‘The Music Industry Is A Lesser Place Without Him’: Remembering Steve Strange, UPDATED
– Steve Strange.
Co-founder of X-ray Touring.
The tributes to one of the great agents in the game, Steve Strange, who passed away in the early hours of Saturday night, Sept. 25, keep pouring in – and will for some time.
To learn more about Strange’s personal and professional history, head to Pollstar’s Executive Profile on him. Here, we’re just going to collect all the heartfelt words of condolence dedicated to a unique human being by all accounts.
Emma Banks, CAA:
“Many legends are mythical, Steve Strange was not. He was a real living breathing human being who was unique. His joy for living was infectious. His singing, his snoring – you could always hear Steve before you saw him!
“His generosity, both with time and money, was unparalleled. He loved his clients, he loved his family, he loved his friends – nothing was ever too much trouble for Steve.
“We had so many good times together, so many long chats and so much laughter. Steve’s vibe was great, it was huge, you would forgive him almost anything.
“The music industry is a lesser place without him, he leaves a hole impossible to fill but everyone will need to try that bit harder without him here.
“There is a Jack London quote at the end of the new James Bond film that I think sums up Steve admirably: ‘The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.’
“Steve used his time and he used it magnificently.”
Toby Leighton-Pope, AEG Presents:
“Steve was part of the Leighton-Pope family, we all loved him. I called my dad at 1 a.m. Saturday knowing he would want to be woken up to hear the sad news.
“Dad loved him and would have happily taken him on as a third son. Both my brother Jake and Andrew had a special relationship with him and he always included us when ever we saw him. We will miss him so much.
“Toby and all the Leighton-Pope family.”
Carl Leighton-Pop, The Leighton-Pope Organisaion:
“Steve Strange obviously was phenomenally successful, but I wasn’t interested in that. I just liked him. He was a really positive, beautiful soul. Every time I saw him, we just laughed together. It was infectious, when he laughed I laughed.
“I saw him an awful lot in the Sunset Marquis, which is a hotel in in Los Angeles, he had a home near there. We would get together in there for food and a couple of drinks. Obviously I’m almost 25 years older than him, you would expect me to not be in his world, but for some reason, he and I had some chemistry that worked between us. That’s all I can say. I absolutely loved him.”
Rob Challice, Paradigm:
“I first met Steve in the early 1990s when he was promoting shows in Belfast following a stint as agent in London that did not work out. First thing that struck me was his passion for live music coupled with his incredible understanding of what was right for the band. I invited him to join my small agency (F.A.B.) and he returned to London with a mission to succeed the second time around as an agent.
“Through tenacious hard work he built a great roster of new acts (Ash, Placebo etc.) , sending them out on lengthy tours. I used to marvel at the way he was so effective at selling a band to a promoter and getting the deal ‘done and dusted’. Inevitably he joined a larger company two years later (Solo) and we stayed in touch over the years.
“I got to hang out with him at his house in LA pre-COVID, and it was great to see him so relaxed and settled. Steve deserved every bit of his success; he had a big heart and knew how to look after people, he had principles and he knew how to create great times. The music business has lost one of its greatest stars.”
Alex Hardee, Paradigm:
“When the other Steve Strange died a few years ago, the one from Visage, I jokingly rang the real Steve up and said, ‘Steve I have jumped the gun here, when you speak to [Coldplay manager] Dave Holmes, tell him to delete the phone messages I have left.’
“He said, ‘okay, no problem, but I have to go to a meeting’. I tried to explain to him that it was a joke, but he seemed too focused on the urgent meeting to acknowledge that. I said ‘bye,’ he thought he had put the phone down, but I could hear him say, ‘double chips, double eggs, double beans, double sausage, and double bacon’.
“When he became ill, he told everyone that he was on a ‘health kick’. I heard that he didn’t want people to know as, in his words, he didn’t want the vultures to descend upon his legacy. One, it makes me sad because it speaks volumes about the industry we work in and which he loved. Two, it’s even sadder for me as I never had the chance to say good bye to him properly, I just didn’t twig that he was really ill.
“Legend, heart, warmth , sociable , big character, lovable, and unique are all words that will be used to describe him in other people’s testimonies. But I think he was a one-off. Nothing can describe him, and nothing can fill the void that he has left. Heaven has just become a lot more interesting. We love you Steve!”
Steve Homer, AEG Presents:
“He gave me my first act when I started at Mean Fiddler in 1998, Paradise Motel. He stuck his neck out for me and I never forgot that. I worked with him on Eminem in the early days when he exploded, and the same with Queens of the Stone Age and more recently Thunder and Seasick Steve.
“He always had his artists at the forefront of his mind. There has never been anyone like him and there never will be again. RIP rocker.”
Neil Warnock, MBE, Head of Worldwide Touring for UTA:
“I can’t believe we have lost Steve Strange. He was an absolute icon in the world of music. He was a fan of all music genres who was at the top of his game. I’ve lost a true friend and the industry has lost a larger-than-life character.”
John Giddings, Solo:
“We are all still in shock. He was one of a kind. It was actually John Curd of all people who recommended Steve to me, and as soon as he started at Solo it was obvious that he had a great career ahead of him.
“His passion and enthusiasm for music set him apart, he would always light up a room, was great fun to be with. He was a loyal friend and colleague, I am proud to have known him and worked with him, a good bloke, whose word counted for something.
“Rest in peace Steve. I can still hear that bloody laugh!!”
Jim King, AEG Presents:
“I think his friends at X-ray said it perfectly in that he was respected and loved by all those who knew and worked with him.
“What really shone through to me was that he just loved people. He was so warm, funny and welcoming to everyone he met and the room always lit up with his presence.
“He was helpful to so many of us in our careers and he was a true giant in our industry but more importantly, he was a throughly decent person who enriched the lives of everyone who had the pleasure of being in his company.
“He will be greatly and so sadly missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace, Steve.”
Barry Dickins, ITB:
“Steve had great ears. There are two or three agents at the top, in my opinion, that have great ears, and he was certainly one of them.
“We came very close to employing him many years ago, probably a big mistake that we didn’t. I can’t remember why, maybe because I thought he was a little bit crazy, which he was, but in the nicest way possible. He worked very hard, and he played hard. This guy could party with the best.
“At the end of the day, being an agent or manager is one thing. But being a nice person is even more important. One year, my daughter [Lucy Dickins, co-head of Music at WME] was nominated as Agent of the Year and was up against Steve Strange. And even though he lost to Lucy, he sent over a bottles of champagne. That’s the guy he was. Lucy was very fond of Steve, and I don’t know anybody who wasn’t.
“The world will be a sadder place without Steve, a character. There’s not many characters now, it’s all very corporate. But he was a character, one of the last. His clients absolutely loved him. May he rest in peace.”
Lucy Dickins, WME:
“Not only an absolute legend but one of the kindest hearts in the business. He supported me always. Steve will be hugely missed but never forgotten. I can still hear that infectious laugh. Everybody will have a fun story of a night with Steve, he really was simply the best.”
Phil Bowdery, Live Nation:
“He was a force of nature, a complete one off, but also a very special person and an incredible agent. I will sadly miss our conversations on all things from drummers to the best stadium to play in some far away country.”