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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 44
The record stops spinning for Pete Burns:

Eccentric Dead or Alive singer passes away
Arts & Entertainment
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The record stops spinning for Pete Burns:

Eccentric Dead or Alive singer passes away

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

It was a few weeks into my freshman year of college and I had tickets to see Dead or Alive in concert. I asked a fraternity brother, whom I barely knew, if he wanted to go and he said 'sure.' After pre-funking at our house on Greek Row, we were off to the show at Seattle Center.

I'm pretty sure tickets were only about 10 bucks and I don't remember the exact name of the club, but there we were amongst a gathering of young people who were mostly dressed in black, girls in goth outfits, boys with makeup and people I'd never really come across before. It was one of the first experiences of culture shock that I'd encountered. But I loved it. This was a whole different scene for me.

The concert itself was a bust. Dead or Alive lip-synched the entire 'performance,' In fact, lead singer Pete Burns dropped the microphone at one point and the music kept playing with his vocals. Some people left disappointed, but we didn't care. We were just below the stage. I could practically lick Burns' boots if I wanted to (and I kind of wanted to). He was beautiful. It didn't matter whether he looked like man, a woman, or both. He was a sight to behold. Gorgeous long hair, flawless makeup, statuesque frame, flamboyant, confident, and he could twirl around in circles like no one's business.

Burns and Boy George were two of the earliest gender-bending, androgynous performers that had crossed over successfully to American mainstream music, in the mid to late '80s. They wore women's clothes, thick black eyeliner, blush and lipstick, and they were proud of it. It wasn't just an image, it was who they were - a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

When asked about his sexuality in an old interview, Burns replied that '[People] always want to know - am I gay, bi, trans or what? I say, forget all that. There's got to be a completely different terminology and I'm not aware if it's been invented yet. I'm just Pete.'

At the age of 57, Pete Burns died this week, on October 25, following a massive cardiac arrest. In recent years, he'd appeared on 'Celebrity Big Brother' and had become a tabloid sensation due to his frequent and much publicized cosmetic surgery procedures. But to music fans, we remember him for famously singing 'You spin me right round, baby / Right round, like a record, baby / Right round, round round,' the chorus from Dead or Alive's signature hit 'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).' The only other Top 40 hit the new wave group had was 'Something in My House.'

Boy George, Marc Almond of Soft Cell, (Sam) Preston of The Ordinary Boys were a few fellow artists who paid tribute to Burns by posting messages on social media. George Galloway, who starred alongside him on 'Celebrity Big Brother,' described Burns as 'a cross between Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker.'

The world lost yet another unique, fearless musician. Though he lacked the artistry of David Bowie and Prince, he was a trailblazer of sorts that inspired his fans to be free thinkers and free spirits, and to never leave home without eyeliner. Rest in peace, Mr. Burns. We'll keep spinning that record - right round, baby.

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