Visage lead singer Steve Strange dies aged 55

13th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Steve Strange, the flamboyant lead singer of British pop band Visage who shot to fame with 1980s synthpop hit "Fade to Grey", has died aged 55, his record label said Thursday.

Known as a pioneer of the New Romantic movement, Strange suffered a fatal heart attack in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on Thursday.

"Steve died in his sleep of heart failure," said Marc Green, label manager at August Day Recordings.

"Steve's family, band members and friends are all distraught at this sudden news of his untimely death."

Born Steven John Harrington in southeast Wales, Strange was drawn into the music industry after attending a Sex Pistols concert in 1976.

Aged 15, he went to work for Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, and was later nicknamed the "Peacock Prince".

He went on to set up The Blitz Club in the London entertainment district of Soho, which became a focal point of the New Romantic movement of the early 1980s influenced by British music legend David Bowie and associated with synthesizers and eccentric fashion.

A young Boy George worked in its cloakroom and his band Culture Club got their start in the club before rising to fame, along with some of the era's biggest British groups: Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet.

"I remember David Bowie coming to the club because he had heard how bizarre it was," Strange told the Independent newspaper in 2000.

"It was about showing your creative side, and about showing that you'd taken time and effort in what you had created.

"It was about classic style and being outrageous, but done with an element of taste."

Formed in 1979, his band Visage had a breakthrough record with "Fade To Grey" which topped charts in several countries, and released two successful albums.

But a years-long addiction to heroin began after Strange sniffed a line of the drug after modelling at a Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris in 1985, thinking it was cocaine.

He described it years later as "the worst mistake that I ever made in my life".

Difficult times followed for Strange as he struggled with health problems and declining wealth, and he was convicted of shoplifting a child's toy and cosmetics in 2000.

In tributes posted on Twitter on Thursday, Boy George said he was "heartbroken" at the news, while Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon described Strange as the "leading edge of New Romantic".

"I'm so grateful that life brought Steve and I together, he was funny, great company and completely bonkers," pop star Kim Wilde told the BBC.

More recently, Strange released a new album with Visage in 2013, and recorded a classical interpretation of "Fade To Grey" last year.


© 2015 AFP

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