Pete Burns, lead singer of the Eighties goth new wave band Dead or Alive and their smash “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” died Sunday after suffering cardiac arrest, his management said Monday. Burns was 57.
“It is with the greatest sadness that we have to break the tragic news that out beloved Pete Burns of (Dead Or Alive), died suddenly yesterday of a massive cardiac arrest,” Burns’ Facebook alerted fans.
“All of his family and friends are devastated by the loss of our special star,” the message read. “He was a true visionary, a beautiful talented soul, and he will be missed by all who loved and appreciated everything he was and all of the wonderful memories the has left is with.”
Boy George, who weathered comparisons both musically and stylistically to Burns, tweeted of the Dead or Alive singer, “Tearful about the passing of @PeteBurnsICON he was one of our great true eccentrics and such a big part of my life! Wow. Hard to believe!”
The androgynous Burns, who began cross-dressing as a six-year-old, emerged in the late Seventies as a member of the goth band Nightmares in Wax, which released their lone EP Birth of a Nation, highlighted by the single “Black Leather,” in 1979 before adopting the name Dead or Alive.
After a string of singles, including “The Stranger,” Dead or Alive released their debut album Sophisticated Boom Boom in 1984, with the band transforming KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s the Way (I Like It)” into an unlikely hit.
“The trouble is that people are all too ready to jump to conclusions about anybody who they think looks a bit strange. They think you must be mentally subnormal,” Burns once said of his unique appearance in an interview. “Over the years I’ve had to learn how to deal with people who refuse to take me seriously. That’s where I learnt the blunt side of my character.”
The following year, Youthquake arrived accompanied by the group’s biggest hit “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” The single reached Number One on the U.K charts and peaked at Number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2006, the song returned to the British charts – at Number Five – following Burns’ infamous appearance on Celebrity Big Brother.
Three years later, Flo Rida and Kesha’s take on the song, dubbed “Right Round,” topped the Billboard 200 and shattered then-digital sales records.
The singer also recorded notable Dead or Alive hits with “Brand New Lover” and “Something in the House.”
Following the Eighties, however, Burns became more known for his reality TV appearances and ever-changing look – Burns underwent countless cosmetic surgeries over the past decades, with heavy physical consequences – than his music.
“People redecorate their homes every few years and I see this as no different. Changing my face is like buying a new sofa,” Burns told the Daily Mail after another string of surgeries left him virtually unrecognizable.
As Dead or Alive’s only constant member, Burns continued to tour under the group’s moniker until his death.