Nick Kamen, Levi’s model and Madonna collaborator, dies aged 59

·1 min read
Nick Kamen in 1987 - Dave Hogan
Nick Kamen in 1987 - Dave Hogan

Nick Kamen, the singer and model who made four records in the late Eighties and early Nineties, has died at the age of 59.

Essex-born Kamen, whose real first name was Ivor, shot to fame via a 1985 Levi's 501 TV advertisement, which caught the attention of Madonna.

In the ad, he strips off in a launderette, to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine. The clip is often referred to as one of the most influential TV ads ever made, and resulted in an 800 per cent increase in sales of 501s.

On the strength of it, Madonna reached out to Kamen and suggested they collaborate on a song she was writing. The resulting track, Each Time You Break My Heart, went to number five on the UK charts. Madonna provided backing vocals and appeared in the music video.

In a BBC radio interview in 1986, the singer said she was inspired by Kamen’s “charisma” and “beautiful voice”. There was speculation at the time about the nature of their relationship, although both denied that they were ever romantically involved.

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Stars who have paid tribute to Kamen include his close friend Boy George, who wrote online: “R.I.P to the most beautiful and sweetest man!”

Between 1987 and 1992, Kamen produced three other LPs, including the single I Promised Myself, which went to number one in several European countries.