- Full Name Ivor Neville Kamen
- Nickname "Nick" Kamen
- Occupation Singer, Songwriter, Musician and Model
- Nationality British
- Birthplace Harlow, Essex, England
- Birth Date 15 April 1962
- Death Date 4 May 2021
- Age At Death 59
Nick Kamen | BiographyGained Prominence For His Appearance in 1985 Levi’s Commercial
He made a name for himself after stripping down to his boxers for this famous Levi commercial when he was just 18 years old. The commercial earned the sixth position on a list of The 100 Greatest TV Ads of all time in 2000. Eventually, Levi’s job brought Kamen to the attention of a wider audience, including renowned American singer and songwriter Madonna.
Nick Kamen was a UK-based model, songwriter, and musician best known for his singles’ Each Time You Break My Heart’ and ‘I Promised Myself.’
Who Is Nick Kamen?
Nick Kamen, full name Ivor Neville Nick Kamen, was an English model, songwriter, and musician. He passed away at his London residence on 4 May 2021, at 59, after a long struggle with bone marrow cancer.
His latest album, Nick Kamen: The Complete Collection (6-CD box set), was launched in 2020. During his lifetime, he released five music albums: Nick Kamen, Us, Loving You, Move Until We Fly, and Whatever, Whenever. He also starred in many commercials, his best exposure being in 1985 Levi’s advert, where he took off his blue jean ‘501s’ and white T-shirt in a launderette.
Early life and Education
Late Nick Kamen was born on 15 April 1962 in Harlow, Essex, England. His birth name was Ivor Neville Kamen. Kamen was the seventh of eight children of his parents. He had four sisters and three brothers. He went to St. Marks Comprehensive High School.
Commercials and Modeling
Kamen rose to prominence when he appeared on the cover of The Face magazine in 1984. He was featured by Ray Petri, which was his first exposure to professional modeling. He wore a ski jacket, lipstick, orange sweater, and a pair of aviator shades for the portrait.
Kamen and his model brother Barry later became muses for Petri. The two became the faces of a generation fed up with commercial fashion. In one interview, Jamie Morgan, the photographer who collaborated with stylist Ray Petri to create the Buffalo look, said, “Kamen was our muse.”
Independent British magazines like i-D and The Face popularized the trend. They emphasized creativity and used a magpie DIY approach. Buffalo-style was a response to the industry’s obsession with perfection, although it had a niche scope. Nevertheless, it had a lasting effect, setting the groundwork for the 1990s fashion explosion of innovation and rebellion.
According to May 2021 article from Vogue, Kamen resembled young American singer Elvis Presley. They shared facial features like blue eyes and pillowy-lips, and a beauty mark on one cheek. The resembling features of Kamen were emphasized in a steamy advert for Levi’s 501 stone-washed denim that he did back in 1985. He made a name for himself after stripping down to his boxers for this famous Levi's commercial when he was just 18 years old. The commercial earned the sixth position on a list of The 100 Greatest TV Ads of all time in 2000. Eventually, Levi’s job brought Kamen to the attention of a wider audience, including renowned American singer and songwriter Madonna.
Kamen began his pop music journey in 1986. His first single, ‘Each Time You Break My Heart’ from his eponymous debut album, Nick Kamen, was UK’s number five hit in 1986. The song was written and executively produced by Madonna and her frequent collaborator, Stephen Bray. It reached the top 50 in Canada and the US dance chart (remix by Shep Pettibone). Madonna herself also performed the backing vocals.
Kamen’s second single, ‘Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever’ (a cover of the Four Tops’ 1966 hit), also charted at No. 16 in the UK. However, his later singles fared better in Europe, particularly Italy, France, Germany, and Spain.
Patrick Leonard, Madonna’s other frequent collaborator, produced Kamen’s second album Us in 1988. This time, Madonna returned to the song ‘Tell Me’ as a background vocalist without contributing to the songwriting or production. In 1988, the song became a massive hit in Italy, spending nine weeks at the top of the charts. Later that year, a WEA Italiana compilation called ‘Loving You,’ mainly featured extended versions of previous singles, peaked at number 7 on the Italian album charts. In addition, Kamen’s song ‘Turn It Up’ was featured on the soundtrack of Walt Disney’s film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in 1989.
In 1990, Kamen’s third album, Move Until We Fly, was released, and it entailed another big European hit, ‘I Promised Myself.’ In that same year, the song peaked at number ten in several European countries. In addition, it was the fourth most played record in Europe in 1990. Later, the song was covered by pop bands like Dead or Alive, A-Teens, German punk rockers Maggers United and Swedish singer Basshunter.
Kamen’s 1988 European single ‘Bring Me Your Love’ has a Cantonese cover version titled ‘Are You Alone?’ by Norman Cheung. It reached number 1 on the Hong Kong airplay chart in 1989. Kamen’s last album, titled Whatever, Whenever, was released in 1992.
Kamen and actress Talisa Soto dated in 1986 after appearing in his music video for the song ‘Every Time You Break My Heart’. Following that, he dated Tatjana Patitz, a German model and actress. The couple met each other when she appeared in Kamen’s music video ‘Tell Me.’ Then Kamen dated actress Amanda de Cadenet from 1999 to 2001. The couple knew each other since she was 14 years old.
After battling for a long time with bone marrow cancer, Kamen passed away on 4 May 2021 at 59. Boy George, Kamen’s close friend, led the tributes, calling him “the most beautiful and sweetest man.” English band Duran Duran took to Twitter and expressed his grief about the incident. “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,” he wrote.
Madonna also took to Instagram and wrote, “It’s heartbreaking to know you are gone. You were always such a kind, sweet human and you suffered too much. Hope you are happier wherever you are Nick Kamen.”