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)

DEAD OR ALIVE John Peel 4th February 1981

DEAD OR ALIVE John Peel 4th February 1981

1. Recorded: 1981-02-04. Broadcast: 17 February 1981. Repeated: 04 March 1981, 16 March 1981

  • Nowhere To Nowhere / Running Wild / Flowers / Number 11

2. Recorded: 1982-03-01. Broadcast: 18 March 1982. Repeated: 15 April 1982

  • Misty Circles (Part 1) / Misty Circles (Part 2) / Number 12 / Untitled

Other Shows Played

Nightmares In Wax - Black Leather

Nightmares In Wax - Black Leather

Dead Or Alive - Flowers (Celebration 1980)

Dead Or Alive - Flowers (Celebration 1980)

Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)


Top Of The Pops

See Also

External Links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.