visage lead singer steve strange passes away
The singer, and one of the leaders of the New Romantic movement, has died of a heart attack. i-D's Princess Julia shares her memories.
i-D are sad to learn of the passing of Steve Strange, Visage's lead singer and one of the most prominent members of the New Romantic movement. Strange, who counted Boy George, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet as pop contemporaries, is reported to have died of a heart attack in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt at the age of 55.
As well as being a singer for synthpop group Visage, whose biggest anthem was Fade to Grey, the Welshman was a prominent club promoter at the Blitz Club and The Camden Palace in London and later at trance parties in Ibiza. Tributes have poured in from across the cultural world, including Simon Le Bon, Kim Wilde and Marc Almond. And our own Princess Julia, who shares her reflections and memories on Steve below.
"Steve Strange was a true eccentric... back in the late 70s our paths crossed and a friendship flourished. From the end of punk to the days of the new romantics, through a myriad of club nights and adventures we kept in touch through the decades. We shared a flat on the Kings Road at one point, Steve had a collection of Pierrot dolls piled on a chair, he was obsessed with them. Each week he'd try out new looks and ask me for a verdict, of course he got more and more over the top trying to outdo his last look. Steve Strange along with dj, drummer and music producer Rusty Egan is credited with changing the club scene and creating a safe haven for us to experiment with style, gender, art and music. I was part of that and the people who gravitated towards our hallowed one-nighter at the Blitz made it a creative hub that is still being referenced to this day.
Towards the end of the Blitz, Steve was getting busy with Visage, recording, and enjoying his notoriety in the press. I sometimes went with him on these recording sessions, the stuff that was coming out was amazing. Although it was a studio project for Midge and Rusty, Steve had always hankered for a successful music career and was the perfect frontman. His previous band The Photons was short lived, I saw a gig they did in Covent Garden, Chrissie Hynde was in the line up! Steve was full of ideas and a video was planned for the single Fade To Grey. Although I didn't actually speak the French vocal part on the recorded version, it was a girlfriend of Rusty's, Steve asked me to mime the part for the video. I arrived at the studio with a bit of a hangover with Steve. Richard Shara did the make up and directors and pop stars in their own right Godley and Creme produced the video on the most high tech equipment of the day. The video was recorded straight onto a monitor set up in another part of the studio, evolving as we went along, the video although simplistic felt quite ground breaking.
Steve's visionary insight never left him, he was funny and charming but most of all inspiring. He took life on the chin with humour and insight and of course always dressed up to the nines!"
Photography Graham Smith.
i-D, Issue No. 2, 1980