Tributes To Northern Ireland Music Legend Steve Strange Flood Social Media

By Tina Calder & Jonathan Traynor

Tributes have been paid to one of the giants of the global music industry, Northern Irish man, Steve Strange, who died after a short illness aged 53.

From playing in local bands, learning the ropes of booking in the Limelight, Strange co-founded one of the largest booking agencies in the world, X-Ray Touring.

Over the years Steve, better known to his friends as “Stevie”, represented some of the biggest names in the music business and was instrumental in bringing many of those names to Northern Ireland.

X-Ray Touring, headed up by Steve, looked after superstars from Eminem, Green Day, Linkin Park and Robbie Williams to Coldplay, The Offspring, Blur, Queens of the Stone Age and the Smashing Pumpkins.

The statement from X-Ray Touring said: “We have lost a legendary figure in our personal and professional lives that we will all deeply miss.

“Steve was a unique individual within our industry, his overwhelming love of music lead to a 30 year plus career guiding the touring of an eclectic mix of artists from all genres of music that he adored.

“He will always be remembered with love by his friends & colleagues at X-ray and the world over.”

Friend Ian “Speedo” Wilson of rock band Sweet Savage said Steve never forgot his Northern Ireland roots and always worked hard to support the music industry at home.

Thanks to Steve, Ian and his bandmates had the opportunity to play on world stages supporting artists such as Iron Maiden, Wacken, Saxon, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top and many more.

“I first met Stevie in the Rosetta bar back in the 80’s, he was a lovely, funny guy (and a very talented drummer) who went on to become a colossus in the music industry” said Ian.

“He never forgot his roots and was generous to everyone around him. 

“Personally I will always be so grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to play on the world stage. We have truly lost a wonderful human. Rest in peace my friend.”

Ray Haller also of Sweet Savage and a close friend of Steve said: “Where do I start, Steve was brilliant, caring, generous. He was very witty, loved life and people, he was a genius.

“Steve got Sweet Savage at all the legendary huge rock festivals all over Europe. Endless tours and got us two record deals and introduced us to numerous influential people within the music industry.

“If I was to tell you all the things that Steve has done for numerous musicians in Northern Ireland I would still be talking next Saturday.

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis said: “So sad to hear the news about music agent and industry legend Steve Strange passing.

“He was always so kind to us here at Glastonbury and a lovely man to deal with. We will miss you sir and your infectious laugh.”

Strange began playing drums in local bands in the late 80s including Slack Alice, before taking on booking in the Limelight, with a desk in a cloakroom.

His interest in playing continued with Northern Ireland’s No Hot Ashes, for their most recent album and live shows.

Strange managed the Eagles of Death Metal, and was playing at a music festival when he learnt of the tragic shooting at Paris’ Bataclan, and much as he lost people close to him, he still took to the stage for an emotional set.

Fellow drummer Stevie Shanks of Flash Harry said: “I’m gutted to hear about Stevie. I got him his first gig for Slack Alice back in 1984. I worked with his dad. He would have been around 15 at the time. His enthusiasm back then was amazing.”

Northern Ireland’s Ash referenced one of their own songs, describing him as “Our Shining Light”.

The band said: “Our hearts are broken. Goodnight Mr. Steve Strange. Agent extraordinaire. The heart of a lion. Straight outta Carrick, he changed this business forever.”

Tim Burgess of the Charlatans said: “Our agent, our friend and one of life’s most gloriously upbeat people. You will be missed, celebrated and remembered so fondly.”

Ricky Warwick of The Almighty and Thin Lizzy shared a tribute on Facebook to Steve saying: “I lost a dear friend, legend and fellow countryman today. I’m so sad. Steve Strange I will miss that unmistakable infectious laugh, your positivity and kind heart, they certainly broke the mould when they made you Steve.”

Rock guitarist/violinist Pat McManus said Steve was “absolutely dedicated to getting the best for the bands he represented”.

He added: “I’ve known Steve Strange for a lifetime, first meeting him when his band No Hot Ashes supported my band Mama’s Boys. A few years later Steve approached us and asked if he could book a few dates for us. We said if you get the dates Steve we will play them. From then on he became a firm friend and more than that definitely more like family. A total gentleman and will be missed by so so many.”

Shine Promoter Joe Dougan said Steve brought acts to Belfast “like Eminem & Coldplay, and was instrumental in the careers of so many Northern Ireland acts”.

He added: “I’ve been booking for The Limelight, where Steve used to work, for about 15 years, along with events like Belsonic and Custom House Square, and we worked with him countless times – Kodaline, Snow Patrol, Foy Vance, The Charlatans, Queens Of The Stone Age, Ryan McMullan, Stiff Little Fingers and so many others.

“He influenced so many people in this business all over the world, and was a genuine and hardcore music fan. An irreplaceable, much loved character, and a giant of the global concert industry.”

Promoter Denis Desmond of MCD added: “We have had the good fortune to know our friend Steve Strange for over 30 years, incredible person loved by all who knew him, a giant of a man, he represented over 50 acts and a host of other great artistes, he will be greatly missed by all, his legacy will live forever.

Other tributes to Steve Strange online included: 

The Charlatans: “We are all heartbroken that our beloved agent has sadly passed away. Steve Strange RIP.”

Publican Dave Neeley: “Can’t say any other words about Steve Strange that hasn’t been said. A legend & a friend who I’ve known for the best part of 30years when he started with his desk in the Limelight cloakroom. His laugh was infectious & his love of local music can’t be understated. RIP Steve.”

Rock group Saxon: “We are absolutely gutted for the loss of Steve Strange. Steve was not just our agent, he was our dear friend.  We will miss him greatly.”

Oh Yeah: “So sad to hear of the passing of our good friend Steve Strange. A giant of the music industry, a kind & generous friend and so proud of his NI roots. Sending our deepest condolences to his family, friends, artists, band mates and colleagues at Xray Touring.”

Kodaline: “We are truly saddened to hear the news of our friend and agent Steve Strange. Steve signed us to his roster at X-Ray touring before we had even played a show as kodaline and since then has helped guide and shape our live career.”

Toby Jepson: “I’m utterly broken. My dear friend Steve Strange has passed away after a short illness.

“I have nothing but good memories of our time together, he changed my life, rescued me from oblivion. You will be deeply missed by so many.”

Garbage: Rest in the music dear Steve Strange. Fine promoter and a great friend to musicians around the globe. You will be missed sir.

Ali, Head of Marketing at Polydor: “They don’t make them like Steve Strange anymore. A true legend. A wonderful man. RIP.

Dio: “Rest In Peace Steve Strange.”

Tempt: “He was the guy who got us. Who mentored us. Who guided us. Who supported us. Who cracked us up and laughed that laugh with us. He was #1 of Team Tempt We will miss you always and never forget what you did for us. Our condolences to his family. Rest in Peace Steve Strange”

As published in BAM Magazine / Excalibur Press

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