Their fun image was brought to a sudden halt, however, when Colin Routh got into serious trouble for having an affair with an under-age girl. He left the band, leaving Barton to carry on with a new sidekick, Dean Michael, but the magic and fun of Black Lace were gone. By 1986, Barton had accepted an invitation to replace Chris Norman as the lead singer with the considerably more credible band Smokie. He managed to juggle both Black Lace and Smokie for a while, but eventually devoted his full attention to the latter band, changing them from a soft rock outfit into a comedy routine-based outfit, even re-recording one of their biggest hits, "Living Next Door to Alice" with blue comedian Roy Chubby Brownas "Alice (Who the Fuck Is Alice)."
Barton's place in Black Lace was taken by lookalike and soundalike Rob Hopcraft, so the band continued with a totally new duo as if nothing had happened, still living on the disco circuit and still playing the old party hits. Barton was killed in Germany on the March 23, 1995, when the Smokie tour bus crashed into a ravine in a hailstorm. With its new personnel, however, Black Lace continued into the 21st century, as well as Colin Routh, going under the name Colin Gibb and performing the Black Laceshow on the island of Tenerife, both acts living on past glories, and especially the song "Agadoo," which had the dubious honor of being voted by Q Magazine's reader and music critics as the worst song ever in 2003, beating "Orville's Song" and "There's No-One Quite Like Grandma."
Last month Barton had finished a nine-date tour with Smokie to promote Celebration. He was on his way to the airport in Germany when the band's minibus plunged down a ravine during a hailstorm and crashed near Cologne. Barton died a few days later.