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Madonna protégé and Levi's model Nick Kamen passes away at 59


Madonna’s protégé and Levi’s launderette model Nick Kamen has died aged 59, it emerged today. 

The Essex-born model, real name Ivor Neville Kamen, is understood to have died yesterday night at his home in West London after a long illness, the nature of which is not yet known. 

News of his death emerged after tributes from friends including Boy George, who called him ‘the most beautiful and sweetest man’, while Susie Cave paid tribute to her ‘dear friend’. 

He was best known for his Madonna-written 1986 hit Each Time You Break My Heart and the 1985 Levis 501 commercial, in which he famously stripped off in a launderette. 

The star’s brother, Barry Kamen, was himself a famous model and stylist who fronted the Eighties Buffalo youth culture scene. He died aged 52 on October 4, 2015, after suffering a heart attack. 

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Nick Kamen (seen here in the last available photo of him from 1995) was best known for his appearance in an iconic 1985 Levi advert

Nick Kamen (seen here in the last available photo of him from 1995) was best known for his appearance in an iconic 1985 Levi advert 

Kamen is understood to have died yesterday at his home in West London (pictured above this afternoon)

Kamen is understood to have died yesterday at his home in West London (pictured above this afternoon) 

The model made his appearances in his career-making Levi's advert aged 18 when he was given the name 'Nick' - which he later adopted

The model made his appearances in his career-making Levi’s advert aged 18 when he was given the name ‘Nick’ – which he later adopted

Alongside a throwback shot Boy George wrote: ‘R.I.P to the most beautiful and sweetest man Nick Kamen!’

Director Mark Lebon, who is followed by designer Kim Jones, was first to share the news with an photo alongside a caption reading: ‘RIP MY DEAR FRIEND’. An Instagram user called Lester Kamen posted a heart under the image.

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Kamen, who was born in Harlow, Essex, first came to public attention when he appeared on the front of The Face magazine in 1984 wearing a ski hat, lipstick and aviator sunglasses.

The next year he starred in an advertisement for Levi’s in which he stripped down to wash his blue jeans in a public launderette and waited in his boxer shorts.

In the iconic advert, he was seen stripping off and washing his clothes in front of a host of onlookers to the sound of Marvin Gaye’s 1968 hit Heard It Through The Grapevine.

The advert, which was directed by Roger Lyons, led to a huge boost in sales for Levi and came forth in a countdown of the 100 greatest ads of all time.

It caught the eye of many – including Madonna – who reached out to Kamen, leading to their collaboration, when she sent him a song she had written with Stephen Bray. 

They then joined forces on the track and he became her protégé. 

Kamen launched a career in pop music in 1986 with the number five hit Each Time You Break My Heart from his eponymous debut album.

After contacting him, Madonna signed on to produce and sing backing vocals on the track.

Kamen’s second single, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever, a cover of the Four Tops’ 1966 hit, was less successful but reached number 16.

Kamen was best known for his Madonna-written 1986 hit Each Time You Break My Heart and the 1985 Levis 501 commercial, in which he famously stripped off in a launderette. Friends including Boy George paid tribute to him today

Susie Cave wrote: 'RIP Nick Kamen my sweet friend'

Kamen was best known for his Madonna-written 1986 hit Each Time You Break My Heart and the 1985 Levis 501 commercial, in which he famously stripped off in a launderette. Friends including Boy George (left) and Susie Cave (right) paid tribute to him today 

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The Essex born model, born Ivor Neville Kamen, sung 1986 hit Each Time You Break My Heart. He is pictured in 1990

The Essex born model, born Ivor Neville Kamen, sung 1986 hit Each Time You Break My Heart. He is pictured in 1990 

The advert then caught the eye of many - including Madonna - who reached out to Kamen, leading to their collaboration, when she sent him a song she had written with Stephen Bray, which they then joined forces on

The advert then caught the eye of many – including Madonna – who reached out to Kamen, leading to their collaboration, when she sent him a song she had written with Stephen Bray, which they then joined forces on

In a BBC radio interview in 1986, Madonna said she was inspired by Kamen’s ‘charisma’ and ‘beautiful voice’, which led her to reaching out to him. 

After they were made acquaintance, Madonna volunteered to write and produce the song Each Time You Break My Heart, where she also makes a cameo, singing background vocals in the bridge of the song towards the end. 

His relationship with Madonna hit headlines in the Eighties while she was dating Sean Penn. 

It was claimed that she had cheated with Kamen – an accusation she staunchly denied despite claims although he was made ‘wildly jealous’. 

Kamen went on to have another public romance with famed wild child Amanda de Cadenet from 1999 to 2001. She was also linked to actor Keanu Reeves and Duran Duran’s John Taylor.

Film director Mark Lebon, who is followed in social media by Dior director Kim Jones, was first to share the news with an image alongside a caption reading: 'RIP MY DEAR FRIEND'

Film director Mark Lebon, who is followed in social media by Dior director Kim Jones, was first to share the news with an image alongside a caption reading: ‘RIP MY DEAR FRIEND’

News of the Levi's star and Madonna protégé's death on Tuesday night came after social media tributes arose the following morning when his friend Boy George shared a message on Instagram

News of the Levi’s star and Madonna protégé’s death on Tuesday night came after social media tributes arose the following morning when his friend Boy George shared a message on Instagram

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