Friday, February 13, 2015
Whenever someone near to my own age who is well-known, or even just known to me, dies, it gives me pause. It’s that whole reminding me of my own mortality thing, because it reminds me of the fragility of my life, and that, statistically, the years ahead of me are more than likely to be fewer than the ones behind me.
Today I heard that Steve Strange (real name Steven John Harrington), one of the centres of the New Romantic movement in the 1980s, and lead singer of Visage, died of a heart attack aged 55. He was a little over four months younger than me, and he was also part of my youth.
The only Visage song I knew was also their biggest hit, “Fade to Grey” (video above). I loved that song when it was new, and it’s one of the few from that era that I sought out in digital form. The song reached Number 6 in Australia, Number 8 in the UK and Number 10 in New Zealand. I have no idea how well it did in the USA, but in those days I didn’t much care about such things.
I found out today that Steve Strange was also in the video for David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” (see below), and I see him clearly in one frame at least. That was before “Fade To Grey”. I also learned that he was one of the leading club promoters of what came to be called the New Romantic sound.
But this isn’t really about Steve Strange as such, much as I like that one Visage song. Instead, this is about the extreme discomfort I feel when I hear about an age peer dying. When my high school friend Hector died, I described it as being like the wind was knocked out of me. When someone who I didn’t know—but who was nevertheless significant in my life—dies, it also affects me. When the person is the same age as me, more or less, the effect is magnified.
Over the years, many famous people who were a touchstone from my childhood or youth or early adulthood have died, and each time I’ve felt a twinge of loss, though more a reminder of lost youth. When an age-peer dies—whether close to me or a famous stranger—I think of my own possible mortality, and that’s something I never did when I was younger.
Statistically, the years ahead of me are more than likely to be fewer than the ones behind me. I know that. But when another part of my youth dies, I’m forced to face that fact. When the person is an age-peer, I find myself realising that there, but for the grace of whatever, go I.
Fade to grey.
Update: I'd originally posted the video for "Ashes to Ashes", but that video has been made private, so I've replaced it with a version from DailyMotion. I also found more on the making of the video, including some stills, as well as more about the outfits they wore.
DAVID BOWIE - ASHES TO ASHES by hushhush112