A Coleraine man described as ‘an influential Irish post-Punk pioneer and gay icon’ has died at the age of 59.
Born Paul Lerwill in Coleraine on May 1959, ‘Gregory Gray’ as he became knowns was the lead singer and songwriter of Perfect Crime, an early 80s post-punk band.
They released two singles on MCA records before disbanding. While first single, ‘Brave’, didn’t bother the charts, it possessed a sonic signature that was radically different from other Northern Irish groups at the time. Perfect Crime played as support band to U2 on their War tour, and the only artists from Ireland to join the star-studded line-up that performed at U2’s first ‘homecoming’ concert in Dublin’s Phoenix Park Racecourse to 25000 people after ‘conquering’ the world in the summer of 1983.
Gray went on to release three studio albums on major labels as a solo artist. Think of Swans (CBS, 1986), Strong at Broken Places (Atco/Polygram, 1990) and Euroflake in Silverlake (EMI, 1995). In the late 1990s, Gregory moved to leafy Hertfordshire to be with his partner Thomas. On finding their ideal home, they created a beautiful music room (he hated the term ‘studio’) and reinvented himself as the deliberately gender-ambiguous Mary Cigarettes. At this point, he began to make the most compelling music in his entire oeuvre, exhibiting his work on online platforms, such as YouTube and SoundCloud, having left ‘the business’ behind him.