Tag Archives: Steve Strange

➤ Toasting the Blitz Kid dynamos who have driven the success of Shapers of the 80s

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Blitz Kids as stars of David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980: from the left, Steve Strange, Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise and Judi Frankland. When they got back to London after filming, they all went clubbing. Video © 1983 Jones Music / EMI Records Ltd

❚ SHAPERS OF THE 80S TELLS THE DEFINITIVE STORY of a subcultural revolution in British music and style 30 years ago. Its detonator was a youthful blast of impossible trendiness and its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This site gathers together the eye-witness journalism and photography of one observer who knew a good time when he saw one and was published in the coolest titles of the day.

Now in its fifth year, this site has attracted a total of 722,500 views since its launch, according to year-ending WordPress stats. The figures also identify the 20 most widely read items out of more than 600 posted here. Most of these pieces were first published back in the day, but seven of the Top 20 items reflect the continuing interest expressed through the recent 80s revival. In many ways, London is again displaying all the symptoms of being the world’s most swinging city, as it was in the 60s and the 80s, when there were a galaxy of reasons to hit the town every single night of the week.

THE 20 MOST VIEWED POSTS AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S

1  ➢ The Blitz Kids — 50 crucial nightclubbers who
set the style for a decade

2  ➢ The key men in Boy George’s life, but why has TV changed some of the names? (2010)

3  ➢ Golden rules for keeping Studio 54 ahead of the pack (1981)

4  ➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture – birth of the once-weekly party night (1983)

5  ➢ Sorry, girls, but Spandau’s Steve Norman has a secret love — see that ring on his finger? (2011)

The Face, magazine, May 1980, launch, Jerry Dammers, David Bowie, The Cult With No Name, New Romantics

The difference seven months made: In May 1980 The Face launched with Jerry Dammers of the Specials on its cover. By November the new direction was Bowie plus a feature on The Cult With No Name, as the New Romantics were first known

6  ➢ The Face and other power brokers of the fourth estate — a new media language for a new decade (1980)

7  ➢ First Blitz invasion of the US — Spandau Ballet and the Axiom fashion collective take Manhattan by storm (1981)

Blitz club, London 1979, Wilf, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth

Left, real Blitz Kids – right, the TV version… George’s boyfriend Wilf and fashion student Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

8  ➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV drama about Boy George’s teen years, Worried About the Boy

9  ➢ Hockney’s new vision of the world — Britain’s favourite artist reveals his insights into cubism (1983)

10  ➢ Paradise Point: live leaders of a new Brit pop blitz (2010)

i-D 1980

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style of photography is established with, at left, one then unknown New Romantic and, right, one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

11  ➢ ‘i-D counts more than fashion’ — launch of the
street-style bible in 1980

12  ➢ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

13  ➢ Who’s who in the New London Weekend — key clubs that set the capital swinging (1983)

14  ➢ Aside from the freaks, George, who else came to your 50th birthday party? (2011)

© Shapersofthe80s

Londres est arrivée au Palace, 1982: classic set, nouveaux styles. Pictures © by Shapersofthe80s

15  ➢ Steve Strange takes fashion to the French — six British designers rock Le Palace in Paris (1982)

16  ➢ Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace — power play among the new non-working class (1983)

17  ➢ Who are the New Romantics? — A mainstream deejay’s guide published by Disco International (1981)

Spandau Ballet, 1980

Houseband of the Blitz club: at the London megaclub Heaven Spandau Ballet play their tenth live date on 29 Dec 1980. From left, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, plus John Keeble on drums. © Shapersofthe80s

18  ➢ They said it — landmark quotes about the decade of change by the people who made it happen

19  ➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars from the un-lucrative 80s (2010)

20  ➢ Comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ — an enduring star who made 2010 her own

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➤ Essential pop-cultural 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 720,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly seen 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 — The much-plundered story originally researched 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.

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 its broadcast in 2010, this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George story 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 host 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 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 the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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➤ Visage: out of the 80s frying pan into the 21st-century fire

Steve Strange, Visage,Shameless Fashion

The face of Visage today: Steve Strange behaving shamelessly. Peter Ashworth Photography. Makeup by Lara Himpelmann

Visage 1979: Rusty Egan, John McGeoch, Barry Adamson, Dave Formula, Billy Currie, Steve Strange, Midge Ure. Photographed © by Sheila Rock

Visage 1979: Rusty Egan, John McGeoch, Barry Adamson, Dave Formula, Billy Currie, Steve Strange, Midge Ure. Photographed © by Sheila Rock

❚ THE STUDIO BAND VISAGE were central to defining the electropop sounds of 1980 thanks to the musical nous of Midge Ure, who had bought his first synthesiser in 1978 because he felt synths “embodied a kind of nostalgia for the future”. He’d been faffing around with Glen Matlock, Steve New and drummer Rusty Egan in the 60s-flavoured one-hit power pop group Rich Kids, and sensed an appetite in the zeitgeist for a more soulful version of Kraftwerk plus a return to melody. Intent on making vibrant dance music for the “visa age”, Ure dreamed up the name Visage for his new experimental band with Rusty Egan on drums.

They co-opted Rusty’s flamboyant Welsh pal Steve Strange as face-painted frontman to give visual expression to a range of what were being called “moderne” fashions. Dressing up in the face of a grinding economic recession was the destiny that Bowie’s children were to fulfil. Visage’s songs captured the sidelong humour and knowing irony that came to characterise the 80s, while their explosive backbeats, electronic fills and synth riffs changed the vocabulary of British chart pop. This TV generation dreamed in both sound and vision.

Supercool in ’78: Egan, Strange and Ure establish Visage

What Strange lacked in vocal proficiency he made up for in promotional value, since he soon became a walking advertisement for the cooler-than-cool clothes shop PX in Covent Garden where he was an assistant. Run by Stephane Raynor and Helen Robinson, they more than any other designers in 1980 set the template for New Romantics fashion, favouring oversized chemises, medieval doublets, breeches and frilly lace. The shop’s followers were soon dubbed posers, and the Pose Age was born. Disposable identities, portable events, looks not uniforms – for his disciples, Bowie’s imperatives became the norm.

As a studio project – the original lineup never played live – Visage probably was a case of too many cooks. The band took in several musicians, all of whom had other loyalties, while the creative drive came from Ure and Billy Currie. Even so, Currie was persuading the restless Ure to help resurrect the synth band Ultravox following John Foxx’s departure. By 1982 when Ure quit Visage in favour of Ultravox, Visage had enjoyed four top-20 singles hits in the UK and one top-ten album with The Anvil. As we now know, Ure went on to mastermind the Band Aid fundraising hit single and the subsequent Live Aid charity concert with Bob Geldof, and duly earned himself an OBE.

Visage, Fade to Grey,albumsIn 1984 a Visage lineup comprising Strange and Egan along with newer members Andy Barnett, Steve and Gary Barnacle put out a so-so third album, but when it flopped they soon called it a day. The truth was that Visage failed to invest single-mindedly in themselves as a musical enterprise: their progress simmered rather than blazed as individuals pursued their own favoured goals. Occasional tracks sizzled on the dancefloor – In the Year 2525, Fade to Grey, Mind of a Toy, Night Train – but the band lacked unity and commitment.

Nobody can deny Strange’s fizz and chutzpah which in 1979 coralled a disparate group of post-punk no-wavers and outcast fashionistas when he co-hosted the agenda-setting Neon Night at the Blitz Club in Covent Garden. It lit up London in an explosion of invention, gender-bending and ridiculous hair. As the club’s stand-out stars became media celebrities, these exponents of modern dance and stance began forcing the pace of change across the creative industries. Thanks also to Rusty Egan as a mould-breaking deejay, whose mixing did much to change the sound of clubland music, the pair went on to reshape London nightlife at two notable venues, Club for Heroes and the Camden Palace, during the early 80s. At the end of the decade, dance music as we knew it was swept aside by the craze for E’s and rave. Egan set out to make a fine reputation deejaying on London’s boutique nightclub circuit, while Strange can claim a ghosted autobiography as full of fantasy and foggy memories as you’d expect from an arch-poser who’d been out on the town every night for 20 years.

Roll forward to 2010. John Pitcher, who fronts a music services provider called MRC, established a Blitz Club record label and an associated website, and Strange and Egan launched it in January 2011 by throwing a Return to the Blitz party at the site of the former club. The event raised a few media ripples but little groundswell and only three remixes have been released in as many years. With 80s band revivals making waves all around them, that old Blitz magic had lost its charm. Egan said this week: “Pitcher registered everything for us, so he owns everything, including the website and the Visage brand.” Growing personal differences hindered collaboration between the three. These worsened last year when Egan made allegations that Strange had squandered a substantial sum of accrued Visage royalties paid via Strange and that he failed to share them among the original lineup. This week Egan said: “Try telling John McGeoch’s daughter her dad’s [share] was spent by Strange.”

Visage, Steve Barnacle, Steve Strange, Lauren Duvall , Robin Simon

Visage 2013: Steve Barnacle, the inimitable Steve Strange, Lauren Duvall and Robin Simon. Photography © by David Levine

When Strange proposed reviving the band name of Visage after almost 30 years, neither Ure nor Egan could see the point and they disputed Strange’s right to do so. Ure told an American newspaper in January: “Visage was always something Rusty Egan and I created and controlled. The idea of doing a Visage 2 was never appealing to me so I wasn’t interested. I walked away from Visage when it got ridiculous and supremely hedonistic and I will probably leave it that way.” In response to Strange’s claim on German TV last November that Ure was collaborating on a new album together, Ure tweeted: “He is deluded if he thinks that. He knows that isn’t happening.”

EARLIER BACKGROUND

➢ 2013, A couple of slaps in the Visage
as Strange and Egan squabble

Rusty Egan remains aggrieved that Strange has not resolved recent differences. He is angry that Strange should make any claim to creative input into Visage’s lyrics and music, and maintained this week: “Strange had nothing to do with the music in The Blitz or Visage.” In January Egan said: “There has never been a Visage album without me. It’s my group and Strange is a singer. He is not Visage.”

Yet for all this, and Strange’s sad personal saga of ill-health, the vocalist has doggedly set about persuading a new circle of supporters to bring Visage back to life. In the face of widespread disbelief – the garrulous Strange’s little weakness, after all, has always been for exaggeration and melodrama – last year he announced a new “Visage” lineup, with a gorgeous singer called Lauren Duvall, plus Steve Barnacle (fretless bass) and Robin Simon (guitar). Keyboardist Mick MacNeil, from Simple Minds, was enlisted to contribute on a range of vintage analogue synthesisers which include an early Moog Source.

At last, what is being called a fourth “Visage” album titled Hearts and Knives is due to be released on May 27.

“It has been 29 years since the last Visage album and during that period it often seems like we have all lived through several lifetimes,” says Strange. Indeed, “bruised and wounded” declare the rueful lyrics of Shameless Fashion, the new group’s first single, available this week. It isn’t clear whether this refers to the very many contributors we see jostling for credits on the new “Visage” packaging. The Visage 2013 camp is probably keeping fingers crossed.

➢ A free download of the new single Shameless Fashion is available from today at the Visage website

➢ 1980 at the Blitz, Strange days, strange nights, strange people

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➤ A couple of slaps in the Visage

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❚ OOPS! RECENT RUSTLINGS IN THE DOVECOTE suggest all is not well between founder members of the 80s synthpop band Visage who gave the world The Anvil and a couple of other albums and confirmed Steve Strange as king of the pop posers.

Talks about talks to make their first album since Visage fell apart in 1984 have been going on for a year or more but the three founding members – synth pioneer Midge Ure, drummer Rusty Egan and vocalist Steve Strange – haven’t seen eye to eye since last summer. Then in November differences went public when Strange performed their biggest hit Fade to Grey on German TV [see video above] and in the ensuing interview he claimed that Midge Ure was still collaborating. At the three-minute mark Strange says: “We’re in the studio now doing a new fourth album with Midge Ure – Midge is writing the songs with me.” When a Tweeter asked if this was true, Ure’s denial was immediate: “He is deluded if he thinks that. He knows that isn’t happening.”

Midge Ure, Visage

Before Christmas Egan suddenly went public with a serious allegation about Strange’s handling of a substantial Visage royalties payment (accumulated revenue intended for all members of the 80s band) which he had allegedly received in 2004. I asked Egan whether his move was a little unwise, and he replied: “Sorry to say but as Steve Strange is blaming the hold up of Visage on me. I just can’t listen to any more of his complete rubbish. There is NO VISAGE ALBUM. There is Steve Stange [sic] and some blokes cashing in on the success of Ultravox.”

The same day Strange tweeted [below]: “there are 2 sides 2 every story”.

Steve Strange, Visage

Dozens of fans piled into Facebook to comment and in the first week of January Strange typed erratically: “thank you all 4 bringn 2my attention it s,ilegall slanderous lies by an ex member of Visage. As an agreement,we as a 4 piece ?4igned an agreement not 2 mention ,this story ? As this person is talkn in. public a lega restraining order is soon to be put in place .tThis Visage album will not be derailed .”

Only days later Strange announced to the world on Facebook “The New Visage Line up” in a glam studio portrait [below] which showed him beneath a marcel wave alongside Lauren Duvall, Steve Barnacle and Robin Simon. Strange commented on the pre-Christmas allegations: “There s always got ? Too be , the voice of doom n gloom. Not a band reunion a new lineup.” [sic]

This week a despairing Facebook follower asked Egan why the pair couldn’t resolve their differences. Yesterday Egan replied: “the way was to make a visage record and Steve repay ——* royalties. We failed.”
[* word deleted by Shapersofthe80s]

➢ 2010, Feast of remixes on new ‘Very Best’ of Visage album

Visage 2013, Steve Barnacle, Steve Strange, Lauren Duvall ,Robin Simon

Visage 2013: Steve Barnacle, the inimitable Steve Strange, Lauren Duvall and Robin Simon. Photography © by David Levine

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2012 ➤ Style.com nods to Sade Adu’s fashion legacy

Sade Adu, singer, Beauty Icon ,fashion,Style dotcom,Melissa Caplan,Blitz Kids, US invasion,Demob , Steve Strange, Le Palace , Paris, 1981
❚ “JEAN PAUL GAULTIER SENT SADE LOOK-ALIKES down his Spring-Summer runway last month, and Olivier Rousteing borrowed her signature hoops and shoulder pads for his Balmain collection. The up-and-coming British soul star Jessie Ware owes everything to Sade, down to her painted lips and single braid.” So says the prestige fashion website Style.com today in its Beauty Icon spot. “As it turns out, fashion has played no small role in the life of Helen Folasade Adu,” it adds, while sketching her distinctive contribution to music and style.

Best of all, Style.com includes a classic early shot of Sade taken by Shapersofthe80s, long before she became a singer, when she modelled clothes by Melissa Caplan in New York during the now legendary invasion of America by London’s trend-setting Blitz Kids in 1981. Catch our eye-witness report inside:

1981 — Pix of Sade’s Demob designs during the first
Blitz invasion of the US

Jean Paul Gautier, Spring Summer 2013,Sade Adu, fashion,pop music

Jean Paul Gaultier’s take on the Sade style of ponytail and hoop earrings: one of many 80s tributes in his Spring Summer 2013 runway show last month in Paris

1982 — Pix of Sade helping backstage during Steve Strange’s fashion show in Paris

2010 — Shapersofthe80s finds comeback Shard comfy
as ‘Auntie Sade’

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