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Wednesday 13 December 2017

New Romantic pioneer Strange dies

Steve Strange has died of a heart attack in Egypt at the age of 55
Steve Strange has died of a heart attack in Egypt at the age of 55

A "heartbroken" Boy George has paid tribute to his New Romantic contemporary Steve Strange after the singer died of a heart attack on holiday in Egypt.

The 55-year-old Welsh pop star found fame in the early 1980s as frontman for Visage who scored a string of top 40 hits.

Their best-known song, Fade To Grey, was a top 10 hit in 1980 and made the top 40 again 13 years later when it was re-released.

Strange was a huge influence on the New Romantic scene, which spawned bands including Culture Club and Spandau Ballet, and ran the Blitz Club in central London which brought together musicians, designers and artists.

Boy George said: "Heartbroken about the death of my friend Steve Strange. So bloody sad. Such a big part of my life!"

In a statement, Spandau Ballet described Strange as "a huge influence on the musical and cultural landscape of the Eighties".

"We are devastated at the news of the passing of our dear friend Steve Strange. Steve was a lovely, warm, generous, kind-hearted man, always full of fun.

"He will be sadly missed," they added.

The band dedicated their performance in Italy to the "maverick".

Guitarist Gary Kemp said: "Spandau in tears tonight. We dedicated our performance to Steve Strange. Without him we would never have been here. A maverick to the end."

His record label said he died in his sleep at 11.15am local time yesterday in Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital.

Former bandmates Midge Ure and Rusty Egan said they were "devastated" to hear of the"untimely passing" of the man they described as "a major face of the 80s".

Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon said Strange had been at the "leading edge" of the New Romantic scene.

Kim Wilde, who met Strange early on in her career and toured with him in 2002, said she was "grateful" to have known him.

She said: "He was funny, great company and completely bonkers in the most adorable way."

The singer added: "Steve was a family man first and often spoke of his beloved family in Wales.

"Steve will be remembered as the most elegant and beautiful of the New Romantics at the beginning of the 80s, and Fade To Grey one of the very best and most influential records of the decade.

"I shall remember him for his humour and generous spirit; he really was a very lovely man."

Strange's agent, Pete Bassett, told the Press Association: "He will be remembered as a hard-working, very amusing and lovable individual who always was at the forefront of fashion trends.

"Up until last year he was putting together a book of fashion styles based on the New Romantic movement and it comes as a great shock.

"We understood that he had certain health problems but nothing we knew was life threatening.

"His friends and family are totally shocked, we had no idea anything like this was likely to happen."

Born Steven John Harrington in Newbridge, Monmouthshire, Strange got involved in music after seeing the Sex Pistols in concert at the Castle Cinema in Caerphilly in 1976.

At the age of 15 he went to London to work for Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren before setting up Blitz, which employed a yet undiscovered Boy George in the cloakroom.

Formed in 1979, Visage's breakthrough record, Fade To Grey, peaked at number eight in the UK Singles Chart the following year and reached number one in both Germany and Switzerland.

But following the band's successful first two albums, Visage and The Anvil, Strange became addicted to heroin after first trying the drug while modelling at a Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris in 1985.

''It was the worst mistake that I ever made in my life,'' he told The Independent newspaper in 2000.

There later followed legal problems such as an arrest and suspended sentence for stealing a Teletubbies doll and cosmetics set from a shop in Bridgend, south Wales.

Press Association

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