Dead Or Alive was a British goth/pop band from Liverpool, England, founded in 1980 who were previously called Nightmares In Wax. The group disbanded after the death of Pete Burns (5 Aug. 1959 – 23 Oct. 2016) and found success in the 1980s with seven Top 40 UK singles and three Top 30 UK albums. They were the first group to have a number one single under the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. Dead or Alive, which has variously included Pete Burns (vocalist), Wayne Hussey (guitarist), Mike Percy (bassist), Steve Coy (drummer) and Timothy Lever (various instruments), have released seven studio albums and five compilation albums, and became popular in Japan.
In 1977 Pete Burns formed a band with contemporaries Julian Cope, Pete Wylie, and Phil Hurst, calling themselves The Mystery Girls. They played only one gig (opening for Sham 69 at Eric's in Liverpool in November 1977) before disintegrating. Burns returned in spring 1979 with a new band, Nightmares In Wax (original name: 'Rainbows Over Nagasaki'), featuring a gothic post-punk sound, with backing from keyboardist Martin Healy, guitarist Mick Reid (ex-Crash Course and Glass Torpedoes), drummer Paul Hornby (ex 051 and Pink Military), and bassist Walter Ogden. Nightmares in Wax played their first gig at Eric's in June 1979, and were signed to the associated Eric's Records label, although their only recording, a three-track 7" EP entitled 'Birth of a Nation', was released in March 1980 by Inevitable Records. (Read more on Wikipedia.)
Burns died following a sudden cardiac arrest on 23 October 2016 at the age of 57, following previous episodes of deep vein thromboses and pulmonary embolisms on a background of multiple surgical procedures and medications.
Links To Peel
As outlined in the Peel-narrated TV documentary Rock Family Trees: The New Merseybeat, Pete Burns had been in earlier Liverpool bands with Julian Cope (Teardrop Explodes) and Pete Wylie (Wah), before entering the recording studio for the first time with Nightmares In Wax, whose debut single was played by Peel on release in March 1980. Two months later, Burns changed the name of the band to Dead Or Alive, who did two sessions for Peel's show, the second with a lineup featuring Wayne Hussey, who subsequently did another for Sisters Of Mercy.
After a series of independent singles, DOA found commercial success with the production team Stock Aitken Waterman, including the #1 hit 'You Spin Me Round'. While Burns' eccentric and androgynous appearance attracted attention, often leading to comparisons with Culture Club and its lead singer Boy George, Peel did not play their later commercial material on his shows, although he did introduce the band on Top Of The Pops.
Two sessions only. Both officially released on Birth Of A Nation: Inevitable Records – An Independent Liverpool 1979-1986, Singles, B-Sides and Peel Sessions v/a 3xCD, 2019 (Cherry Red)
- Nowhere To Nowhere / Running Wild / Flowers / Number 11
- Misty Circles (Part 1) / Misty Circles (Part 2) / Number 12 / Untitled
Other Shows Played
- 12 March 1980: Black Leather (single) Inevitable (under the name of Nightmares In Wax)
- 15 March 1980 (BFBS): Black Leather (7" - Birth Of A Nation) Inevitable INEV 002 (under the name of Nightmares In Wax)
- 01 April 1980: Shangri-La (Various Artists LP - Hicks From The Sticks) Rockburgh (under the name of Nightmares In Wax)
- 10 April 1980 (BFBS): Shangri-La (v/a album - Hicks From The Sticks) Rockburgh ROC 111 (under the name of Nightmares In Wax)
- 03 January 1981 (BFBS): I'm Falling (7") Inevitable INEV 005
- 25 January 1981 (BFBS): I'm Falling (7") Inevitable INEV 005
- 10 March 1981: I'm Falling (7") Inevitable INEV 005
- 18 May 1981: Number Eleven (7") Inevitable INEV 008 (JP: 'Chartbound sound! Well, not really, but one can dream.)
- 25 May 1981: Number Eleven (7") Inevitable INEV 008
- 04 June 1981 (BFBS): Number Eleven (7") Inevitable INEV 008
- 21 July 1981: Number Eleven (7") Inevitable INEV 008
- 09 February 1982: It's Been Hours Now (12") Black Eyes BE1
- 14 February 1982 (BFBS): It's Been Hours Now (12") Black Eyes BE1
- 14 February 1982 (BFBS): Nowhere To Nowhere (12" - It's Been Hours Now) Black Eyes BE1
- 02 March 1982: It's Been Hours Now (12") Black Eyes BE1
- 17 March 1982 (BBC World Service): Nowhere To Nowhere (12" - It's Been Hours Now) Black Eyes BE1
- 28 March 1982 (BFBS): Whirlpool (12" - It's Been Hours Now) Black Eyes BE1
- 14 April 1982 (BFBS): It's Been Hours Now (12") Black Eyes BE1
- 23 August 1982: The Stranger (7") Black Eye
- 07 September 1982: The Stranger (7") Black Eye
Top Of The Pops
- 07 March 1985 (TOTP): You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (#01)
- 25 December 1985 (TOTP): You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)