Obituary

Madonna Collaborator and Singer-Model Nick Kamen Dies at 59

Nick Kamen
Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

Nick Kamen on Nov. 2, 1987.

He was best known for a Levi's ad and the Madonna co-written "Each Time You Break My Heart."

Nick Kamen, the British model-singer best known for an iconic 1985 Levi's ad and his Madonna co-written 1987 hit "Each Time You Break My Heart," has died at age 59. According to BBC News, a friend of the Kamen family confirmed his death on Tuesday (May 4) after a long, undisclosed illness; at press time no cause of death had been announced.

Kamen, born Ivor Neville Kamen in Essex, England, in 1962, blew up in 1985 when he appeared in a beloved Levi's commercial in which the ripped model stripped down to his boxer shorts as women lustily looked on. The ad, cued to Marvin Gaye's 1968 version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," helped make Kamen a sex symbol and earned him the attention of Madonna.

According to the BBC, she told the news service at the time that she was smitten by Kamen's "charisma" and "beautiful voice." They inspired her to reach out and ask him to record the leftover from her 1986 True Blue album, as well as provide backing vocals on the bouncy synth-pop ditty that climbed to No. 5 on the U.K. singles charts. The "Each Time You Break My Heart" remix also peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart in May 1987. It spent 11 weeks on the chart.

His next single, a cover of the Four Tops' "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," hit No. 16 on the U.K. singles chart and No. 1 in Italy, according to the BBC, with another Madonna collab, 1988's "Tell Me," topping the Italian charts.

Madonna paid tribute to her collaborator on Wednesday (May 5) with pictures of the two and the "Each Time You Break My Heart" cover art. "It breaks my heart to know you are gone. You were always such a kind sweet human and you suffered too much. Hope you are happier wherever you are Nick Kamen," she wrote on her socials.

Friend Boy George also paid tribute, calling Kamen "the most beautiful and sweetest man" in an Instagram post.

Duran Duran's John Taylor honored Kamen, describing him as "one of the loveliest and gentlest men I ever met. He was a beloved friend to my daughter and her Mom. We shall all miss him. RIP Nick."

"Twist in My Sobriety" singer Tanita Tikaram recalled the times they met and said Kamen was "kind & sweet , none of the ego of someone who had just set the world alight with his extraordinary beauty."

Watch "Each Time You Break My Heart" and the Levi's commercial, and see the tributes below.