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"Fade to Grey" is the second single by the British group Visage, released on Polydor Records in 1980.

The song was the band's most successful single. It entered the singles charts in late 1980, peaking at no. 8 in the UK Singles Chart and reaching no. 1 in both Germany and Switzerland.



  • 1 Background
  • 2 Controversies
    • 2.1 Authorship
    • 2.2 "Fade to Grey" and "One Word"
  • 3 Music video
  • 4 Track listings
  • 5 Personnel
  • 6 Chart performance
    • 6.1 Weekly charts
    • 6.2 Year-end charts
    • 6.3 Certifications and sales
  • 7 Cover versions
  • 8 References


"Fade to Grey" was Visage's second single, but their first release on a major label, Polydor. It was released in November 1980, on the same day as the band's debut album, Visage. "Fade to Grey" hit the charts around Europe in late 1980/early 1981, becoming a Top 10 hit in the UK, and a Top 5 hit in five countries as well as reaching no. 1 in Germany and Switzerland.

A remix by Bassheads/Andy Stevenson was released in 1993 to promote the Fade to Grey – The Best of Visage compilation (an updated re-release of 1983'sFade to Grey – The Singles Collection). The new version became a modest Top 40 hit in the UK, peaking at no. 39.[3]

In 2008, Strange appeared on the BBC series Ashes to Ashes performing the song in the Blitz nightclub.



The song's structure was primarily composed by Billy Currie and Chris Payne. While setting the track listing of the Visage album, Midge Ure composed the song's lyrics after Billy Currie suggested the use of the melody for the album. Gary Numan commented in an interview for the Numan Digest: "As far as I'm concerned, Chris and Billy were the driving force behind writing "Fade to Grey". They used to work on it during the sound checks on my '79 tour. Cedric [Sharpley, the drummer of the Gary Numan's backing band] was also heavily involved. In those days it was called "Toot City"."[4]

The song features the same lyrics in two different languages, English and French. The English lyrics are sung whereas the French lyrics are spoken by a female voice. On the UK Channel 4 show Top Ten New Romantics in 1999, Visage vocalist Steve Strange claimed to have been the one who came up with the idea for the French vocal in the track (a statement disputed by Midge Ure who claims this idea was his).[5] On the finished track, the French vocal was performed by Brigitte Arens, a young student from Luxembourg who was Rusty Egan's girlfriend at the time.

In his 2002 autobiography, Steve Strange expressed his discontent over writing credits for "Fade to Grey". Again claiming that the French lyrics were his idea, and revealing that the musicians had usually credited each song to Visage as a five-piece band, the singer said it was not fair to credit the song to Ure, Currie and Payne only, since his input was significant and he was "the focal point of the group".[6]

"Fade to Grey" and "One Word"[edit][]

In 2005, a copyright dispute arose over similarities between "Fade to Grey" and the Kelly Osbourne single, "One Word". Billy Currie accused "One Word" writer Linda Perry of copyright infringement and had discussions with co-writers Midge Ure and Chris Payne with a view to taking legal action. However, the matter was resolved after Perry agreed to pay them a share of the royalties from the single. Visage's second incarnation have announced their intention to release a "One Word" remix, but this has not materialised. They have, however, produced a reworked version of "Fade to Grey" in 2005.

To further accentuate the point, British mashup artist Mixomatosis released the track "Fade to Kelly", mixing an a cappella edit of "One Word" with the extended mix of "Fade to Grey".[7]

Ironically, Italian singer Tiziano Ferro had a hit in Italy in 2006 with "Stop! Dimentica", a song which heavily samples Osbourne's "One Word".[8]

Music video[edit][]

Visage's first music video was directed by Godley & Creme.[9] The idea for the storyline was from Strange, whose body was covered with silver paint in the video. His friend, Julia Fodor, mimed the French lyrics in the video.[10] The clip was included on band's 1986 video release, Visage.

Track listings[edit][]

  • 7" single (1980)[11]
A. "Fade to Grey" — 3:50
B. "The Steps" — 3:13
  • 12" single (1980)[12]
A. "Fade to Grey" — 6:17
B. "The Steps" — 3:13
  • CD maxi-single (1993)[13]
  1. "Fade to Grey" (Bassheads 7" Edit) — 3:22
  2. "Fade to Grey" (7" Remix) — 3:37
  3. "Fade to Grey" (Original 7" Mix) — 3:51
  4. "Fade to Grey" (Wild Cat Mix) — 7:48
  • 12" single (1993)[14]
A1. "Fade to Grey" (Bassheads Vocal Mix) — 7:11
A2. "Fade to Grey" (Bassheads Dub Mix) — 7:35
A3. "Fade to Grey" (Bassheads Trance Mix) — 7:28
B1. "Fade to Grey" (Original Mix) — 3:51
B2. "Fade to Grey" (Subliminal Mix) — 5:16
B3. "Fade to Grey" (12" Mix) — 8:06


  • Steve Strange — lead vocals
  • Brigitte Arens — French vocals
  • Midge Ure — backing vocals
  • Rusty Egan — backing vocals
  • Billy Currie — synthesizer, electric violin
  • Chris Payne — synthesizer, viola
  • Cedric Sharpley — drums, electronic drums programming

Chart performance[edit][]

Weekly charts[edit][]

Chart (1980–1981) Peak


Australia (Kent Music Report)[15] 6
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[16] 3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[17] 4
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[18] 4
Denmark (IFPI)[19] 6
France (IFOP)[20] 3
Germany (Media Control Charts)[21] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[22] 7
Italy (FIMI)[23] 4
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[24] 22
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[25] 24
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[26] 10
Spain (AFE)[27] 25
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[28] 12
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[29] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[30] 8
Chart (1993) Peak


UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[3] 39

Year-end charts[edit][]

Chart (1981) Position Australia (Kent Music Report)[31] 44
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[32] 12
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[33] 49
France (IFOP)[34] 19
Italy (FIMI)[35] 36
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[36] 9

Certifications and sales[edit][]

Region Certification Sales/shipments France (SNEP)[37] Gold 668,000[38]
Germany (BVMI)[39] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[40] Silver 250,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone ^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Preceded by

"Angel of Mine" by Frank Duval
"Shaddap You Face" by Joe Dolce Music Theatre

German number-one single

9 March 1981 – 13 April 1981 (6 weeks)
4 May 1981 (1 week)

Succeeded by

"Shaddap You Face" by Joe Dolce Music Theatre

Preceded by

"Life Is for Living" by Barclay James Harvest

Swiss number-one single

29 March 1981 – 5 April 1981 (2 weeks)

Cover versions[edit][]

  • In the official U2 autobiography, Bono claims that Adam Clayton was trying to work out how to play the bassline of "Fade to Grey" and his initial attempt became "New Year's Day", U2's first Top 10 single.[41]
  • French group Goûts de Luxe covered the song in 1987 and released it as the B-side on their single "Omaha Beach".[42]
  • The 1992 song "I Wanna Be a Kennedy" by German Eurodance project U96 uses the synth riff of "Fade to Grey".
  • In 1994, the Italian electronic group Datura made a version of "Fade to Grey" with a re-recorded vocal track by Steve Strange singing lyrics specifically for this version. The single peaked at no. 5 in the Italian singles chart.[43]
  • Italian gothic metal band Monumentum covered the song on their album In Absentia Christi (1995).[44]
  • German DJ Mark 'Oh covered the song in 1996 on his album Magic Power.[45] The single reached no. 11 in Germany[46] and was a Top 40 hit in Switzerland, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands.[47]
  • "Fade to Grey" was recorded by Gregorian for their album Masters of Chant (1999).[48]
  • "Fade to Grey" was remixed by Noisia in 2005.[49]
  • The song was covered by Nouvelle Vague on their album Bande à Part in 2006.
  • Kylie Minogue's song "Like a Drug", from 2007 album X, uses uncredited elements from "Fade to Grey".
  • In 2008 German metal band Atrocity covered "Fade to Grey" on their album Werk 80 II.
  • Mandragora Scream, an Italian gothic metal band, covered "Fade to Grey" on their album Volturna (2009).
  • "Fade to Grey" was covered by former Information Society singer Christopher Anton for a maxi single to commemorate the song's 30th anniversary in 2010.[50]
  • Red Flag co-produced a cover of "Fade to Grey" with Bunny on her record Melting which was released in 2013. The French vocal on original track are translated to Hebrew.