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KING OF THE NIGHT

STEVE STRANGE WAS, WITHOUT NECESSARILY KNOWING IT, THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THE NEW ROMANTIC MOVEMENT, BUT THIS WAS JUST ONE UNINTENTIONAL OUTCOME IN A LIFE FULL OF SUCCESS, EXCESS AND DISASTER. CLASSIC POP TRACES THE EXTRAORDINARY MISADVENTURES OF THE MAN FROM SOUTH WALES WHO BECAME BOTH A LEGEND AND A LIABILITY…
Eccentric, creative, inspiring: Steve Strange was the smalltown boy who reinvented himself to become one of the capital’s best-known faces

Steve Strange could have claimed to be ‘the only gay in the village’ long before the Little Britain character Daffyd Thomas muttered the words. Mind you, he could also have claimed to be the only bisexual/whatever sexual, the only punk rocker and, of course, the only New Romantic in his particular village. Growing up in a small South Wales town where masculinity was very much at the fore, Strange deliberately stood out from the crowd for all sorts of reasons… although he wasn’t Strange in name back then.

Strange’s real name was Stephen Harrington. He was born in South Wales in 1959 but grew up on North Wales coast where his father – an ex-military womaniser who Harrington despised, largely because of his violent tendencies and army strictness – ran a series of guest houses. Steve learned to hustle and steal from the local arcades and spent much of the rewards feeding an early love of fashion before returning to Newbridge, South Wales to live with his mother after his parents finally divorced.

HARRINGTON BECAME FASCINATED BY JOHN HURT IN THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT, WHICH NOT ONLY MADE HIM START QUESTIONING HIS OWN SEXUALITY BUT ENCOURAGED HIM TO EXPERIMENT WITH EVEN MORE OUTLANDISH LOOKS

Music was also a huge part of his upbringing, his first devotions split between the look and sound of David Bowie and frantic, speed-fed, 48-hour weekends of Northern Soul at the legendary Wigan Casino club. After breaking into a pharmacy to feed the speed, Steve had his first run-in with the police at just 14 years of age and ended up in borstal for a couple of weeks. That got him barred from any more Wigan trips by his mother, so he turned his attention to his local scene. At the same time, Harrington became fascinated by John Hurt in The Naked Civil Servant, a film which not only made him start questioning his own sexuality but also encouraged him to experiment with even more outlandish looks. But he wasn’t alone, and with other like-minded friends, Harrington started to become wellknown on the Newport and Cardiff social circuits.

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About Classic Pop Presents

In our latest Classic Pop Presents special, we immerse ourselves in the flamboyant world of the New Romantics. From the scene's origins as an underground movement born out of the Blitz Club in Soho through to the worldwide surge of popularity that led to mainstream success for some of the major players who made their musical mark, such as Boy George, Spandau Ballet, Visage and Duran Duran. Inside we tell the story of the Godfather of the scene, Steve Strange, and explore his pioneering band Visage with the help of Blitz DJ and band member Rusty Egan and fellow band-mate Midge Ure, who moved on to front Ultravox. We chat to Spandau Ballet's Steve Norman, who guides us through the making of their game-changing debut album Journeys To Glory, plus we head up to the Midlands to the Rum Runner club, which gave rise to another of the scene's major success stories, Duran Duran. This issue has plenty more to be enjoyed, including an exploration of David Bowie's influence on the movement plus eye-opening interviews with some of the scene's faces to get their side of this fascinating era, including Toyah, Princess Julia and Mark Shaw. Raconteur, author, DJ – and Soho's Wag Club founder – Chris Sullivan shares his hilarious memories of the times, and we strut the cat-walk with Blitz Kids, fashion designer Judith Franklin and photographer Graham Smith for our New Romantic fashion feature. Also inside, there's our Top 40 Essential New Romantic playlist, the design styles and artwork of the scene's many fine releases, and all with stunning photos throughout!