Visage Biography

A synthesizer ‘jamming’ band fronted by Steve Strange (Steve Harrington, 28 May 1959, Wales), with other members including Midge Ure (b. James Ure, 10 October 1953, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland; guitar), Rusty Egan (b. 19 September 1957), Billy Currie (b. William Lee Currie, 1 April 1950, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England; violin), Dave Formula (keyboards), John McGeoch (b. 28 May 1955, Greenock, Strathclyde, Scotland, d. 4 March 2004, London, England; guitar) and Barry Adamson (b. 1 June 1958, Moss Side, Manchester, England; bass). The last three were all members of Magazine. Ure rose to fame with teenybopper stars Slik before joining the Rich Kids with whom Egan played drums. Both Egan and Ure also played in the short-lived Misfits during 1979, before Egan briefly joined the Skids and Ure linked with Thin Lizzy, then replaced John Foxx in Ultravox. Currie was also in both Ultravox and Visage, not to mention Gary Numan’s band at more or less the same time.

The roots of Visage came about in late 1978 when Ure and Strange recorded a cover version of the old Zager And Evans hit ‘In The Year 2525’ as a demo for EMI Records, but had it turned down. The duo started recruiting instead, picking up the above-named musicians for rehearsals. The demo was hawked to Radar Records who signed them and released their first single, September 1979’s ‘Tar’, which concerned the joys of smoking. The track was produced by Martin Rushent. Any hopes of releasing a follow-up on the label were dashed when Radar’s parent company pulled the purse strings tight and wound up the label. Polydor Records picked up the band and were rewarded with a massive UK Top 10 hit in late 1980/early 1981 with ‘Fade To Grey’, which fitted in with the burgeoning synthesizer pop scene of the early 80s. Although the band members had other commitments, Visage made a brief effort to continue their existence. The third single, ‘Mind Of A Toy’, with its memorable Godley And Creme -produced video (their first), was a Top 20 hit but subsequent singles were released at greater and greater intervals and, apart from the Top 20 hits ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ and ‘Night Train’, did increasingly less well. Ure and Adamson left following the release of The Anvil, which featured saxophonist Gary Barnacle, and further personnel upheavals occurred when Currie and Formula left during the recording of Beat Boy. The band eventually fizzled out in the mid-80s, with Strange forming Strange Cruise with Wendy Wu (ex-Photos).

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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