London (AFP) - The flamboyant Steve Strange, lead singer of 1980s British pop band Visage, has died aged 55, his record label said on Thursday.
Known as a pioneer of the New Romantic movement, Strange suffered a fatal heart attack in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on Thursday (Feb 12).
"Steve died in his sleep of heart failure," said Marc Green, label manager at August Day Recordings. "Steve's family, band members and friends are all distraught at this sudden news of his untimely death."
Born Steven John Harrington in south east Wales, Strange became involved in music after attending a Sex Pistols concert in 1976.
Aged 15, Strange went to work for Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McClaren, and was later nicknamed the "Peacock Prince".
He went on to set up The Blitz Club in the London entertainment district of Soho, which became a focal point of the New Romantic movement of the early 1980s, influenced by British music legend David Bowie and associated with sythesizers and eccentric fashion.
A young Boy George worked in its cloakroom, and British bands Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Boy George's Culture Club got their start in the club before rising to fame.
"I remember David Bowie coming to the club because he had heard how bizarre it was," Strange told the Independent newspaper in 2000.
"It was about showing your creative side, and about showing that you'd taken time and effort in what you had created," Strange said.
"It was about classic style and being outrageous, but done with an element of taste." Formed in 1979, his band Visage had a breakthrough record with Fade To Grey, which topped charts in several countries and released two successful albums.
But a years-long addiction to heroin began after Strange sniffed a line of the drug, thinking it was cocaine, after modelling at a Jean-Paul Gaultier show in Paris in 1985.
He described it years later as "the worst mistake that I ever made in my life".
Difficult times followed for Strange as he struggled with health difficulties and declining wealth, and he was convicted of shoplifting a child's toy and cosmetics in 2000.
More recently, Strange released a new album with Visage in 2013, and recorded a classical interpretation of Fade To Grey last year.