Pete Burns Is A “Freak Unique”

If you were a big music fan in the mid-to-late-1980s and you listened to dance and English new wave music, the name Pete Burns should sound familiar.  If not, then his band, Dead or Alive, should ring a bell.  And, if not, you missed out then and you’re missing out now on one of the coolest, most talented, and opinionated entertainers of the past thirty years.

Seriously, you know you’re going to enjoy the story of someone’s life when they title their autobiography, “Freak Unique”.

Pete Burns Freak Unique

Although the book came out in the summer of 2006, I just got around to reading it and what a very honest and touching story Pete has to tell.

I first became aware of Pete Burns and Dead or Alive back in the spring of 1985 while visiting my friends Jeff  and David in Woods Hall across the campus at Murray State.  While I thought the world revolved around Madonna (sorry, Pete), Culture Club, and Duran Duran, my friends were blissed out on “Sophisticated Boom Boom” and “Youthquake”, the first two Dead or Alive’s albums.

I quickly became a fan, too!

“Youthquake” produced the band’s first and biggest American radio hit, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While it was an incredible song that I listened to repeatedly, I loved other tracks on the album even more like “Lover Come Back To Me”, a #13 U.S. Dance chart hit.

But, “In Too Deep” was my favorite and this version from the “Rip It Up Live” concert video is so hot and sexy — Pete and the eye candy!

Much of the press that Pete has gotten over the years ranged from his androgynous looks, the controversial videos that were deemed too provocative for MTV and many video outlets, and the botched reconstructive surgery that almost cost Pete his life.

“Freak Unique” doesn’t hold back.

The book is very touching as Pete takes us through his childhood bonding with his mother who suffered from depression and alcoholism.  It was her attention to her make-up and detail that made him the artist that he became in the punk scene and then as a singer and entertainer.  And, by “artist”, I’m mostly talking about the look.

Pete Burns

Twenty years before the world experienced the ever-changing styles of Lady Gaga, we had Pete Burns.  (Kudos to the artist that posted the collage on Pete’s Twitter account).

I love the fact that Pete doesn’t sugarcoat things in “Freak Unique”.

He tells it the way it is, whether it’s about his introduction to sex (against his will), his sex life, his almost 28-year marriage to his hairdresser friend, Lynne, and his current love, Michael, to his mother’s eventual death that prevented the band from opening for one of the biggest acts in the music business in the late-1980s.

It was interesting reading about how Dead or Alive’s music came together, the tours, how the record company fought the band and Pete over artistic freedoms and funding videos, and how censors saw their videos.

The 1987 video to “I’ll Save You All My Kisses” was one of those videos.  It was deemed too gay.  Um, okay!

Pete isn’t shy when he talks about his love of cosmetically altering his looks with nose jobs, tattoos, and other procedures.

pete-burns-lips

He explains in graphic details of how a simple lip augmentation with a gel called “Outline” by Dr. Maurizio Viel almost killed him.  That procedure caused him to go through years of countless, painful re-constructive surgeries and it ruined him financially and made him homeless!

Luckily, Pete sued the doctor and won a settlement of 450,000 pounds (about $700,000).

Here’s a great interview with Pete that aired on ABC News.

As I’ve said, Pete doesn’t hold back on telling it the way it is.  He loves Cher and, as for Madonna, well, let’s just say that he loves Cher. 🙂

One awesome feature to the book was how he ended it.  There was a whole chapter of random thoughts about what Pete thought of certain people and things.  Many artists would hold back on doing something like this, but not the outspoken and fearless Pete.

Interesting enough, Madonna wasn’t mentioned in that chapter because it was pretty clear throughout “Freak Unique” that he isn’t a fan.

Pete Burns Freak Unique

If you remember Pete’s music or if you’ve only read the headlines over the years of the plastic surgery debacle or his stint on the British “Celebrity Big Brother 4”, you have to find and check out “Freak Unique” to go inside the life of one of pop music’s most entertaining singers.

When I was a dee-jay at the local gay bar in Paducah, Kentucky, in late 1986, I played “Brand New Lover” all the time.  While it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, it spent two weeks on top of the U.S. Dance charts.

And, here’s the career song that is often sampled and remade, but never to the perfection of Dead or Alive’s original!

Pete Burns, just like your Twitter name, you are an ICON!

Anthony

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the insight Anthony, always enjoy learning new things especially about people that I never knew and things that never touched my life much appreciated 🍀🍀

    Reply

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