Category Archives: Youth culture

A Strangely Steve farewell: the funeral video, 2015

◼ HERE IS THE FULL TEXT of the first celebrity eulogy at Steve Strange’s funeral, given by Spandau Ballet sax player, Steve Norman. (An earlier address had been given by ‘Kimbo’, a local friend, who was almost inaudible inside the church.) The audio quality generally was too poor to publish more than the short clip of Steve that you hear in the funeral video, above, created by Shapers of the 80s.

Steve Norman’s voice faltered in the most touching way because he was feeling strong emotions and apparently speaking spontaneously.

Steve Strange, Stephen Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s, obituaries, funeral, Visage, eulogy, Steve Norman, Spandau Ballet, pop music,

The Steves Strange and Norman: friends to the end

NORMSKI’S SPEECH: ‘HE HELPED SHAPE THE 80S’

In full, he said: “A lot has been said since Steve passed about his contribution to the pop culture and how he helped to shape the 80s. We wished a few more people had said it when he was around. Steve needed that affirmation of how much he was loved.

“He was a very generous man, but first and foremost he was my friend. I’ve known Steve since the 70s. He took myself and Martin Kemp under his wing. We didn’t have any money back then and he took us to all the groovy places in London back in the 70s and early 80s when things weren’t really happening at all, but Steve found out what was going on, took us there and paid for everything and our drinks, whatever we wanted, and we had a great time. And that relationship lasted all throughout his life – we were very close to the end.

“The last time I spoke to Steve was before Christmas and he called up and he was a little distraught and we had a mutual friend he’d fallen out massively with, and Steve was worried I might take the other side. I reminded him of the early days and what he did for myself and how he was always there. He would turn up at my parents’ house for a cup of tea and a chat – he loved people and really needed to connect with people.

“I remember saying to him I love you dearly and he said he loved me. And I put the phone down – and he hadn’t put it down properly and I heard him telling somebody ‘Ah, I love Steve and Steve loves me.’ He was so sensitive. It was a great comfort that I could tell him how much I loved him.

“He was a very sensitive, generous, caring, special human being with a massive heart.”

BOY GEORGE’S POEM FOR STEVE STRANGE

Steve Strange, Stephen Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, nightclubbing, Swinging 80s, obituaries, funeral, Visage, eulogy, Boy George, pop music,

Steve Strange and Boy George: “first-class show-off, 
fellow freak”. (Photo by Yui Mok)

❏ Even though the service took place in a high Anglican church, George O’Dowd wore his cap throughout. He adjusted the microphone before declaiming= his eulogy which took the form of a poem, saying: “I’ve known Steve some time so I’ve written a few things. . . you might not have heard in a church before.”

Life asked Death
why do people love you but hate me?
Death responded:
because you are a beautiful lie
and I am a painful truth
.

Goodbye Steve,
part-time nemesis, 
rogue, 
glam rocker, 
punk rocker,
new romantic, 
old romantic,
first-class show-off, 
fellow freak,
beautiful gay man, 
seminal pop star,
wrecking ball, 
costume ball, 
masked ball,
futurist, 
fashionista,
Blitz Kid, 
blitzkrieg,
Welshman, 
wild card, 
weirdo,
sister, 
sinner, 
saint,
whirling, 
swirling, 
in your warpaint.

If you pray
all your sins are hooked upon the sky.
Pray and the heathen lie will disappear.
Prayers they hide
the saddest view.
(Believing the Steve Strangest thing,
loving the alien)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
All on one website – the tidal wave of tributes that
have flooded in for Steve Strange

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➤ Today’s pix from Steve Strange’s funeral

◼ EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FOOTAGE coming soon at Shapersofthe80s.com. . .

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Steve Strange’s funeral, Porthcawl, Wales

Grief was all too evident throughout today’s funeral in Wales for Visage frontman Steve Strange. Here Martin and Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet contemplate lifting the coffin, as pall-bearers. . . Two pop stars made eulogies at the service. As a close friend of Strange, Spandau sax player Steve Norman said: “A lot has been said since Steve passed about the pop culture and how he shaped it in the 80s. We wish a few more people had said it when he was around.”

Steve Norman , Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Martin Kemp , Steve Strange, funeral, Boy George, Wales, Stephen Harrington

Steve Strange’s funeral, Porthcawl, Wales

Here Steve Norman and Martin Kemp help carry Steve Strange’s coffin back to the hearse after his funeral service today. Boy George’s feet can be seen in silver trainers. In his eulogy George, who wore a flat cap throughout the high Anglican church service, described Steve as “a part-time nemesis, new romantic, old romantic, futurist fashionista, Welshman, weirdo, sister, saint and sinner”.

❏ Curious fact: On the funeral’s Order of Service Steve Strange’s real name Stephen Harrington was revealed to be spelt with “ph”. Since our paths first crossed, he had always spelt his own name as Steven with a V. It’ll take a while for us to correct the many mentions of his name here at Shapers of the 80s.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
All on one website: the tidal wave of tributes that have
flooded in for Steve Strange

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2015 ➤ Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend

2013, Steve Strange photographed by Tim Whitby

Steve Strange in 2002 photographed by Tim Whitby

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Nowt so Strange as Steven John Harrington,
28 May 1959–12 Feb 2015

1978, when Steve Strange teamed up with Rusty Egan (Photo © Fin Costello/Redferns)

1978, when Steve Strange met Rusty Egan. (Photo © Fin Costello/Redferns)

HOW THE RULES OF 80s NIGHTCLUBBING
WERE REWRITTEN BY STRANGE & EGAN

+++
RUSTY EGAN REMEMBERS HIS CLUBBING PARTNER
About this week’s Mi-soul radio show, Rusty said: “I’m very, very sad and down tonight because I’ve lost an old friend. We had our disagreements but we did have a decade of the best times that anybody could ever have wished for. We made some amazing music, some amazing parties, clubs and fun and friends. Underneath it all he was a good soul. Steve, I’m so sorry I didn’t get a chance to say I still love you.

Tonight we say Hello and Wave Goodbye to my friend and foe Steve Strange AKA Steve Harrington who convinced me to let him crash at my place for one night. We were flatmates for five years and never had a night in… friends for 25 years and foes for less than five years. Music says everything I could ever want to say… Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, David Ball, Midge Ure, Lou Reed, John Foxx and The Maths, Joy Division say everything I could want to say + EMT, The Magickal, Jeff Appleton, Visage, The Distant Minds. The good times outweigh the bad.

Rusty Egan 14 02 15 dedicated to Steve Strange RIP by Dj Rusty Egan on Mixcloud

+++

Steve Strange, Chris Sullivan, Graham Smith, Steve Norman, Blitz Kids, Swinging 80s, London

Chris Sullivan’s 21st birthday, 1981: “me drunk out of my head after a bottle of tequila with the boys in my bedroom in Kentish Town” – the boys being Steve Strange, Graham Smith and Steve Norman (photo © Graham)

CHRIS SULLIVAN, WHO RAN
SOHO’S WAG CLUB

I first met Steve Strange (né Harrington) when I was 14. We were both into Northern Soul and used to meet in Blackwood, South Wales, just a mile or two from his council house home. Then it was funk, Bowie and Roxy. Subsequently, punk, bondage and notoriety. We’d travel to London, Bristol, wherever to satiate our need for nightlife. Thus, London was the only place for Steve so he moved up to work for Vivienne Westwood in 1977. He was 18. I was 17. He became a punk “face” while I finished my A-levels and then went off to San Francisco in search of the Beatnik life (but couldn’t find it) and lost touch with Steve.

Then in October 1978, I bumped into him in Oxford Circus and he invited me to his new Bowie night at Billy’s. Since then we have been inextricably linked. We ran the club Hell together, then he did Club For Heroes and me Le Kilt. He then opened the Camden Palace and me the Wag.

We were both flamboyant club-running Welsh dandies but were never rivals. Steve had too much dignity for that. We were friends and remained so for the rest of his life. And I can say that Steve, despite quite a few hard years, never lost that that spark, humour or joie de vivre, was forever stylish and was always a pleasure to see.

SHAPERS OF THE 80s
extends heartfelt thanks to these key Blitz Kids (as were) for taking the time to contribute these wonderful appreciations of Steve Strange who died yesterday aged 55. We are all in varying degrees of shock, yet it is remarkable how their tributes readily identify the distinct qualities that made Steve a beacon for others to rally round. We hope these words will stand as both epitaph and historic record

I will miss reminiscing about us getting caught shoplifting together, our ferry to Calais as that got stuck in a hurricane going back and forth unable to dock for 13 hours; then hanging out with Grace Jones, Iman and Gaultier and getting spat at by a Parisian old lady who thought we were Nazis (we both had coincidentally brought our leather German trench coats); doing LSD at the Notting Hill Carnival, ecstasy in Ibiza in 1983 and getting lost in New York’s gang infested Alphabet City York at 5am after a night out in 1985 and walking in complete circles till it was light. Adventure after misadventure after misdemeanour. Two working-class Welsh chaps who could not believe their luck sucking the lemon dry.

I spoke to him a lot over his last few years and realised that he, coming from nothing, just threw down the gauntlet and created this being, “Steve Strange”, who was his “art” and, rather like Quentin Crisp and Leigh Bowery, was famous for purely being himself – a rather unique individual, one of a kind and a true maverick who never once towed the party line and always kept you guessing from Telly Tubbies Toys to TV shows. Indeed, our lives ran in tandem for decades and, I can honestly say, that I am proud to have been a friend and associate for 40 years of this great British character. I doubt we will see the likes of him again. Today my melancholia was lifted by one thought. He would have also loved this massive media attention regarding his demise. He would have said “See, I told you I was making a comeback!”

The world is a smaller place without Steve.

Princess Julia, PX, New Romantics

Julia before she was a princess: outside PX in 1980

PRINCESS JULIA, WRITER AND DEEJAY
We piled into his clubs from the late 70s onwards and made things happen. Steve Strange’s notoriety filtered into the mainstream making him a household name, much to his delight. Getting dressed up, going out and getting noticed… Steve was head of a subculture the likes of which perhaps we will never see again. He rode the decades, suffered ups and downs but always retained a vision of creativity, his own and those around him. Encouraging people to follow their dreams, the Blitz was a melting pot of creativity, its ethos a cornerstone to generation after generation who aspired and are aspiring to cast their nets wider.

When I met Steve his style was fearless. He became an entrepreneur in clubland perhaps unwittingly and genuinely enjoyed the ritual of clubbing. On other fronts Visage, initially a studio project, rapidly gained cult status, and he never abandoned performing right up to the present. He had a wicked sense of humour and was ready to tackle challenges even though his decadent years had taken their toll on his health… The stories I could tell you, perhaps I’ll leave that to your imagination!

Kim Bowen

1979, Kim Bowen models for milliner Stephen Jones, assisted by Lee Sheldrick in the Jones boutique

STEPHEN JONES, MILLINER
Steve Strange was a live wire. He made things happen, joined the dots between people. And he was my first customer. I went to his Bowie nights at Billy’s club and then the Blitz as a student at St Martin’s and he asked me to make him a hat out of gold braid. It took me about three weeks and he paid £75, a fortune in those days. Then, he was working at a fashion store called PX in Covent Garden. They had an empty basement, and he asked me if I wanted to set up store in there. So that was my first shop. I owe my start to Steve.

There was a vacuum after punk had gone. Suddenly there were all these kids dressing up in these eclectic, historical, top-to-toe looks we made ourselves from thrift stores. With Steve, it had to be a total look, whether he was wearing a dress, or a slick Antony Price suit. And every look needed a hat.

KIM BOWEN, STYLIST,
ONETIME QUEEN OF THE BLITZ

The hustle, the bustle, the make-up, the clothes, “Julia and I think you should put pencil on that mole of yours, it looks like a spot otherwise” to “I like your hat, do you think Stephen Jones will make one for me?” Rushing enthusiasm, involving everyone, creating insane parties going round and round on the Circle Line. Some truly bad outfits (his not mine.) Shockingly, “Kim, will you be my official girlfriend?” My boyfriend Jeremy Healy was rather outraged at that, sensing a great and grievous social impropriety.

“I know some weird private club in Wandsworth, Lord Longleat will be there, he’s fun, let’s go” . . . “God, look at Mick Jagger, he looks like an axolotl, doesn’t he? – Still, let’s go talk to him” . . . Cramming into the flat on King’s Road that he and Rusty and Julia shared, the height of sophistication as we polished off bottles of Blue Nun.

“ You were the epicentre of a most
particular time and place,
and you did create the stage
on which we all appeared ”
– Kim Bowen, Queen of the Blitz Club

“Will you run a nightclub with me?” became screaming up the stairs at Club For Heroes: “Why are you letting those horrible people in?!” Parties here, parties there, a club here, there and everywhere, places to sit bored and rude, blame him and his shit club, hate the music, be a little bitch, stick your nose up in the air Kim Bowen, and to always, always be asked, to be introduced to David Bailey who photographed me for Ritz magazine, to be implored to be in Bowie’s Ashes video and to refuse, to always be asked to anything fun, anything interesting, daring, mad, silly, stylish by this kind, generous, privately soft and rather vulnerable, funny Welsh guy, who always laughed, until he didn’t and things went dark.

And then they got better again. And then this abrupt goodbye. What a shock. You were the epicentre of a most particular time and place, and you did create the stage on which we all appeared, flourishing our lace cuffs and sharpening our profiles to the footlights. Thank you for that. Because we just came to your clubs, you created them Steve, you and Rusty.

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Above: King and queen of the Blitz: Steve Strange wearing PX and Kim Bowen crowned by Stephen Jones titfer in 1980. Photograph © by Letac / Shapersofthe80s archive

CONTINUED INSIDE
SHAPERS OF THE 80S

➢ Click through to read more of this week’s Blitz Kid
tributes to Steve from:

Peter Ashworth, Ninotchka Bee Bee, Helen Carey, Eve Ferret, Judith Frankland, Boy George, Francesca Von Habsburg Thyssen, Billy Idol, Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Simon Le Bon, Stephen Linard, ‪Franceska Luther King‪, Glen Matlock, Mark Moore, Christos Tolera, John Maybury, Steve Norman, Milly Parkinson, Andy Polaris, Stephane Raynor, Graham Smith, Graham K Smith, Midge Ure, Iain R Webb and Mike Leigh, Steve’s agent

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: At Strange & Egan’s Camden Palace a silly hat and a calculated look might be the best career move you’ve ever made

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➤ Steve Strange: deciphering the pen portraits of the man of masks

Toyah Willcox, Steve Strange

Click on image to view BBC vintage video from 1981: Toyah Willcox interviews Strange in Robin Hood guise

◼ ONE OF STEVE STRANGE’S TALENTS was persuading the press to believe in his latest wheeze, however fantastic. He had a way of convincing himself that a story was already written and a mission achieved before he had pressed the accelerator and set off. This irritated as many journalists as it amused and many were consequently very sceptical of his next big announcement – like saying he’d booked a big American star to do her first live promotional performance in Britain at his crowning glory, the Camden Palace, capacity 1,410. But in fact he had and she did, and in June 1983 the unknown Madonna was launched singing to backing tapes for half an hour.

The myths surrounding Steve were always the stuff of self-promotion. Today, he would say, I am Robin Hood, tomorrow Ruritanian Space Cadet, the next day Marionette with the mind of a toy. A compulsive man of masks presents a tricky subject for the scribblers obliged to capture that life once it is spent, so we must tiptoe through the obituaries like a minefield, and beware of tripping over Steve’s much-spun versions of history that were pure fantasy. Even national newspapers seemed to fall for many of the dreams he spouted, as well as the exceedingly vague memories committed to his 2002 book, Blitzed.

➢ Read extracts from the obituaries inside Shapersofthe80s: As the mainstream writers lead you through those New Romantic years, see if you can spot the porkies

BOY GEORGE’S OWN TRIBUTE TO HIS RIVAL

➢ At Shapersofthe80s: Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend

FRONT PAGE

➤ Steve Strange RIP: the great provocateur who led from the front and inspired a generation

Visage ,Blitz Club,Steve Strange ,Blitz Kids, New Romantics, nightclubbing, tributes

The early Visage outside the Blitz Club in 1979: Steve Strange (second right) and from the left, Rusty Egan, John McGeogh, Barry Adamson, Billy Currie, Dave Formula and Midge Ure. (Picture © Sheila Rock)

SO FAR ONLY A FEW SERIOUS COMMENTATORS HAVE glimpsed STEVE’S WIZARDY…

➢ Tom Ewing in today’s Guardian:

The reruns of 1980s Top of the Pops on BBC4 will provide an opportunity to see the change Strange and his friends wrought – a pop scene becoming funnier, more dramatic, and more delightful to look at with each week. By 1981, and Strange’s move to a new venue, Club For Heroes, pop music looked and sounded quite different than when he’d arrived, and he’d played a huge part in the change. Nobody in pop is trusted less than the fashionable. But a generation of small viewers learned more about glamour, improvisation and style from the pop music of Steve Strange’s generation than from anything else on TV, or in real life.

Strange kept making music and running clubs, but the records he left behind – fantastic as they often were – are still only half the story. Steve Strange was important not just as a pop star from a particularly colourful scene, but as one of pop’s secret architects. . . / Continued at Guardian online

Steve Strange, Steven Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,

Leather-clad Steve Strange photographed in 1982 by Helmut Newton

➢ Neil McCormick in today’s Daily Telegraph:

Strange was a significant figure . . . his influence behind the scenes proving crucial to the newfound confidence and flamboyance of post-punk British pop in the Eighties. . . Dance music became cool again, synths reigned supreme, with Strange amongst the chief instigators of a fresh colourfulness and extravagance that brought fun and glamour back into pop, giving impetus to a flashy, eccentric scene that ultimately inspired the second British musical invasion of America.

His death from a heart attack at 55 may only leave a tiny mark on pop music but Strange himself had already made a much bigger mark. To those who knew, Strange was a genuine pioneer, an inspiration to a generation. . . / Continued at Telegraph online

➢ LISTEN to broadcaster Robert Elms – one of the original Blitz Kids – paying tribute today on BBC London 94.9:

This working-class kid orchestrated London for a couple of years. He was a worker of people, a creator of ideas, a cultural agent provocateur. . . down-to-earth, funny, scurrilous. . . And he made things happen. He played London like a musical instrument

➢ More memories of the man behind the make-up
– by ‘Betty Page’:

I interviewed Steve just before Visage’s first album was released, fully expecting to meet an arrogant 20th-century version of Beau Brummell. He was modelling the Little Lord Fauntleroy look – porcelain face make-up, tumbling curls and two finely drawn black dots placed on the tip of his nose completed the look. I told him that I wished I had the patience to apply such an immaculate maquillage.

“I’ll get up as early as it takes to get my face right,” he replied. “No matter how big the hangover.”

Now there’s dedication. That’s what it takes to be A Creation. I no longer feared that the room was too big for the three of us – Steve, his reputation and me. He was just a sweet working-class boy from Wales who liked to dress up and party. . . / Continued at Berverleyglick.com

18 FEB UPDATE: SULLIVAN’S SOHO RADIO SHOW

Sullivan's Suits - Chris Sullivan - 18th February by Soho Radio on Mixcloud

I had the immense pleasure of dedicating my radio show today to my old partner in crime and friend since early teens Steve Strange and rounded up some of his best friends to tell us some great Strangie stories including Princess Julia, Jennie Matthias of the Belle Stars, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols, Jeanette Calliva who ran Double Bass and The Bank with him. A real honour to do as it was a privilege to be his good friend for 40 years. He was a complete and utter maverick. He had balls the size of basketballs. He didn’t know when to stop and he never knew when the night had ended. Steve’s greatest achievement was that he sussed out he could become notorious being himself in every way and he made a living out of it.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Nowt so Strange as Steven John Harrington, 1959–2015

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