Ultravox bassist Chris Cross has died, aged 71

Ultravox posed promo for Rage In Eden, 1981
(Image credit: Brian Aris)

Longstanding Ultravox bassist Chris Cross has died, aged 71, his bandmates have confirmed.

Cross, real name Chris Allen, passed away on March 25, but the news was only announced last night.

Cross's Ultravox bandmates Midge Ure and Billy Currie led the tributes to their bandmate, with Ure stating, "We worked together, we played together, made music and directed videos together. We were instant friends as well as Ultravox comrades. Even after years apart we managed to pick up where we left off like the years in between never existed. You were the glue that held the band together. You were the logic in the madness and the madness in our lives. It was great to know and grow with you. You are loved and missed old friend."

Currie added, "Very sad to hear about Chris. We had some amazing times together Laughing mostly."

Born in Tottenham on July 14, 1952, Cross performed in several local bands before joined Lancashire band Stoned Rose, whom he would leave to concentrate on studying art and psychology at art college in London, where he helped form Tiger Lilly alongside John Foxx (known then as Dennis Leigh), guitarist Steve Shears, drummer Warren Cann and keyboard player Billy Currie.

Tiger Lilly renamed themselves as Ultravox! in 1976 and secured a record deal with Island Records. The band released three art rock albums, Ultravox! (1977), Ha!-Ha!-Ha! (1977) and Systems Of Romance (1978) but poor sales lead to Shears' sacking and Foxx's departure in 1979.

Former Slik and Rich Kids member Midge Ure, who had also toured as a stand-in guitarist for Thin Lizzy, replaced Foxx, having been working alongside Currie in synthpop band Visage, heralding the band's most commercially successful era, releasing Vienna (1980), Rage In Eden (1981), Quartet (1982) and Lament (1984), which mixed synthpop with more Krautrock and pomp rock influences.

Cross left the band following 1986's U-Vox album, and remained largely out of the spotlight until he rejoined what is perceived as the classic Ultravox line-up alongside Ure, Currie and Cann in 2008 and toured successfully on the 2009 Return To Eden tour. The band released a final studio album, Brilliant, in 2012 and more recently had been overseeing deluxe box sets of the Ure era albums featuring new Steven Wilson mixes, although Currie announced he was no longer a member of the line-up in 2017 and in the same year Ure said in an interview that any further information were unlikely.

Musicians have been paying tribute to Cross. Waterboy MIke Scott said on Twitter "He was a fellow Findhorn Foundation alumni, though our times there didn't overlap. Hardly anyone knows he ran that community's music production in the late 80s + early 90s, running its label & producing albums."

DJ Rusty Egan, who had performed with Ure in Rich Kids and Visage, added "Goodnight sleep well Chris Cross thank you for all the fun in the 80s and all the epic music with John Foxx and Midge Ure and I was here at 'The Whisky A Go-Go' Los Angeles 1979 and pt 2 had begun."

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.