Steve Strange RIP

Steve Strange, the new romantic archetype and star of the Blitz club, has died.
The official statement on the Visage Facebook Page reads:
“We are extremely saddened to announce that Steve Strange died at 11.15 local time on Thursday 12th February, in Sharm El Sheik International Hospital, Egypt. Steve died in his sleep, of Heart Failure. Steve’s family, band members and friends are all distraught at this sudden news of his untimely death. Steve’s family request privacy at this extremely difficult time.”
Steve Strange was a pivotal figure in the new romantic movement, fronting Visage, a band who perhaps more than any other embodied the spirit of the Blitz kids. He famously appeared in David Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’ video, and had recently revived the Visage name for a new album and some live appearances.
When we interviewed him last year, he gave us a typically hilarious account of the making of the classic Visage track, ‘Fade To Grey’.
“I was in a band called The Photons. The revolutionary idea the manager had to break away from punk was to play power pop and have us all dress in different colour suits; mine was bright blue, the drummer’s was green, the guitarist’s was red, and the bass player’s was yellow. We did about 10 UK dates. When it came to the big London show, it was like a who’s-who of punk, Don Letts, the Pistols, the Clash were there.
“I’d got bored with the coloured suit, so I made this outfit, with ruffles and slashed trousers with alluring see-through patches in the arse, so you could see I had no underwear. Midge came up, who I already knew, and he knew the Rich Kids were over, and he said to me, “I want to use this studio time, will you come and sing on some tracks?” So I did. I remember I got into it so much that when we did that cover of ‘In the Year 2525’, I was literally acting as if the world was coming to an end. I was holding on to the vocal booth bellowing it out. All the tracks we were recording, we would play them at Billy’s, and later at the Blitz, and that’s when the hordes of record companies started coming to the club. We were getting a lot of kids from St Martin’s, not just bands and musicians, but all these designers, milliners like Stephen Jones, Galliano, John Linard, Melissa Caplan who did the costumes for the ‘Fade to Grey’ video and went on to do costumes for Toyah.
“I knew we had something with the album. In the studio Midge taught me that Bowie technique to create lyrics by cutting up newspapers, and shuffle those cards like Eno, ‘Oblique Strategies’, that sort of thing.
“When the album came out, I was like, “Why haven’t I got a credit on ‘Fade To Grey’?” And they were like, “Because Chris Payne wrote it.” He didn’t really, it was my idea to put the French girl in and it was supposed to be a five-way split. Our first pay cheque from that was £350,000, every one of us. And that was because of me getting out of bed and going to five countries in a day, and all they were did was moan about me going to too many fucking parties. [laughs].
“I was pissed off. I was the only one not signed to a record contract. I didn’t know how these things worked, I was pretty naive. But I was the one going to five fucking countries in one day while everyone else got to lay in bed, nobody did anything to help me promote the album.
“The thing is, I would never have dreamed of telling Midge how he should play or anything like that, and once my vocals were recorded, done and dusted, it made much more sense to me to be out at a party. I mean, why should I be locked in a fucking studio, when I can be photographed out and about? Midge would be like, “Oh, you’ve done your vocals now, I suppose you’re fucking off to a party.” I went, “Yeah, I am actually, to get us more press, to sell us more records!” And then what really blew it with Midge was when we were in New York. We were going to be at this event, and there was going to be Andy Warhol, the Talking Heads, the B52s, Blondie, and I thought, “Right, I’ve got make an impact at this super cool party.” So I decided I wanted to come in on an elephant. I said to the record company, “I want an elephant!” “What?!” they said. “I’ve got to blow all these people away! I want an elephant!” “Where the hell are we going to get a elephant?” they asked. “Well there must be zoos in New York,” I said. Later I get a call: “We can’t get an elephant, but we’ve got a camel.” Anyway, it did the trick, it was on every TV station and newspaper! But Midge blew his top, he said “I’m getting on Concorde if you come in on a bloody elephant!” I said “Oh get on fucking Concorde then, they can’t get an elephant anyway, I’m on a camel,” and I put the phone down.’
“It’s great that people like Goldfrapp and Fischerspooner, La Roux and Little Boots all say we were important, that if it wasn’t for us there wouldn’t be this electronic scene now. ‘Pleasure Boy’ and ‘Frequency 7’, those have been sampled so many times. It blows me away! But Kelly Osbourne did that ‘One Word’ and claimed she’d never heard ‘Fade To Grey’! I can sing ‘Fade to Grey’ along to fucking ‘One Word’! There’s even a French bit! ”
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