Steve Strange Archive

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection consists of notebooks with song lyrics, publications, photographs and CDs relating to Steve Strange and members of Visage band.

Administrative / Biographical History

Steve Strange (Steven John Harrington) (1959 – 2015) was one of the most influential figures in the London club circuit that launched the New Romantic movement of the early 1980s, and a pop star with his own band, Visage. Strange was the flamboyant host of string of nightclubs that powerfully influenced the London fashion and music scenes in the aftermath of punk. Strange famously stood at the door to the Blitz Club and judged who would be allowed in, he enjoyed huge publicity when he turned away Mick Jagger. As well as being frequented by the filmmaker Derek Jarman, Siouxsie Sioux and Depeche Mode and fashion designers such as Antony Price and Zandra Rhodes, the Blitz was the launchpad for the career of Spandau Ballet, who played there on Thursday nights. “We are making the most contemporary statement in fashion and music,” said the band’s songwriter and guitarist Gary Kemp. In 1979, Strange formed the band Visage with Rusty Egan and Midge Ure and they released the unsuccessful single Tar. It was the intervention of David Bowie that put them on the map. Bowie recruited Strange to appear in his video for Ashes to Ashes, which hugely boosted Strange’s profile when the song went to No.1 in 1980. The same year, Visage released their career defining song Fade to Grey, and enjoyed international success with their debut album. A follow up single The Damned Don’t Cry also enjoyed chart success. Strange began spending periods of time in Ibiza, where he became involved in the developing trance music scene and he hosted the Double Bass club, before returning to London in the 1990s. After battling drug addiction, Strange re-formed Visage in 2004, and recorded the song Dairies of a Madman. In 2006, he co-wrote and performed on the track In The Dark for the electronic duo Punx Soundcheck, and in 2013 a new Visage album, Hearts and Knives, was released (their first collection of new material for 29 years). The band played dates in the UK and Europe, and in 2014 recorded a new version of Fade to Grey. Steve Strange died of a heart attack in 2015.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only.Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gillian Harrington, Gift, 2016.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with collection management policy.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to Steve Strange may be found in several collections, including biographical, production, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.