Day 33: ‘Fade to Grey’ by Visage

I couldn’t let this project unfold without including this seminal piece of electropop.
Steve Strange was born about ten years before me, in Newbridge (Monmouthshire), and fled to London as soon as he could. A couple of years ago, he gave an interview to the BBC. He said he hadn’t wanted to work down a coal mine and he hadn’t wanted to play rugby – so what else could he do? That rang a very loud bell with me.
In London he was able to reinvent himself, and he became one of the leaders of the New Romantic subculture. As one of the most distinctive characters on the London style scene, he was featured in all the trendy magazines and also appeared in the video for David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (see Day 86).
Teaming up with a floating group of like-minded musicians, including the guys from Ultravox (see Day 20), he formed Visage as a spin-off from the legendary Blitz club. Soon afterwards this single came out. ‘Fade to Grey’ starts with a young man sitting on a railway platform, leaving his hometown for somewhere more salubrious. They say you should always write about what you know, don’t they?
Talk about right place, right time – Gary Numan, the Human League, Depeche Mode, and all the other synth bands were starting to make an impact. ‘Fade to Grey’ scored a number 8 hit in the UK charts in the winter of 1980–1, proving beyond doubt that the next wave of pop music was well under way. A year later you couldn’t turn on your radio without hearing a synth, a drum machine, or both.
Steve himself led a troubled life; problems with drugs and run-ins with the law plagued him during his later years. He died in February 2015, aged 55, after suffering a heart attack in Spain. That night I asked my mate Gareth to play this as part of his 1980s night in the pub. He’d never heard it before. He loved it, and now it’s a regular playlist item. ‘Nuff said!
Steve Strange – lead vocals; Brigitte Arens – French vocals; Midge Ure – backing vocals; Rusty Egan – backing vocals; Billy Currie – synthesizer, electric violin; Chris Payne – synthesizer, viola; Cedric Sharpley – drums, electronic drums programming


  1. Moi · December 3, 2015

    This was a great tune, I’ll admit I am not really knowledgeable about any other Visage tracks, but I am old enough to remember this on top of the pops lol


    • Steve O'Gorman · December 4, 2015

      Same here. The rest of their output wasn’t especially memorable, but this is a work of art.

      Liked by 1 person

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