There are few bands that could raise the roof quite like Dead Or Alive, in every sense of the words. First, there was no bigger drag queen on the scene in the 80s than lead singer Pete Burns. At that time, the music industry called it gender-bending, but we all knew what they meant. Some of the glam rockers like David Bowie, Iggy Pop and other might have experimented a bit, but some of the New Wave kids took it to a new level. Like Boy George, Pete was riding the "New Wave" of music, only Burns took it to an edgier extreme, while George went more on the Pop route. Burns certainly enjoyed the Gothic side of music, and it came out in the songs.
Their journey began in 1981, when Dead Or Alive released some non-album songs that didn't really have an impact in the States. In 1984, Pete Burns, Mike Percy, Tim Lever, Steve Coy, and Wayne Hussey were the lineup for the band. That same year, they released the first album, Sophisticated Boom Boom. The first single, "Misty Circles", went to #4 on the US Billboard Dance Charts. As you can see in this video, Boy George and Pete Burns shared that club kid look, although they would soon be taking different stylistic directions.
In 1985, Dead Or Alive released their second album, Youthquake. Well, it certainly had as great an impact as many quakes, for the first single the went to #! on the US Dance chart, and #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Soon, everyone was singing "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" everywhere, and loving every minute of it. Check out the video for the song.
That was followed up by "Lover Come Back To Me". The song, when made it to #13 on the US Dance chart, certainly wasn't as big a winner as the first, but I loved the song, and adored the video. Burns had this deadpan deliver that was too fantastic.
One of my personal favorites was also on the album, "Brand New Love". The song rocketed to the top of the US Dance chart, and soared to #15 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Pete continued to deliver a video performance that seemed like a tired Supreme, so totally over the whole thing, one eye-roll away from yawning. This was so contrasting the feeling of the song, you just had to smile.
I remember hearing them in the clubs and dancing up a storm! There was so much energy and life in their music, you wanted to be on the dance floor with them. n 1989, they were once again riding on top of the US Dance chart with the song "Come Home With Me Baby". It did not do as well in the Pop arena, for many thought the cavalier attitude toward sex at a time when AIDS was widely discussed by many citizens (although no one in the Republican Party). But check out the video for "Come Home With Me Baby".
As the years went on, controversy continued to surround the band. While their time in the spotlight was brief, Pete continues to maintain the attention of the public, and not always in positive ways. His issues with cosmetic surgeons hit the courts, with Burn winning settlements for bad work. Pete also made headlines when he divorced his wife of many years to marry his boyfriend. That didn't ever come to be, and Pete made more headlines distancing himself from gay marriage. Pete also appeared in the British version of the TV show Big Brother. You can purchase the album Evolution: The Hits, a collection of their hit songs, on iTunes and Amazon. To find out more about the band and Pete Burns, visit their official website.