Fade To Griais: Steve Stienish RIP

15 02 2015

Countless Old SYs who spent 1980 going around town in white make-up, frilly blouses and Austro-Hungarian cavalry hats are today mourning the passing of New Romantic icon Steve Steinish.

But while Steinish’s impact on the London music, fashion and nightclub scenes is well documented, few are aware that he did it all in Stornoway first.

Steinish was born Steve Neonach in Bridge Cottages in 1959, and drifted into illicit fuidheag dealing at an early age. Inspired by punk after seeing Noise Annoys at Laxdale Hall, he moved to Stornoway where he worked briefly in Malcolm Burns and Bhibhian Westside’s boot repair shop, Seggs, and roadied for Billy Lionel of Generation Ness.

His own first punk band, The Muirt Murdos, was highly unsuccessful despite featuring early punk luminaries such as Soo Cacwoman, Chrissie Faing and Tiumpan Headon.

Steinish soon became disillusioned with punk and its lack of sophistication and gloss. Inspired by the electronic music pioneered by Kroftwerk, he formed Fish-age as a studio project with Midge Repellent and Rusty Dìogan from the Rubhach Kids. In 1979 Fishage hit the Radio Ranol top 10 with “Fade To Griais” (b/w “Faad to Grey”) a hit not only on Stornoway hospital radio but also all over Eoropie.

His explosion onto the scene caught the attention of Barvas street evangelist and noted precentor Savéd Bowie. Steinish appeared in the video for “Ashes to Ashes”, a song detailing the perils of debauchery following the Sandwick gelly.

As well as performing music, Steinish was famed for setting up several nightclubs around the Stornoway harbour area. One in particular, the Blitz(er) Club, was instrumental in the formation of the fashions and musical tastes of the Newvalley Romantic era. One young fisherman who manned the cloakroom at the club at the weekends later went on to great things under the moniker of Buoy George.

After an evening in Blitz(er) the crew of another local fishing vessel were inspired to make straight for Murdo Maclean’s, kit themselves out with designer suits, and take their scallop dredger to sea to film a top-end promo video. The newly formed (Portna)Guran Guran’s plans for stardom soon came to grief, however; Skipper Sgadan Le Bontata was too busy posing for the camera to bother steering, and the boat hit Sober Island and sank.

In later years, Steinish became known to a new generation of Stornowegians after taking part in BBC Alba’s charity reality show “Celebrity Siosarhands”. Set in K*nny the B*rber’s, the show raised several pounds for 2006’s “Children in Kneep” appeal and Steinish himself quickly became a viewer favourite when he demonstrated complete ineptitude in attempting a “Clup Bobhla” on a bodach from Skigersta.

More recently, he detailed plans for a return to music during an appearance on daytime TV staple “Lewis Women”. Alas, he never managed to recapture the magic of his glory days and suffered a range of physical and mental ailments as a result of his addiction to organophosphate sheep dip. Steinish had struggled with the drug intermittently since 1985, when he was introduced to it while modelling for top fashion designer Jean-Paul Goathillier at a prestigious fank in Harris.

His tragic death in the Shawbost holiday resort of Sharm el-Siarach was marked by having a concert dedicated to him that night by fellow New Romantic legends Spandau Ballantrushal.