Ashes to ashes at Pett Level

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Former pop star and music impresario Steve Strange died last week, aged 55. He established the legendary Blitz nightclub in Covent Garden, London, in 1979 and later became the lead singer with the band Visage, who achieved a major hit single with Fade to Grey the following year. Steve Strange was also famous for his appearance – with a group of friends from the Blitz – in the promotional video for David Bowie’s 1980 number one hit single Ashes to Ashes, which was filmed in part on the beach at Cliff End, Pett Level (see video link).

The video was notable at the time for the characters’ theatrical outfits, inspired by the experimental fashion culture of the Blitz nightclub, and also for the use of solarised and saturated colour in the beach scenes, with the sea and sky being rendered in black. (Despite these special effects the headland of Cliff End is still clearly recognisable in the background, though the two large posts on the beach are long gone.) Allegedly costing £250,000 to make, the video was the most expensive of its day. Although its production might appear basic by today’s standards, Ashes to Ashes remains one of the most significant pop videos of the past 35 years.

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