RICHARD STRANGE’S BIO
Since the band was first unleashed on an uncomprehending public in 1975, Strange has been a Zelig-like figure whose presence has been felt in every corner of London’s cultural life. He founded the hugely influential mixed-media Cabaret Futura in 1980 and has subsequently worked as a musician, writer and actor.
His numerous movie appearances include Batman by Tim Burton, Mona Lisa by Neil Jordan, and Gangs of New York by Martin Scorsese. He can be seen in the Harmony Korine movie Mr Lonely, playing the part of Abraham Lincoln, and filmed the last episode of Harry Potter as a death eater.
Throughout 2004-7 Richard worked with Marianne Faithfull on the Tom Waits/William Burroughs/Robert Wilson collaboration “The Black Rider”, performing in theatres in London, San Francisco, Sydney and Los Angeles.
In 2009 he was part of Jarvis Cocker’s Meltdown Festival, at the Royal Festival Hall, in an evening of songs from Walt Disney movies, and in 2010 performed with the producer/arranger Hal Wilner in Brooklyn and at The Barbican, alongside such luminaries as David Byrne, Tim Robbins, Steve Buscemi, Shane McGowan and Suzanne Vega.
Richard curated a night of Live Art in Glasgow in 2011 as part of the This Is Performance Art Festival. Mary Brennan of The Glasgow Herald described it: “One of the most open-minded, far-reaching and rewardingly varied programmes of radical new work in the world.”
He co-wrote and presented This is Not Magritte, a programme about the Belgian surrealist, for BBC Radio 4. Last summer he chaired a discussion on Watercolours for the Tate Gallery at Camp Bestival, and performed his one-man show An Accent Waiting to Happen at venues across the UK.
In 2012 he curated Cabaret Apocalyptica for the Tate Britain, Millbank, to celebrate the “John Martin and the Apocalypse” exhibition. Richard made a specially commissioned Performance/installation work with Kelly Dearsley Strange, and the show featured many artists including Kate Tempest, Gavin Turk and Richard Wilson. The same month he was appointed Creator In Residence at The Hong Kong Design Institute, and he was recently asked to be a mentor for the young musicians on the Music For Youth initiative. He was made a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in May 2014.
Richard wrote the song for the closing credits of a new movie, Dark Hearts, which premiered in Cannes in 2013, and was screened during the opening weekend of Raindance, The London Independent Film Festival. He also works as Music Consultant to Alison Jackson on her shows for BBC and Sky TV.
Richard’s live chat show, A Mighty Big If has been taken up by Don Boyd/Gary Kemp’s online Arts Channel HiBrow.TV. Guests include Marc Almond, the celebrated American theatre director Robert Wilson, the actor Brian Cox, musician/actor Gary Kemp, the award-winning artist Cornelia Parker, the actor Peter Capaldi, film director Mike Figgis, the godlike genius who is Nile Rodgers, and the poet and playwright Kate Tempest. Future guests include Juergen Teller, Hans Zimmer and Rupert Thomson.
In October 2013 he was Narrator and sang baritone in the UK premiere of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels, which played to a rapturous full house at The Royal Festival Hall and was praised by critics from every area of the media. In November 2013 he also featured in Hal Willner’s concert Amarcord…Nino Rota, the Barbican tribute to Fellini’s composer, with Marc Almond, Steve Beresford, Nitin Sawnhey and Kate St John.
Richard’s collaborative project with the composer Gavin Bryars, a cantata based around the life and work of William Burroughs, received its World Premiere at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on October 11th 2014, Burroughs’ centenary year. It was greeted with a standing ovation from the sold-out house. Conceived, curated, co-written and directed by Richard, the show featured contributions from Gavin Turk, Sarah Jane Morris, Rupert Thomson, Jeremy Reed, Haroon Mirza, Anni Hogan, David Coulter and Seb Rochford and The Doctors of Madness.
Working increasingly in education, having been awarded a prestigious Principal Fellowship of The Higher Education Academy (one of only 350 in the country), Richard currently devotes a lot of his time working with young music students in the UK, Hong Kong, Sweden and the USA.
WHAT DID I DO WITH RICHARD STRANGE?
I first met Richard in my first year at the University The Institute of Contemporary Performance (ICMP) in 2010. He was lecturing on one of my modules entitled ‘Creativity In Context’. In a nutshell, the module was all about how you can create music in other situations and environments, other than becoming a rockstar and still making a living as a musician.
In his first lesson, he read a passage from his memoir, and in between, he would explain that there are many different forms of music, that we often take for granted, that we hear in everyday life. Such as ringtones and theme music for shows, video games, theatre and dance. He added that, for all of these pieces of music to exist, someone must have written them.
During my time at University and to this day, I have remained very close friends with Richard and I’ve been involved in a number of different projects with him. I helped run and organise his centenary celebration of the birth of William Burroughs event Language Is A Virus From Outer Space at the South Bank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall.
I’ve suppled some technical assistants for his interview series A Mighty Big If, supplying visual presentations. Performing in and tour managing The Doctor’s of Madness 2017 & 2018. And in 2019 touring and recorded percussion on The Doctor’s new album with producer John Leckie.
Also, I recorded some drums for a track featured in Dark Hearts an independent movie. Performing drums for The Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange UK Tour 2018 supporting The Psychedelic Furs around the UK.
Not only have I done a lot of projects with Richard but he’s introduced me directly and indirectly to some amazing and inspirational people.
From that very first lesson, Richard has been an influence on everything I do. He’s provided me with gigs, projects, tours and everything in between.
He is a true legend and a great friend.
Some projects I’ve worked on with Richard: