The song was the band's most successful single. It became a huge dance floor hit and entered the singles charts in late 1980, peaking at #8 in the UK Singles Chart and reaching #1 in both Germany and Switzerland.
"Fade to Grey" was Visage's second single, but their first release on a major label, Polydor. It was released in November 1980, on the same day as the band's debut album, Visage. "Fade to Grey" hit the charts around Europe in late 1980/early 1981, becoming a Top 10 hit in the UK, and a Top 5 hit in five countries as well as reaching number one in Germany and Switzerland.
As Steve Strange explained in 1981, the song's lyric reflects his impression when visiting Berlin and looking over the Berlin Wall at East Berlin. "Everything appeared being grey for me, weird, threatening" he said. "And then I saw an old, tired man moving with a stick. Tired, disappointed of life. And the picture of "Fade to Grey" came to me."
A remix by Bassheads/Andy Stevenson was released in 1993 to promote the Fade to Grey – The Best of Visage compilation (an updated re-release of 1983's Fade to Grey – The Singles Collection). The new version became a modest Top 40 hit in the UK, peaking at #39.
In 2008, Strange appeared on the BBC series Ashes to Ashes performing the song in the Blitz nightclub.