Visage began in 1978 when Steve Strange and Blitz Club partner-in-crime, Rusty Egan, joined forces with Midge Ure to create a futuristic, synthesizer-led group where style and fashion were matched with experimental, yet accessible music. They recorded their first demos in EMIs Manchester Square studios and soon honed a futuristic, synthesizer-based sound. They recorded their first single "Tar" with Martin Rushent at his Genetic Studio in 1978 (shortly to become the birthplace of the Human League's "Dare" album).
Later in 1978 the group was augmented with members of Magazine (John McGeoch, Dave Formula and Barry Adamson) and Billy Currie from the soon to be leaderless John Foxx incarnation of Ultravox. Their breakthrough track "Fade To Grey" was written with Chris Payne, the keyboard player from Gary Numan’s touring band. It became a European hit and reached number one in eight countries in 1980. The band enjoyed follow up success with the singles "Mind Of A Toy" and "Visage".
In 1980 Midge Ure and Billy Currie returned to the newly reformed Ultravox and recorded the "Vienna" and "Rage In Eden" albums. The pair returned to Visage in 1981 to begin work on the second album. By this time John McGeoch had left to join Siouxsie and the Banshees. "The Anvil" was released in 1982 and named after a nightclub in New York City. It spawned the hit singles "Night Train", "The Anvil" and "The Damned Don’t Cry". Shortly after, Midge Ure and Billy Currie left to concentrate on what became one of the biggest bands of the early 80s, Ultravox. Steve Barnacle joined to replace bass player Barry Adamson in 1982 and played a key role in creating the stand alone single "Pleasure Boys", released in October 1982.
By this point in 1983, Steve Strange had shot to stardom throughout Europe and he and Rusty Egan focused on their fashion and nightclub endeavours, primarily The Camden Palace and Club For Heroes. The pair shared a house in Kensington with their manager (they each had a floor) and it was here that they plotted the next album. Dave Formula left in 1983 and was replaced with guitarist Andy Barnett and saxophone player (and brother of Steve), Andy Barnacle.
In 1984 the third Visage album "Beat Boy" was released. The single "Love Glove" became a hit throughout Europe and the "Beat Boy" single followed. Steve Strange has been through his own share of highs and lows through the years. His emergence as a fashion and style icon of the 80s and beyond is one of the many highs.
Steve Strange had always believed that Visage had not yet reached its endpoint. Post 2000, he began a series of low key live appearances where he would play Visage material. In 2011 he and Rusty hosted a "Return to The Blitz Club" night and began to discuss a fourth album for Visage. Creative differences however saw Rusty leave Visage shortly after. Steve Strange and Steve Barnacle now formed the core plus the addition of ex Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon. He brought in not only a large slice of shared musical DNA (that "Visage sound") to the project but also his own distinctive style. Lauren Duvall, who was a feature of the live shows since 2009 also formally joined, adding a slice of the classic Visage glamour.
In 2013 the fourth Visage album "Hearts and Knives" was released. The title was not only a paraphrased lyric from the lead single "Shameless Fashion" but also a metaphor for the past 29 years of Steve Strange and Visage. The first song to be written for the album was co-written with former Visage and Magazine keyboard player Dave Formula. "Diaries Of A Madman". Mick MacNeil the creative musical core of Simple Minds contributed to two songs, "She's Electric (Coming Around)" and the radio friendly "Dreamer I Know" (which was also co-written with bass played from Killing Joke, Youth). The comeback was successfully received and had six tracks released as singles.
In 2014 Visage were invited to play alongside a 30 piece Orchestra to close the World Ski Jumping Championships. This led to the band putting a new spin on the traditional "Greatest Hits" album, by performing new versions of their most loved songs backed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Synthosynphonica Orchestra. The "Orchestral" album featured a new eight-minute-long symphonic version of "Fade To Grey" as its lead single. Logan Sky, live synthesist since 2009, now joined the band.
In February 2015 Steve Strange sadly died whilst on holiday in Egypt. The world had lost one of its most creative music and fashion icons of recent years. After the shock of losing their leader the band rather than leave the fifth and final studio album uncompleted, decided to press on and complete “Demons To Diamonds”. The album cover art was photographed by Boy George. Musical contributions came Mick MacNeil, Didier Marouani ( Space “Magic Fly”) and featured a cover version of the David Bowie song “Loving The Alien”.
With the loss of their inspirational and majestic leader, Visage decided to disband in 2015 after the release of their final work. Their body of work consists of five studio albums, numerous singles and numerous compilations. For the first time in 2016 - and with the participation of all Visage record labels - the compilation “The Wild Life (1978-2015)” was the first release to bring all of their best loved songs together into one definitive release.