Nick Kamen, British Pop Star and Model, Dead at 59

Nick Kamen in 1986
Photo Credit
Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

Nick Kamen, a British model turned pop hitmaker, has died, the BBC has confirmed. He was 59 years old.

A cause of death was not disclosed beyond the mention of "a long illness."

Born Ivor Neville Kamen in Essex in 1962, Nick was born into an artistic family: his brothers were Chester, a guitarist who’s played with Bryan Ferry, David Gilmour and Roger Waters; and Barry, a stylist and designer. Together, Barry and Nick formed the Buffalo Collective, a highly influential and pioneering group in European streetwear.

Nick Kamen on the cover of The Face, 1984
Nick Kamen on the cover of The Face, 1984

Nick's 1984 appearance on the cover of The Face first earned him attention; a year later, he starred in a much-discussed British ad for Levi's, in which he stripped down to his boxers in a laundromat to wash his jeans. (The ad was so popular that its soundtrack - Marvin Gaye's '60s hit "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" - re-entered the U.K. Top 10.)

Nick's transition into singing was aided greatly thanks to his producer, Stephen Bray. Bray was also a drummer in the band Breakfast Club, a gig he inherited from another singer he would later collaborate with: Madonna. (Together, Madonna and Bray wrote “Angel,” “Into The Groove,” “True Blue” and “Express Yourself,” and others.)

READ MORE: August 1986: Madonna Rules the World with 'True Blue'

"Wow, he's got a great face!" Madonna later remembered upon seeing Kamen for the first time. “I never knew he could sing.  And the next thing I know, [Sire Records head] Seymour Stein calls me up and says, ‘Would you be interested in writing a song for his album?’ So he sent me a tape and the Levi’s commercial and a demo video that he had done, and I said, ‘Wow, this guy’s got everything.'”

Madonna also sang background vocals on the track she gave Kamen, "Each Time You Break My Heart." It became a Top 5 hit on both the U.K. charts and Billboard's dance survey. Later minor hits included a cover of the Four Tops' "Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever" and 1990's "I Promised Myself," which Kamen wrote himself. The song, a Top 10 throughout parts of Europe, was later covered by Dead or Alive and The A*Teens.

Kamen's final album was released in 1992. In 2020, his discography was expanded and reissued in the box set The Complete Collection.

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