Pete Burns, frontman of Dead or Alive, dies aged 57
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The singer Pete Burns, who founded pop group Dead Or Alive, has died of a cardiac arrest aged 57.
Burns rose to fame in the 1980s with the band’s hit song You Spin Me Round (Like a Record). He also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, coming fifth in the final.
A statement released by his partner, Michael Simpson, his ex-wife, Lynne Corlett, and his manager and former band member, Steve Coy, read: “All of his family and friends are devastated by the loss of our special star. He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul and will be missed by all those who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories he has left us with.”
Born in Cheshire to a Liverpudlian father and German mother who was a survivor of the Holocaust, Burns described his upbringing as unconventional. His mother was an alcoholic, and attempted suicide several times when Burns was growing up.
“As far as parental skills go in the conventional, normal world, she certainly wasn’t a mother, but she’s the best human being that I’ve ever had the privilege of being in the company of, and I know that she had a special plan for me,” he said. “She called me ‘Star Baby’ and she knew that there was something special in me.”
Never one to conform to the rules, Burns dropped out of his Liverpool boys school at the age of 14 after he was summoned to the headmaster’s office “with no eyebrows, Harmony-red hair and one gigantic earring”. He began working in a record shop in Liverpool, where he formed his first band, the Mystery Girls, though they played only one gig. Burns formed Dead Or Alive with Mike Percey, Steve Coy and Tim Lever in 1980.
Burns became famous for his androgynous style and his progressive approach to gender. He often wore women’s clothes and, speaking to the Guardian in 2007, said: “Everyone’s in drag of some sorts, I don’t give a f— about gender and drag. I’m not trying to be a girl by putting on a dress – gender is separated by fabric. I was brought up with an incredible amount of freedom and creativity. Society has put certain constraints on things.”
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