Levi’s launderette model and singer Nick Kamen dies aged 59

Kamen, who appeared in seminal 1985 Levi’s 501 ad, died on Tuesday after a long illness, it is understood

Nick Kamen, who sprang to fame as a Levi’s model and later became a singer-songwriter, has died at the age of 59, a friend of his family has confirmed.

Kamen died on Tuesday night after a long illness, it is understood.

His friend and fellow musician Boy George paid tribute to Kamen on Wednesday, describing him as “the most beautiful and sweetest man”.

John Taylor, the bassist of Duran Duran, wrote on Twitter: “So so sad to hear of the passing of Nick Kamen. One of the loveliest and gentlest men I ever met. He was a beloved friend to my daughter and her Mom. We shall all miss him. RIP Nick.”

The actor Susie Cave shared a photo of Kamen on Instagram and wrote: “RIP Nick Kamen my sweet friend.”

Kamen appeared on the front of The Face magazine in 1984 wearing a ski hat, lipstick and aviator sunglasses. The following year he starred in an advert for Levi’s in which he stripped to his boxer shorts in an old-fashioned launderette to wash his jeans while a group of female customers looked on spellbound as Marvin Gaye’s 1968 hit Heard It Through The Grapevine played in the background.

Nick Kamen performing.
Nick Kamen’s biggest hit, Each Time You Break My Heart, was a collaboration with Madonna. Photograph: David Redfern/Redferns

British pop/folk singer-songwriter Tanita Tikaram said she had met the musician when they were signed to the same label. “He was kind & sweet, none of the ego of someone who had just set the world alight with his extraordinary beauty. My condolences to his family,” she wrote on Twitter.

Kamen, who was born in Harlow, Essex, launched his career in pop music in 1986. His biggest hit, Each Time You Break My Heart, a collaboration with Madonna, reached number five in the charts. His eponymous debut album also featured Kamen’s second single, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever, a cover of the Four Tops’ 1966 hit, which reached number 16.

Writer Jennifer Nadel, the co-director of Compassion in Politics, wrote that she was “heartbroken” at the passing of her “dear friend”, adding: “The most gentle, loving, beautiful and mischievous soul, now on the next stage of his journey. Blessed to have known and loved him.”


Alexandra Topping and agencies

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