released their final album Brilliant in 2012.

Kind And Funny Man

The Ultravox Facebook page posted: “Devastating news this morning, with Midge’s announcement that Chris Allen has passed away, aged just 71. Chris was a sweet, kind and funny man who continually exuded a sense of peace and calm. He would welcome you into his home with a cup of tea, a big smile and bigger hug, and happily chat for hours about life, the universe and everything (oh and a bit of Ultravox).

“You’re never quite prepared for the loss of a childhood hero, and this hurts. Rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for the music. Thank you more for your friendship. My love and condolences to your friends and family.”
Here we take a look at the albums he created with Ultravox