British model and singer Nick Kamen, who appeared in the famous 1980s Levi’s
launderette advert and was also considered a protege of Madonna, has died aged 59.
A friend of the family confirmed the news. It is understood the star, who was born in
Essex died on Tuesday night after a long illness
Kamen, whose real name was Ivor Neville Kamen, exploded onto the pop culture scene
in a mid-80s commercial for Levi’s 501 jeans.
Set to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” the classic ad
shows Kamen arriving at a laundromat, undressing — to the delight of a laundromat
customers and television viewers — tossing his jeans into a washer, and then patiently
waiting… in his underwear.
This commercial sent the shrink-to-fit jean skyrocketing in popularity in Europe
and has since cemented its place in advertising history,” Levi’s said in a statement
late last year. It also turned Kamen into a bonafide sex symbol, who even impressed Madonna.
The following year, the queen of pop asked him to record “Each Time You Break My
Heart,” a song co-written by Madonna and Stephen Bray, which hadn’t made the final
track list of “True Blue,” her third album.
The song, for which Madonna provided backing vocals, was single for his first, and
The single cracked the top 5 in the U.K. charts. The album, “Nick Kamen,” peaked at No.
34 in the U.K. charts
On Wednesday, Madonna paid tribute to the late singer on Instagram, sharing a picture
of the two of them in a music studio.
“It’s heartbreaking to know you are gone,” she wrote. “You were always such a kind
sweet human and you suffered too much. Hope you are happier wherever you are
“R.I.P to the most beautiful and sweetest man Nick Kamen!” wrote singer Boy George,
also sharing a photo of the two.