Candy Harlots guitarist Marc Lee Dé Hugar has died, aged 52

Former bandmate Mark Easton described him as “a guitar genius”

Marc Lee Dé Hugar, a Melbourne-native guitarist best known for his tenure with the glam-rock outfit Candy Harlots (later known as Helter Skelter, then The Harlots), has died at age 52.

His passing was confirmed by an unnamed friend, who wrote on Hugar’s own Facebook profile that he died on the afternoon of Friday January 7. Loud Mag noted that Hugar had been suffering from “a long battle with emphysema and debilitating lung conditions”, which several of Hugar’s social media posts from the past year corroborate.

In a post made on Saturday (January 8), former Candy Harlots frontman Mark Easton wrote that Hugar passed away in hospital, describing him as “a guitar genius” and noting that they “had some great times together”.

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“Marc was 17 when he joined the band,” Easton wrote, “after he played me a tape of his playing! He played so fast I thought he had sped the tape up, so I went around to his grandmother’s house in Paddington to see if he was for real and he proceeded to blow me away totally!”

It’s with great sadness I regretfully have to tell you that the founding guitarist of the Candy Harlots, Marc DeHugar…

Posted by Mark Easton on Friday, January 7, 2022

Candy Harlots formed in 1987, rising from the ashes of underground Sydney group Glam Savages. Hugar joined shortly after the band’s inception, when Easton – then performing alongside guitarist Ron Barrett, bassist Nick Szentkuti and drummer Tony Cardinal – discovered him on a trip to Melbourne.

1989 saw the release of their debut single, ‘Red Hot Rocket’, which was issued by the independent Melbourne label Au Go Go Records. The band racked up a sizeable following in Sydney’s pub-rock scene, and were known as regulars of the city’s Kardomah Cafe and St. James Tavern. Among the bands they caught they eye of were The Cult, Cheap Trick, Divinyls and The Angels, all of whom played shows supported by Candy Harlots.

The band’s popularity surged at the turn of the new decade, with their second single ‘Danger’ landing via the local Timberyard label. Soon thereafter – following a show at the iconic Hordern Pavilion – they formed an alliance American hard-rockers Skid Row. In the early months of 1991, however, both Hugar and Easton left the band.

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Hugar and Cardinal joined the Brisbane outfit Screaming Tribesman, though the former’s tenure with them was short-lived. He went on to play in Dragonfly, whose 2007 EP ‘Zero’ sold out its entire first run of 5,000 copies in the first week of release.

Among the other bands Hugar played in were Brindle Suite, Freekshow, Toychild and Evolution X.

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