Tag Archives: Chris Sullivan

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

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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

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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 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 McGeoch, 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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How James Brown revolutionised music and became the voice for Black America

James Brown, Chris Sullivan, funk, biopic

James Brown live at the Apollo, 1962: “When I said ‘Die on your feet don’t live on your knees’, I became Soul Brother Number One”


➢ British deejay and commentator Chris Sullivan describes how the Godfather of Funk became the most successful African-American musician of the 20th century – at Alpha, the men’s lifestyle magazine:

Almost every owner of a TV or radio in the world has danced to James Brown’s inimitable grooves at some point in the last half century, even if they don’t know it. Recently, producer-songwriter Pharrell Williams sampled Brown’s hit My Thang on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2011 single Gotta Have It, while his 1970 hit Funky Drummer has been sampled a record 929 times. Altogether Brown’s tunes have been sampled 4,500 times by everyone from Eric B and Rakim to Public Enemy. Accordingly, I’d contest that he is the most influential single recording artist of all time.

“James Brown is magic,” declared an awe-struck Michael Jackson. “I’ve never dared speak to him, but I consider James Brown my greatest teacher.” Meanwhile Mick Jagger, who spent hours watching him as a youngster, admitted to “trying to steal everything I could,” from the master. . . / Continued at Alpha Magazine


➢ The whitewashing of James Brown: Why were all the producers, writers and the director white on the new movie Get On Up? – At the Huffington Post

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1983 ➤ Video gem unearthed from the Blue Rondo vaults

◼ AIRED TODAY AT YOUTUBE: A long-lost live performance by London’s Latin jazz-soul band Blue Rondo à la Turk on German TV in 1983 complete with classic dance breaks from Moses and Sullivan in Aubrey Beardsley hair-do. The line-up dates from about 1982–3: Chris Sullivan and Christos Tolera (vocals), Moses Mount Bassie (sax), Art Collins (sax), Peter Tsegona (trumpet), Geraldo Darbilly (percussion), Greg Parker (guitar), Robin Jones (congas/percussion), Kito Poncioni (bass) and Daniel White (keyboards).

At this time Sullivan says: “Mark Reilly had left to form Matt Bianco. Kito carried on for a few months as he needed the money.” Then he and Daniel White left to join Matt Bianco which enjoyed several UK hits. By the time Blue Rondo released its second album album, Bees Knees and Chicken Elbows in 1984, the band had sadly disintegrated. Their first album Chewing the Fat was easily the best new album of 1981 in terms of musicality and attitude. Sullivan of course went on to run Soho’s Wag Club for 19 years and make it a legendary showbiz rendezvous.

24 NOV UPDATE FROM THE VAULT ♫ CHANGE ♫


➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Blue Rondo à la Turk created a buzz in clubland

Blue Rondo à la Turk ,Chris Sullivan ,Chewing the Fat ,jazz,soul,double-CD ,Cherry Red Records,Swinging 80s,Christos Tolera ,
➢ In June 2014 a double-CD entitled Chewing the Fat was issued by Cherry Red Records (CDBRED621) – They include 29 tracks, which are all of the group’s recordings on the original album, and various bonus tracks, 7in and 12in specials, plus remixes.

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➤ Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 890,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly being read here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983

THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — This much-recycled account originally penned by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved. Spandau Ballet songwriter Gary Kemp responded: “A superb piece. It will be referred to historically.”

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George O’Dowd a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before their band Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after this heavily fictionalised life story was broadcast in 2010, Shapers of the 80s canvassed this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George myth and in doing so reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually run the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty musical Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates Slade from Bowie, the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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