The death of Steve Strange….
Yesterday saw the news of the death of Steve Strange, former 80s New Romantic visionary and avant-garde nightclub host from a heart attack aged fifty-five.
Born Steven Harrington, he was in the thick of the London punk scene where he worked for Malcolm McClaren before forming his own band, The Moors Murderers which would go on to include Chrissie Hynde in the line-up. His striking looks landed him a role in the classic Bowie video and number one hit Ashes to Ashes, surely a forerunner to the New Romantic scene proper?
By then he had formed Visage with, amongst others, Midge Ure and released their top ten and best known song, Fade to Grey. Released on Polydor in 1980, it reached number eight in the UK and the credits for its composition continue to cause argument to this day. The song proved a springboard for two well received albums and a handful of hit singles but by 1985 the New Romantic scene had moved on and left Strange behind.
What then for a former 80s pop star to do? Strange had an eye for trends, and like punk and electronic before it, he was at the helm of the techno movement and the explosion of the club scene in Ibiza where he became a leading promoter and organiser of parties. It was a departure from his pop star status but an extension of the hedonistic lifestyle he lived so gloriously in the previous two decades.
By the start of the new century eighties revivalism was back with older, bloated and tired performers who knew no better. Worn down by years of heroin addiction, Strange suffered a nervous breakdown and was arrested for shoplifting. He made an appearance on Loose Women and was in the throes of another Visage rebrand but by 2014 his health was in decline and he died on holiday in Egypt.
Strange encapsulated the look of the New Romantics, a pretty young man, sexually carefree and a product of the times. Like David Sylvian and Boy George it is difficult to imagine them as middle-aged men. How, I wonder, must they feel as they look back on a life which was so bright, so full on, to see it, like the rest of us mere mortals, fade to grey?
Categories: The Music Lounge
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