Steve Strange, singer for the 1980s New Romantic band Visage, died Thursday in Egypt of heart failure, according to his record label August Day Recordings. Strange, whose real name was Steven John Harrington, was 55. He had been admitted to the hospital in the U.K. in December with breathing difficulties and intestinal blockage.
Born in Wales, he adopted the name Steve Strange and formed Visage in 1978 with Rusty Egan, Midge Ure and members of Magazine. When Strange appeared in the video for David Bowie’s hit “Ashes to Ashes,” he helped popularize the New Romantic fashion movement that featured white facepaint, tribal makeup decorations and exaggerated hairstyles.
Strange and Egan ran the Blitz nightclub in London, center for the New Romantic movement and bands such as Boy George’s Culture Club and Spandau Ballet, then went on to run the Camden Palace.
Visage signed with Polydor in 1980 and released “Fade to Grey,” a new wave hit in the U.K. that made it to No. 1 in Germany and Switzerland. The band followed with two popular albums before breaking up in 1985.
After Visage dissolved, he became a promoter in Ibiza and re-formed Visage twice without the original members.
Strange battled heroin addiction and suffered a nervous breakdown, which he wrote about in his autobiography “Blitzed!” He appeared in the 2008 BBC drama series “Ashes to Ashes” performing “Fade to Grey” in a scene set in the Blitz nightclub.