A Melody Maker reviewer, after seeing the band perform live in 1982, published a statement that, in hindsight, has an eerily prophetic quality: “The cavernous voice fills the darkness, then throws itself with disdain into throwaway quotations from a past era. When you see Pete Burns open his mouth to its full width you believe he could swallow the entire psychedelic revival in one movement. This group could conquer yet.”
Dead Or Alive did conquer, before the year was out. And twenty-four years later, the takeover campaign shows no sign of letting up. The band’s immortal dance hit, “You Spin Me Round” was re-released in January 2006, and greeted with frenzied fanfare, courtesy of a fanbase quadrupled by Pete’s recent appearance on Celebrity Big Brother (UK). Dead Or Alive’s official website at www.deadoralive.net receives thousands of unique visits daily.
If Pete Burns had ever truly abandoned the scene, you could call this a revival. But a more accurate term for it would be rediscovery… of a unique talent and unforgettable personality. Attitude magazine gleefully wrote, “Whilst Pete is never far from our minds or indeed our hearts it's been too long since his quite unique vocals have caustically burnt their way into our shared consciousness.”
Exactly. 2006 belongs to Pete and Dead Or Alive.
Dead Or Alive's core members and essential element are Pete Burns and Steve Coy, who hail from Liverpool but now work out of London. Their combined creative genius has produced twenty years' worth of hit singles, eight albums that have gone gold and multi-platinum worldwide, and a visual statement that has kept tongues wagging for nearly two decades. In Japan, one of their biggest markets, they once commanded a million dollars for three shows and forced Michael Jackson to reschedule his Japanese dates so as not to conflict with the equally popular DOA tour. One Japanese daily even trumpeted, FORGET MADONNA, WE'VE GOT PETE BURNS.
The band's strength lies in their solid, lasting product and devoted, ever-expanding fanbase. Unlike the one-hit wonders that clog the charts until flushed away, Dead Or Alive are always developing and progressing. Their artistic philosophy might be summed up as "Been there and done that, now let's move on." Today Burns and Coy are taking themselves to newer heights as the world's only Glam Rock dance band, and Pete in particular commands public intrigue with a never-ending succession of image changes and witty interview quotes. Madonna thinks he's fabulous, and Victoria Beckham put him right next to her on her fantasy dinner party guest list.
Dead Or Alive was created in 1980 by Pete Burns, whose track record included heading the Mystery Girls and Nightmares In Wax. The band enjoyed considerable success in the U.K. independent circuit for three years, and finally took their outrageous act international by signing with Epic Records in 1983. Their debut album, SOPHISTICATED BOOM-BOOM, included DOA's first Top 40 single, a remake of the Seventies hit "That's The Way (I Like It)".
Press and public interest in the band were high when they ventured into the studio in the summer of 1984 to produce YOUTHQUAKE, the album that is still a dance music cornerstone. Newcomer production team Stock-Aitken-Watermann (SAW) joined Pete and Steve in creating a dance phenomenon. The first single, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" took the number one spot in most countries and even broke into the American Top Ten. Subsequent releases from YOUTHQUAKE: "Lover Come Back To Me", "In Too Deep", and "My Heart Goes Bang" became critical successes and club standards.
DOA released a third album, MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW, in 1986. "Brand New Lover", "Hooked On Love", and "Something In My House", all lifted from that record, increased the demand for a world tour, and the band obliged. In Japan they sold out major venues like Jo Hall and the Budokan, and America hailed Dead Or Alive as one of the greatest dance acts to hit the U.S. shores in a long time.
The band reached a turning point in their career in 1988. SAW, whose production juggernaut had been built on the success of their work with DOA, were now churning out one tune after another that were all depressingly similar. Pete and Steve anticipated an eventual backlash. They decided to go their own way and produce themselves. News of their independent move led cynical producers to forecast and even hope for their downfall.
NUDE, the next album, was a huge victory for Dead Or Alive. It spawned the hit single "Turn Around and Count To Ten", which captured the number one spot in Japan for a staggering seventeen weeks. Two more tracks, "Come Home With Me Baby" and "Baby Don't Say Goodbye" set fire to dance charts everyone and led to another large-scale tour of Japan. Even the 45,000 seater Tokyo Dome was filled to overflowing by eager fans. Japan acknowledged DOA's massive popularity by awarding them the Japan Grand Prix Award for album of the year.
In 1990, Pete and Steve limited their involvement with Epic, put out another album (FAN THE FLAME PART ONE), and took some time off from an exhausting six year schedule of recording and touring. But their creative talents did not lie fallow during this comparatively quiet period: in 1994 they released NUKLEOPATRA.
This latest album took dance music to a higher and wilder energy level and, true to formula, was packed with potential hits. The track listing included the pulsating title tune, a rocking remake of the Bowie classic "Rebel Rebel", a revamped and revisited "You Spin Me Round", the club smash "Sex Drive", and the Blondie hit "Picture This". It was the best time fans had had yet on CD, and sales rocketed into the hundreds of thousands range.
Dead Or Alive's millennium offering, FRAGILE (released in Japan on Avex Trax) revisited many of the Eighties hits and presented them to modern dance fans in renewed, revitalized format. There were some new tracks as well: the aggressive "Hit and Run Lover", formidable "I Paralyze" and suggestive, confident "Isn't It A Pity." Dead Or Alive's long-standing following and newer fans who had discovered the past and were anticipating the future responded with hysteria: when prerelease news of FRAGILE reached the public, advance orders numbered in the thousands. A remix album, UNBREAKABLE, was released by Avex as a followup to FRAGILE's success in 2001. Dead Or Alive made a successful appearance at the Avex Rave in Japan in 2001, and Pete Burns went on to do some unforgettable live and television appearances throughout both 2001 and 2002. He was the subject of a critically acclaimed photo exhibit, MANMADE, which had a successful London run.
In the spring of 2002, Dead Or Alive signed with Sony, and in the spring of 2003 released a Greatest Hits package, Evolution, and a 2003 version of "Spin Me Round." A DVD collection of videos and television appearances was released through Sony UK on July 7, 2003.
Pete continues to be in demand on both the stage and television circuit. In early 2004 he made an onstage appearance with the outrageous Scissor Sisters, and recorded a song with the Pet Shop Boys, "Jack and Jill Party". His January 2006 appearance on Celebrity Big Brother provoked a public and media frenzy: Net Imperative, a digital industry website, noted, “Findings from Web research firm Hitwise reveal that the share of UK Internet searches for 'Pete Burns' were nearly two times higher last week than for 'Traci Bingham', the second most searched-for contestant.” The acclaim and intrigue resulted in a January 31 re-release of “Spin Me” and February re-issue of Evolution.
Much of DOA's success can be attributed to the visual image of Pete Burns. His aggressive, enigmatic androgyny inspired and shocked the public in the early Eighties, as well as spawned a succession of imitators of varying talent. He was one of the first artists to appreciate the power of video, and no other performer save Madonna and Marilyn Manson has caused such controversy on the MTV circuit. He has written some of the most wickedly humorous lyrics ever set to a dance beat, and his onstage persona is a show in itself. In many ways Pete is Madonna' s counterpart. He has gone through a series of successful re-inventions in his long career, yet never lost his most intriguing elements: mystery, secret sexuality, and dark humor.
Steve Coy, a prolific keyboard player, drummer, producer, and songwriter, brings stability and professionalism to Dead Or Alive. His creativity in the studio and successful managing of the group's business affairs has strengthened DOA's independence to a degree that their contemporaries can only envy.
Pete and Steve both feel that the best is yet to come. If FRAGILE is far from the pinnacle of their achievements, then they promise a long career of keeping the charts afire. Narrow minds can consider themselves warned.
All video content is provided by Youtube, and any questions, comments, or concerns regarding such content should be directed to Youtube