…let’s continue the look back at the career of Steve Fairnie…
1984: The Technos released “Nightime Heaven”, a great Synthpop song that reached no. 97 in March. They also released the single “The Spirit Of The Thing”. Also, Steve was involved in the making of the board game Hype, which was about “all the slime and grime of the music business”. Can you form a band, and take them from playing pubs to getting a record deal, making a single, and topping the chart? Hype came with a free 12″ single of The Technos’ theme for the game, but I don’t know if you had to play it while you were playing the game though.
1985: The Technos released the album “Foreign Land”. A remix of “Falling In Love Again” was released as a single, an update which showed just how much pop music had changed in the few years since it was originally a hit. “Foreign Land” was also re-released as a single, and it had some success on the US Hot Dance Club Play Chart. I’m not sure what genre you could class their music as (Gospel Synthpop? Techno Swing?) but I have enjoyed a lot of their songs.
1986: Steve’s career took an unlikely swerve when he starred in the children’s TV show The Kid. This was a sketch show that contained no dialogue, and 13 five-minute long episodes were made. I wonder if it was an influence on the similar and much more successful “a comic coming to life” show Zzzap! that launched on CITV in 1993. I must say that Steve didn’t come across as the first person who would be a zany children’s TV personality, but his performance (and the distinctive red streak in his hair) along with the rest of the cast was very enjoyable. The Kid was co-created, co-written, and co-directed by David G Rose, who directed the “Falling In Love Again” video, and he also directed Danielle Dax’s 1985 concert that was shown on ITV and released on DVD, and her 1987 video for “Big Hollow Man”. How about that.
1987: In March The Kid was shown on CBBC for the first time, as part of the afternoon strand The Album, which earned Steve a few namechecks in Radio Times. The Kid was also shown on The Children’s Channel in the early days of satellite TV. Steve appeared on that channel to promote The Kid, which was shown as part of the Roustabout strand with Mick Robertson, best known for hosting ITV’s Magpie. Steve promised viewers that there would be “very silly noises”.
Also, rather curiously, some footage that wasn’t shown on TV from the interview is online, mostly consisting of Steve and Mick staring into space waiting for their cue as someone fiddled with a clapperboard. In June Steve and Bev were interviewed in the American magazine Billboard, where their music was described as “they aren’t your average anything“.
1988: The final The Technos album (and Steve’s eighth and final album 13 years on from his first) “Songs For A Nervous World” was released. The Kid was also repeated on BBC1 in the summer, this time in a Saturday Morning slot, but I’m fairly sure that it hasn’t been shown on TV since, and there’s been no DVD release. After this, Steve turned away from making music, although he remained a keen supporter of Greenbelt (a Christian music festival that he first performed at in 1974), because, put it this way, he wasn’t an atheist. Steve now focused on his painting and lecturing work.
post-1988: Steve died suddenly in February 1993, the day after his 42nd birthday. Hundreds attended his funeral, and his obituary was published in The Independent. It seems that he was a popular and influential figure in the music business, Simon Mayo said that he was “one cool dude”. It was rather odd to discover his work and realise that it has been over 25 years since he has gone, but it really was a fascinating career that deserves to be better known. There is also a comprehensive website about his work that preserves his legacy. But the story doesn’t end there, and it now takes a very bizarre twist…
In April 2016, 23 years on from his death, there was “This Is Not A Rehearsal”, a celebratory retrospective of the artwork of Steve. This was held at a gallery in east London, which is very close to where I live! Among those who attended was Bev Sage (who, remember, is “Queen Of The Rapping Scene”) who has had a lot of success as an artist herself. So that’s the most high-profile celebration and reappraisal of his life and career since his funeral. And it happened less than half a mile from where I live. It was very odd to discover all this. Why here of all places? Why do these coincidences happen so often? Either way, it was good to know lots of people still think fondly of him.