- 01 May 19
The Portrush singer Gregory Gray had an endlessly fascinating career, which started as a member of a sister band to the Bay City Rollers, called Rosetta Stone...
Hot Press is saddened to report the death last week at his Hertfordshire home of Gregory Gray, AKA Mary Cigarettes.
Just shy of his 60th birthday, the Portrush singer’s remarkable career started in the 1970s when he joined Young City Stars, the band talent spotted by Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton, who promptly changed their name to Rosetta Stone.
Despite a massive promotional push, Japan was the only country that fully succumbed to their teenage charms with sold-out shows there in 6,000-capacity arenas.
“It was a complete Andy Warhol moment,” Gregory told Hot Press in a 1996 interview. “Forget singing or playing an instrument, our sole function was to wet little girls’ knickers and, if we were discreet about it, a few boys’ Y-fronts.
“It was on the back of the Bay City Rollers who were themselves a fake. We were a copy of a copy, playing the Budokan!”
Becoming romantically as well as professionally entangled with Paton, Gregory found himself on the same hedonistic party circuit as the likes of Freddie Mercury.
“You’d have Freddie turning up and going ‘darling, darling, darling for the night,’” he joked.
After a stint fronting the altogether spikier Perfect Crime, Gregory Gray struck out on his own with 1995’s Euroflake In Silverlake, a Peter Gabriel meets the Pet Shop Boys-style confection, which in a parallel universe sold ten million copies and bought Gregory his own island next to Richard Branson’s in the Caribbean.
More recently Gregory Gray reinvented himself as Mary Cigarettes whose celebrity fan club included Jimmy Page and Tom Robinson, who will be paying tribute to him this Saturday on his BBC 6 Music show.
Warm and witty as well as supremely talented, we’re glad we got to make his acquaintance and send our condolences to his friends, family and partner Thomas. Gregory Gray RIP.