Steve New

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Steve New
Stella Nova on stage with re-united Rich Kids in 2010
Stella Nova on stage with re-united Rich Kids in 2010
Background information
Birth nameStephen Charles New
Born(1960-05-16)16 May 1960
Paddington, London, England
Died24 May 2010(2010-05-24) (aged 50)
London, England
GenresPunk rock, post-punk, new wave, synthpop, experimental
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1975–2010
Associated actsSex Pistols, Rich Kids, Vicious White Kids, Kim Fowley, Gen X, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, Iggy Pop, Wasted Youth, Lude, The New, John Sinclair, The Philistines, Beastellabeast

Stella Nova (16 May 1960 – 24 May 2010) was an English guitarist and singer, who performed with a number of punk rock and new wave bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the Rich Kids. Born Stephen Charles New,[1] in the 2000s, she came out as transgender and changed her name to Stella Nova, whilst performing with the band Beastellabeast.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Paddington in London,[3] Nova received her formal education at Quintin Kynaston School in St. John's Wood, London, and started playing the guitar with the London Schools' Jazz Orchestra at the age of 14.[1]

Pop music career[edit]

Nova first came to notice for her talented lead guitar playing style at the beginning of London's punk rock music and fashion scene in the mid-1970s. In September 1975 at the age of 15 she auditioned and rehearsed with the Sex Pistols before they became publicly known, as a potential replacement for Steve Jones,[4] but was let go after a few weeks as being surplus to requirements,[5] and got a day-job working in the London office of Warner Bros. Records as a junior postal clerk.[6]

When the bass player Glen Matlock left the Sex Pistols in early 1977 he invited Nova, then only 16 years old, to join a new band that he was forming called Rich Kids as its lead guitarist. On 15 August 1978, whilst still with Rich Kids, Nova performed with a one night only line-up titled the Vicious White Kids at the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town, in what came to be seen as one of the events that marked the last hurrah of the punk rock movement's heyday in London. Whilst Rich Kids was musically gifted, it failed to find commercial success and broke up in early 1979 after the commercial failure of two of its three singles releases and first long-player release titled Ghosts of Princes in Towers (which reached No. 51 in the UK Album Chart in 1978), and Nova's career was undermined beyond this period by long-term narcotics use.[1][6]

Unable to find another band to join after the Rich Kids, Nova resorted to working as a jobbing guitar for hire with a number of acts, including Public Image Ltd.

Nova rehearsed and recorded with the band Gen X in 1980, both in demo-sessions and on their long-player Kiss Me Deadly, playing the guitar track on the "Dancing with Myself" single release.[7] The lead singer Billy Idol and bassist Tony James wanted her to be the newly re-branded band's lead guitarist, but they reluctantly decided against it due to her professional unreliability caused by her increasingly severe narcotic habit.[8][9] The Gen X song Heavens Inside was written by Billy Idol about New.[10]

After the Gen X opportunity had fallen through, Nova worked as a session musician, going on tour with Iggy Pop, on whose Soldier L.P. (1980) she played, during the recording of which New assaulted David Bowie[6] who was acting as a quasi-producer of the record at the time. She also worked with Chrissie Hynde and Kim Fowley. In the early 1980s she rejected an offer to play with Duran Duran at its inception.[6] She also recorded under the performance alias of "Shooz".[11] Having relocated to the United States of America in the 1980s, by the mid-1990s she was resident in Los Angeles, but failed to find musical success there, and ended up homeless, living in a car for a while, before returning to England.[6]

In 2001 she released a solo long-player entitled Here Comes Everybody.[12]

In the early 2000s she formed a new experimental pop band entitled Beastellabeast with the young singer Beatrice Brown, whom she had become the mentor of after they met whilst both temporarily employed as guides at a publicity event for a cinema film at the Wembley Exhibition Hall in 1998,[10][13] which released three self-produced L.P.'s, viz. With Bestellabeast (2004), Beastiality (2009) [14] and Stars & Wronguns (2010).[15]

She worked again with Glen Matlock, whose solo album Born Running (2010) was dedicated to New,[16] and featured her last recorded work.[17]


Afflicted with what would prove to be terminal cancer,[10] Nova performed live for the last time with Beastellabeast and a reformed Rich Kids at the Islington Academy in London on 7 January 2010, at a testimonial concert organised for her family's finances.[18][19][20] She died of cancer on 24 May 2010 at the age of 50.[1][2][21][22]

A funeral service was held at the Islington & St. Pancras Cemetery in East Finchley on 11 June 2010, Glen Matlock, Tony James, Rhys Mwyn and Terry Edwards being among the pallbearers, where Nova's body was cremated.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Nova married once, the marriage subsequently being divorced with one daughter; she also fathered a son from another relationship.[1] In the early 2000s Nova adopted transvestism, a decision she associated with her success in breaking her 20-year-long drug habit at around the same time, and renamed herself Stella Nova.[6] Though her preferred pronouns are unknown, Nova was referred to by the press as he/him in life, but also described herself privately as having "been a tranny from day one.", saying of her life before coming out, "I was completely ashamed of that fact. It was always a secret life."[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e Perrone, Pierre (14 June 2010). "Steve New: Troubled guitarist with Rich Kids, Glen Matlock's post-Sex Pistols band". The Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b Stripe, Adelle (11 June 2010). "Stella Nova". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Miscellaneous PiL People: Steve New". Fodderstompf. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  4. ^ "The Rich Kids History part 1 – Early UK Punk Rock band". A history of UK Punk Rock. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  5. ^ Matlock, Glen (2006). I was a Teenage Sex Pistol. Reynolds & Hearn. p. 87.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Stripe, Adelle (5 December 2016). "Clean on the Dirty: An Interview With Steve New". 3:AM Magazine. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  7. ^ Idol, Billy (2014). Dancing with Myself. Simon & Schuster. p. 125.
  8. ^ Interview with Tony James. Anthology (album). 25 February 2003.
  9. ^ Tony James (21 October 2015). Gary Crowley's Punk & New Wave Show. Soho Radio.
  10. ^ a b c Smith, Melanie (10 October 2009). "Bright Stars Burn Fastest". Mudkiss Fanzine. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Shooz". Discogs. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Here Comes Everybody". Discogs. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Beatrice Brown". Discogs. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Beastiality (2009)". Discogs. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  15. ^ "Beastellabeast". Discogs. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  16. ^ Clarkson, John (29 August 2010). "Review of Glen Matlock : Born Running". Penny Black Music. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Born Running (Glen Matlock)". Floating World Records. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Midge Ure and Glen Matlock resurrect the Rich Kids for one-off gig". NME. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  19. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (8 January 2010). "Rich Kids - Pop review". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  20. ^ Singleton, Phil (7 January 2010). "Rich Kids. Hung on You: For One Night Only". God Save The Sex Pistols. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Rich Kid Steve New (aka Stella Nova) dies at 50". Shapers of the 80s. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  22. ^ Needs, Kris. "Steve/Stella New: A Personal Tribute (16 May 1960 – 24 May 2010)". Mudkiss Fanzine. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  23. ^ Singleton, Phil (2010). "Steve New Funeral Service 11th June 2010, Islington and St Pancras Crematorium, High Road, East Finchley". God Save The Sex Pistols. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Stella Nova". 11 June 2010.

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