Steve Strange (1959 – 2015)

Steve Strange

Born Steven John Harrington in Newbridge, Caerphilly, Wales on 28 May 1959, Steve Strange found success as a club promoter and singer, and will forever be remembered as the face of the New Romantic movement.

Not long after attending a Sex Pistols gig in 1976, Harrington formed his own punk band, The Moor Murderers, with Soo Catwoman, Chrissie Hynde, Vince Ely,  Topper Headon, and Mark Ryan. After the group disbanded, Harrington briefly fronted The Photons before assembling musicians for a new project: Visage. The newly christened Steve Strange was initially joined by Rusty Egan and Midge Ure from Rich Kids; Visage would later be completed with the addition of Barry Adamson, John McGeoch and Dave Formula from Magazine, and Ultravox keyboardist Billie Currie. The group’s first single, “Tar”, failed to chart.

In 1978, Strange began organizing club nights with Rusty Egan in London. Strict door policies were enforced, admitting only “the weird and wonderful”, which turned Blitz at Covent Garden into the epicenter of the New Romantic subculture.

Visage’s eponymous debut album and second single were released at the end of 1980; both the LP and “Fade To Grey” were very successful in the UK and Europe. Follow-up album “The Anvil” charted even higher in the UK and yielded further hit singles in 1982. However, subsequent releases with a different line-up were unable to continue the group’s success, leading to the break up of Visage in 1985.

Strange’s next endeavor was the short-lived Strange Cruise with Wendy Wu. He then resumed his club host career, working primarily in Ibiza. Following a long hiatus from performing and recording, Strange formed Visage Mk II in 2004, although the new version’s activities were minimal. Visage Mk III, featuring Strange, Steve Barnacle, Robin Simon, and Lauren Duvall, premiered in 2013 with “Hearts And Knives”, marking a welcome return to the act’s trademark synthpop sound. The new band also toured in the UK and Europe.

Sadly, Steve Strange suffered a fatal heart attack on 12 February 2015 while on holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

We Fade To Grey…

Posted on February 22, 2015, in Visage. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Tom in Portsmouth, NH

    Sometime during the summer of 1981 all of the employees at the record shop where I worked were given special invitations to a special party to be held in San Francisco that was to introduce Visage, featuring Steve Strange. I think I was the only employee who used their invitation.

    Now, mind you, this was all 34 years ago so my memory is a little hazy. I brought a friend along with me and the venue was jam-packed with people. They had a DJ playing, people were dancing; I remember it was the first time I heard (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang by Heaven 17.

    We waited and waited. The start time of the show came and went by at least an hour, maybe two. We were getting ready to leave when, finally, the lights dimmed. The DJ stopped playing and music began from the stage.

    Out from the shadows marched Steve Strange to a round of applause from the eager crowd. He stood at the front of the stage, looked around at the people who had gathered to see him, and announced rather angrily, “What? Why aren’t you all dancing?!” And with that he dramatically did an about-face and stormed off the stage!

    I thought it was an odd way to begin a show, and so we all waited for him (and the band) to return. They never did! That was it. We hung out for another 45 minutes or so, and finally left the venue for other activities in the city that night.

    It was, in hindsight, the weirdest non-show I ever attended! Of course I remained a fan of Visage and Steve Strange forever after. But I’ll never forget that night, and the only time I ever saw Steve Strange “perform”…

    • It’s probably safe to say that Steve Strange’s behavior overall was a bit unconventional, so that incident was likely not surprising in hindsight. Even still – how bizarre! And pretty awesome that you got to see the man in the flesh in the US. Thanks for sharing, Tom!

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