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Singer Steve Strange of '80s band Visage dies at 55

"He was the leading edge of New Romantic. God bless him." - Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon

By Doug G Ware

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Steve Strange, the flamboyant lead singer for the 1980s New Romantic band Visage, died Thursday of heart failure at the age of 55, his music label announced.

Strange, whose birth name was Steven John Harrington, began his music career in the late 1970s with bands such as The Moors Murderers and the Photons -- inspired by a Sex Pistols concert in Great Britain in 1976.

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The singer was admitted to a British hospital in December for treatment of respiratory difficulties and intestinal blockage, Variety reported Thursday. The cause of death was detailed as heart failure.

Strange formed Visage in 1978, along with musicians Rusty Egan and Midge Ure of Ultravox and Band Aid fame. He was connected with many of the 1980s' most well-known British bands, such as Spandau Ballet and Boy George's Culture Club. Visage's biggest hit, "Fade to Grey," topped charts in Germany and Switzerland in late 1980 -- and peaked at Nos. 8 and 39 in Britain and the U.S., respectively, although it didn't chart in the U.S. until 13 years after its release.

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The band produced two successful albums before splitting up in 1985.

Strange and Egan operated a nightclub in London, Blitz, which was a popular hangout for the New Romantic genre and featured many popular bands of the day.

Strange was also particularly noted for his fashion trends, which included facepaint, tribal makeup and boisterous hairstyles. He also battled a heroin addiction and had a nervous breakdown, which he detailed in his 2002 autobiography.

Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon expressed grief on his Twitter account Thursday.

"I'm very sad to announce that our friend Steve Strange has died in Egypt today," Le Bon tweeted. "He was the leading edge of New Romantic. God Bless him." Fellow 1980s musician Billy Idol also expressed sadness over Strange's death, according to BBC News.

Strange's agent, Pete Bassett, said Thursday that the musician will always be remembered for his dedication to music and for being on the forefront of fashion.

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Marc Green, label manager at August Day Recordings, said Strange died at 11:15 local time in an Egyptian hospital, ITV reported.

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