Hailing from Liverpool, the band started in 1980 with keyboardist Marty Healey, guitarist Mitch, bassist Sue James, and drummer Joe Musker. The band had a few hits like "I'm Falling" & "Number Eleven", but the rising recognition of other acts like Duran Duran meant the public quickly forgot about them. In response, the line-up was retooled, with Wayne Hussey and Mike Percy becoming the new guitarist and bassist, respectively. After signing on with Epic Records, the singles started rocking the charts around 1984, with music videos on MTV giving the band a much needed boost.
Their albums were popular, if not well-reviewed, until the release of Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, which was considered very bad by critics and fans alike (though the Japanese fanbase liked it). After 1988's Nude, the band lost several principal members, essentially making them dead, yet still alive, with three more albums being released from 1995 onward.
Unfortunately, Pete Burns died of a heart attack in 2016, with fellow member Steve Coy dying in 2018, finally causing the band to be dead, not alive.
- Sophisticated Boom Boom (1984)
- Youthquake (1985)
- Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know (1986)
- Nude (1988)
- Nude - Remade Remodelled - (1989) (A Japanese-only remix of Nude)
- Fan the Flame (Part 1) (1990)
- Nukleopatra (1995)
- Fragile (2000) (Another Japanese-only album combining new songs with re-recordings and remixes of existing material)
- Unbreakable_The Fragile Remixes (2000) (Different remixes of the Fragile songs—unreleased outside Japan until 2017)
Dead or Alive provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: There was no Fan the Flame (Part 2).
- Bald of Awesome: Tim Lever, the band's 1983-89 keyboardist.
- Break-Up Song: "Brand New Lover" is a surprisingly mean-spirited one, with the speaker leaving his partner because he was bored of their "sweet nature", searching for a new lover because he's a "pleasure seeker"
- Camp Gay: Downplayed with Pete, but he did have the tendency to dance & pose theatrically in his music videos.
- Cover Version: A few, including KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)", Blondie's "Picture This", and David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel".
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Pete Burns, of course. Actually one of the first New Wave/New Romantic examples, beating both Boy George and Marilyn by a few years. He historically wavered on his gender identity; at some points, he identified as a man, but he had also identified as nonbinary (without using that exact word) at others, so his true, definitive gender identity is still not known.
- Eyepatch of Power: Burns wears one in some photos and music videos, like the one for "You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)".
- Friendly Enemy: Pete Burns & Boy George. Despite the fact that they seemed to be bitter rivals in the 80's, with Pete publicly accusing George of plagiarizing his look, they grew to have a grudging respect for each other from the 90's onward. When Pete's husband didn't have any money to pay for his burial, being broke as hell, George paid for the whole funeral. Awww...!
- Gender-Neutral Writing: Similar to Culture Club, most of the songs dealing with romance use the word "lover" instead of "she" or "her". Given that Pete later married a man, it's quite fitting.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Pete Burns & Morrissey, though the heterosexual part is a bit iffy (there's rumours they actually had sex with each other).
- I Am Not Pretty: Pete felt this way about his looks due to being bullied for being ugly growing up, which led him to become a plastic surgery addict, destroying his naturally-good looks in the process.
- Intercourse with You: "You Make Me Wanna" is one using canine metaphors. Yes, really. Though, there is some (unintentional?) hilarity in the lyric "And I've been howling out loud for some black meat"...
- I Was Quite a Looker: Notably, after around 1998 or so, Pete Burns transformed from an androgynous yet handsome man to being a generic Drag Queen after getting a shitload of plastic surgeries - over 300, to be exact. Of course, given that the purpose of plastic surgery is to make you more attractive...
- It should be noted, however, that Burns was made fun of in his youth for being ugly - naturally, when he became famous, he got an insane amount of reconstruction to overcompensate.
- Jerkass: Intentionally or not, the speaker of "Brand New Lover" comes across as one.
- Mr. Fanservice: Pete Burns, as befitting of a New Wave band vocalist.
- One-Word Title: The albums Youthquake, Nude, Nukleopatra and Fragile, along with Nukleopatra's Title Track and the early B-Sides "Flowers", "Namegame" and "Whirlpool".