Richard Strange

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Richard Strange
Portrait photograph of Richard Strange
Richard Strange photographed by Kelly Dearsley
Born January 1951 (age 66)
London, England
Occupation Writer, actor, musician, curator, teacher
Years active 1975–present
Known for Doctors of Madness
Website link

Richard "Kid" Strange (born January 1951) is an English writer, actor, musician, curator, teacher, adventurer and the founder and front man of seminal mid-1970s protopunk art rock band Doctors of Madness.


Strange's first band was Doctors of Madness, formed in 1975, recording three influential but non-commercial albums. The band was supported by the Sex Pistols, the Jam and Joy Division. He disbanded the band in 1978, after Dave Vanian of the Damned briefly joined him on vocals.[1] He subsequently recorded as a solo artist, releasing two albums The Live Rise of Richard Strange (Ze Records 1981) and The Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange (Virgin Records 1981) before further releases with the Engine Room up to the early 1990s.[1]

Strange has collaborated on recordings by International Noise Orchestra, Anni Hogan and Jolie Holland. He has produced records by Way of the West ("Don't Say That's Just for White Boys"), Tom Robinson ("Martin's Gone") and the Nightingales album Pigs on Purpose.

Strange toured Japan in 2005 and 2007 with multi-instrumentalist David Coulter and the Japanese band Sister Paul, playing a selection of Doctors of Madness songs. In 2007 he was part of Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown Festival, at the Royal Festival Hall, in an evening of songs from Walt Disney films; performed with the producer/arranger Hal Wilner in Brooklyn; and performed at the Barbican, alongside David Byrne, Tim Robbins, Steve Buscemi, Shane MacGowan and Suzanne Vega.

In 2009 Strange performed at the Glastonbury Festival, performing his 1981 political concept album The Phenomenal Rise Of Richard Strange live, in its entirety. He also played Port Eliot, Hay-on-Wye and Fenton Festivals.

in 2012 he contributed the song "Blood Brothers" to the Rudolf Buitendach movie "Dark Hearts".

In 2013 Strange was invited by Gail Zappa to narrate the British Premiere of Frank Zappa's opera 200 Motels at The Royal Festival Hall London. Strange also sang the baritone role of Rance, and the performance, featuring the 90-piece BBC Concert Orchestra, plus 40 voice choir, 8 piece jazz band and 5 piece rock band, was accorded a 20-minute standing ovation by the sold-out audience. It was filmed by Frank's widow Gail for later release and was also recorded by BBC Radio 3 for broadcast in November 2013.

Two weeks later Strange was part of Hal Willner's evening of the music of Nino Rota at London's Barbican Hall, singing a duet with himself in Italian, from the Fellini film of Casanova.

Solo discography[edit]


  • The Live Rise of Richard Strange (1980), ZE Records[2]
  • The Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange (1981), Virgin
  • Going-Gone (1988), Ausfahrt Berlin (a label of syncron-arts GmbH, studio.Wannsee) - with the Engine Room
  • The Rest is Silence (1990), Ausfahrt Berlin (a label of syncron-arts GmbH, studio.Wannsee) - with the Engine Room
  • This is War (2005), Richard Strange Records - Ausfahrt Berlin (a label of syncron-arts GmbH, studio.Wannsee)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "International Language" (1980), Cherry Red - UK Indie #48[3]
  • "International Language" (1981), Virgin
  • "The Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange" (1981), Virgin
  • "Next!" (1983), Albion
  • "Wild Times" (1984), Arista - as the Engine Room
  • "Your Kiss is a Weapon" (1985), Arista
  • Damascus EP (1988), Nightshift


Strange founded the hugely influential mixed-media Cabaret Futura club in Soho in 1980,[3] which he reopened after a thirty-year hiatus in 2010. Guests artists have included Michael Nyman, Gary Kemp, Sarah Jane Morris, Stella Duffy and boyleANDshaw. Cabaret Futura has subsequently been commissioned to curate a number of national and international live art events, including New Moves-The International Festival of Live Art in Glasgow (2011) and Festival of Art and Ideas in Hay-on-Wye (2011).

In November 2011 Strange was invited by the Tate Gallery to curate an evening as a response to the exhibition "John Martin and The Apocalypse". Working with his partner Kelly Dearsley, he created Cabaret Apocalyptica, a live event with installations, performances and films, staged in the historic ROOM 9 (pre-Raphaelites and 19th century masters) of Tate Britain. For this event Strange was joined by artists Gavin Turk, Richard Wilson and Sean Dower, plus dancer/choreographer Rene Eyre, poet Kate Tempest and singer/cellist Bonfire Madigan.

Alongside Cabaret Futura Strange hosts his own "live chat show", A MIGHTY BIG IF, in London's Soho. A monthly event, Richard interviews guests from the world of art, music, literature and film. Recent notable guests have included Peter Capaldi, Mike Figgis, Gavin Turk, Robert Elms, Cornelia Parker, Michael Nyman and James Rhodes.

He recently unveiled his most ambitious project to date- an immersive multi-disciplinary operatic collaboration with the composer Gavin Bryars called "Language is A Virus From Outer Space", based on the life and works of the American writer William S Burroughs, which received its world premiere at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall on 11 October 2014. The multi-media work, featuring Bryars's music, Strange's texts, and contributions from artists Gavin Turk and Haroon Mirza, writers Rupert Thomson and Jeremy Reed, choreographer Luca Silvestrini, actors Richard Durden and Lloyd Owen and musicians Sarah Jane Morris, Anni Hogan and Joe Elliot of the band Def Leppard. Conceived, curated, co-written and directed by Strange, the production received a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd.


Strange has worked as an actor since 1984, appearing extensively on stage, in films and on television. His numerous film appearances include Batman by Tim Burton, Mona Lisa by Neil Jordan, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, and Gangs of New York by Martin Scorsese. He can be seen in the Harmony Korine film Mr Lonely, playing the part of Abraham Lincoln, and in the film Inkheart, with Helen Mirren and Paul Bettany. He can also be seen in the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 under the directorship of David Yates. In summer 2011 he was cast in the British film Theatre Of Dreams alongside Brian Cox. He has been in TV programmes Men Behaving Badly, Trial and Retribution, The Bill and Footballers Wives.

Between 1989 and 1990 Strange toured the world with a production of Hamlet, directed by the Russian maestro Yuri Lyubimov. He played a gravedigger, one of the players and the ghost.

Throughout 2004-07 Strange worked with Marianne Faithfull on the Tom Waits/William Burroughs/Robert Wilson collaboration The Black Rider, singing and acting in this stage musical in theatres in London, San Francisco, Sydney and Los Angeles.

Art and performance works[edit]

His collaborations include work with Sam Taylor Wood for the giant banner XV Seconds (2000) that covered the facade of the London department store Selfridges for 6 months in 2000. More recently he has worked with the Anglo-Pakistani artist Haroon Mirza on several projects including A Sleek Dry Yell (London, Dundee, Walker Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery and Hamburg) and Regaining a Degree of Control a.k.a. The Last Tape. (2010), (Hayward Gallery, London, Chisenhale Gallery, London, New Moves, Glasgow, Vivid Gallery, Birmingham and Brownstone Foundation, Paris.) and "Falling Rave" shown at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. He frequently works with the Live Art collective boyleANDshaw, performing with them notably at the Calvert Gallery, London in 2010, and at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2011. He showed his solo performance piece "Welcome to my World" at the closing celebrations of the long established Mayor Gallery, in London's Cork Street.

In March 2011 Strange was invited by the New Moves International Festival of Live Art to curate an evening of events and to premiere a new performance work, I've a Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore which he devised with the photographer and academic Kelly Dearsley. The work was shown in Glasgow in March 2011 alongside other artists including Liliane Lijn, Richard Wilson and Haroon Mirza.


As a writer and journalist, Strange has contributed to The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent, Tatler, The Art Newspaper, Art Monthly, The European, Time Out, GQ, The London Standard and Travel and Culture, among other publications.

Richard's memoir Strange- Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks, was published to critical acclaim by Andre Deutsch in 2005.

In June 2011 he presented This Is Not Magritte, a programme on the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, on BBC Radio 4. In July, Strange chaired a Tate Gallery discussion on watercolours at the Camp Bestival Festival. In November, he was invited to be Creator in Residence at the Hong Kong Design Institute.

Richard Strange also hosts a series of monthly live chat shows called A MIGHTY BIG IF at the House of St Barnabas, Soho.

This informal series of chat shows features Richard Strange in conversation with leading members of the arts and entertainment worlds. Richard's past guests have included Marc Almond, Mike Figgis, Gary Kemp, Peter Capaldi, Nile Rodgers, Michael Nyman, Gavin Turk, Simon Day, Cornelia Parker, Richard Wilson, Robert Wilson, Alison Jackson and more.

Strange's shows are filmed by Don Boyd's HiBROW.TV for online screening.

Strange has become increasing involved in education, sharing his practice and ideas on collaboration, is a guest lecturer teaching "Creativity in Context" at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in London, and is an occasional lecturer at the London College of Fashion. He was recently created Principle Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and in 2012 was Creator in Residence at The Hong Kong Design Institute

Between 1995 and 1997 Strange played a butler in more than 50 episodes of the popular German primetime TV show "Gottschalks Haus-Party" and had a fight against WWE's The Undertaker in one episode.[4]


  1. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Canongate. ISBN 1-84195-335-0. p. 57
  2. ^ The Live Rise of Richard Strange's Credits. ZE Records.
  3. ^ a b Lazell, Barry (1998.) Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4. p. 219
  4. ^

External links[edit]