Steve Strange

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Steve Strange
Steve Strange (born Steven John Harrington, 1959) was a pop singer, best known as the lead singer and frontman of the 1980s pop group Visage.[1] From the late 1970s he was a nightclub host and promoter.

Early life

Harrington was born in Newbridge, Caerphilly, Wales, but the family moved Aldershot, Hampshire, where his father was serving in the British Army as a paratrooper. They later moved back to Wales and lived in Rhyl on the north coast, where his parents bought a large guest house and opened sea front cafes. They then divorced and Steve moved with his mother back to Newbridge.[2]

Punk era

After seeing a Sex Pistols concert at the Stowaway Club in Newport in 1976, Harrington befriended the bass player Glen Matlock. He then arranged gigs for punk bands in his home town and befriended Jean-Jacques Burnel of The Stranglers before leaving for London where he worked for Malcolm McLaren[2] and formed a punk band called The Moors Murderers. After a number of gigs, the band split up around early 1978.[3]

Later in 1978, Harrington briefly joined the punk/new wave band The Photons (originally from Liverpool) as vocalist and co-songwriter at the behest of David Littler (ex The Spitfire Boys).

Harrington was the subject of the song "Poseur" by fellow punk band Combat 84 in 1982.[4]


Shortly after leaving The Photons, and then using the alias "Steve Strange", Harrington formed Visage with then Rich Kids members Rusty Egan and Midge Ure and Magazine members Barry Adamson, John McGeoch and Dave Formula. Their first single "Tar" was not a success, but the following year, Strange appeared in the video for David Bowie's no.1 hit "Ashes to Ashes", a song which helped to propel the burgeoning New Romantic fashion movement into the mainstream (although Bowie himself was never directly associated with it). Later that year, Visage signed a new record deal with Polydor and released their second single, "Fade to Grey" which became a top 10 hit in the UK and topped the charts in several other countries. As the public face of the band, Strange shot to stardom in Britain and other parts of Europe. Visage enjoyed a string of hit singles and two hit albums before later commercial disappointments led to their break-up in 1985.

After the dissolution of Visage, Strange formed the short-lived band Strange Cruise with Wendy Wu. The group signed with EMI Records and released two singles and an album in 1986, though failed to gain any chart success.

Club host

In the late 1970s, prior to their success with Visage, Strange and Visage partner Rusty Egan began to make a name for themselves as a nightclub host and DJ respectively at "Blitz" in London. Adhering to Strange's strict door policy of admitting only "the weird and wonderful", the club took off and became an essential location in the rise of what would become the New Romantic movement. Following this, Strange and Egan then fronted the Camden Palace nightclub for two years, which became one of the most famous venues of the era, attracting major celebrities on a regular basis. However, after conflicts with the financial backers of the club, Strange and Egan left the Camden Palace and moved on to a new club named "The Playground".

Later in the 1980s, Strange went to Ibiza, Spain and became an integral part of the budding trance club movement hosting parties for celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone.

Visage Mk II

In 2002, Strange took part in the "Here and Now Tour", which featured a revival of various 80s pop acts. In 2004, he then formed a new version of Visage, dubbed Visage Mk II, with various musicians from electronic bands. None of the other original members were involved in the project.

In 2006, Strange collaborated with electronic music duo Punx Soundcheck for their album When Machines Rules The World, co-writing and performing on the track "In The Dark".

The Detroit Starrzz and Visage (Mk III)

In February 2012, Strange appeared as a guest on the ITV chat show Loose Women and said that he was still working on a new Visage album and that nine tracks had been completed to date.[5] In early 2013, Strange announced another new version of Visage featuring himself and former member Steve Barnacle, along with former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon and vocalist Lauren Duvall. A new album, Hearts and Knives, was released in May 2013 (the first new Visage album in 29 years). In support of the album, the band made several live appearances in the UK and Europe in 2013.

Parallel to recording new Visage material, Strange has also been involved in another music project, The Detroit Starrzz. The group, which consists of Strange and various DJ/remixers, released their first single, "Halo", in 2011. While appearing on the chat show Loose Women in February 2012, Strange stated he had recorded a full album with the group, with another single, "Aiming For Gold", to be released later in 2012.[5] The group played a live set at the Citrus Club in Edinburgh on 3 February 2012.[6]

Personal life

Strange was always somewhat ambiguous about his sexuality, although he had made it known he had had relationships with both men and women.[7]

For many years, Strange battled a heroin addiction. In later years he suffered a nervous breakdown and was given a three-month suspended sentence for shoplifting.[8]

In 2002, Strange published his autobiography, Blitzed!, in which he speaks about his heroin addiction, his nervous breakdown, his sexuality, and the ongoing attempts to get his life back together.

Strange was portrayed in Boy George's 2002 stage musical Taboo which reflected on the New Romantic scene of the early 1980s.

In 2005, Strange appeared in a Channel 4 documentary called Whatever Happened to the Gender Benders?, which reflected on the advent of the New Romantic movement of the early 1980s and the prominent roles that Strange, Boy George and Marilyn each played within it. In stark contrast to the glamour of the New Romantic era, interviews with all three stars in the present day highlighted the sheer devastation that fame, fortune and drug addiction had taken on them during the past 25 years, with Strange and Marilyn in particular being openly candid about the mental health problems they now try to cope with every day.

In November 2006, Strange took part in, and went on to win, the BBC reality series for Children in Need, Celebrity Scissorhands. He returned to the show in 2007 and 2008[9] as Assistant Manager/Image Consultant. In that role, he was in charge of the catwalk, showing all of the best haircuts of the series and also people dressed in 80s style clothing and make-up.

In 2008, Strange (and Visage II keyboardist Sandrine Gouriou) made an appearance in the BBC drama series Ashes to Ashes, set in 1981. In it, they performed the song "Fade to Grey" in a scene set in the "Blitz" nightclub.

In 2009, Strange and Rusty Egan appeared in Living TV's Pop Goes the Band,[10] a series in which pop stars from the 1980s are given a complete makeover in return for a one-off performance. The Visage episode aired on 16 March 2009, and was the first time that the two men had spoken in over 20 years. The episode focused (like others in the series) more on getting them fit in the gym than on the current state of their relationship, though they appeared to get on well enough. At the culmination of the episode, they performed "Fade to Grey".

In 2010, Strange was portrayed by actor Marc Warren in the BBC programme Worried About The Boy, a dramatisation of Boy George's rise to fame.

In January 2011, Strange and Rusty Egan reopened the "Blitz" Club for one night, with performances from Roman Kemp's band Paradise Point and electro punk artist Quilla Constance, plus DJ sets from Egan himself.

In January 2013, Strange appeared on Channel 4 News discussing the forthcoming release of David Bowie's album The Next Day.

Strange died while in Egypt in 2015.


Adapted from a Wikipedia article.

  1. "South East Wales Showbiz – Steve Strange – New Romantic pop star from Newbridge" BBC August 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Steve Strange Blitzed! The autobiography of Steve Strange Orion Books, 2002 ISBN 0-7528-4720-1
  5. 5.0 5.1 Loose Women (2 February 2012). ITV Studios. Director Jo Johns, Producer Natasha Neeson.
  6. Neil Cooper, "Steve Strange and the Detroit Starrzz – Citrus Club, Edinburgh, Fri 3 Feb 2012" 8 February 2012
  7. Julia Stuart, "Steve Strange: The dandy who fell to earth" The Independent 5 October 2000
  8.,,4019282-103680,00.html Strange but true The Guardian
  9. "Scissorhands contestants unveiled – TV News" Digital Spy 29 September 2008
  10. Pop Goes the Band