Dead Or Alive frontman Pete Burns was an eighties icon, whose life was tragically cut short at just 57 years old.
The Liverpudlian had struggled with a troubled life before his untimely death from a cardiac arrest in October 2016.
Pete certainly didn’t have the easiest start in life and spent his formative years watching his mum battle alcohol and drug addiction.
The telly personality, who came fifth in Celebrity Big Brother in 2006, was born in Cheshire to his German mother – a Holocaust survivor – and a Liverpudlian father.
Pete once described his upbringing as unconventional and his childhood as solitary, but said he was brought up “with an incredible amount of freedom and creativity”. He grew up speaking only German and a little French until he was five.
His mum was traumatised after surviving the Holocaust and turned to substance abuse when her son was 14 years old.
Opening up about his childhood, Pete previously told OK! magazine: “I couldn’t take it. I’d come home and find her with her wrists slashed and blood splattered all over the place.”
At the same age, Pete dropped out of school after his dyed red hair and oversized earring attracted outrage. He found work at a local record store.
Here he met musicians and eventually formed goth-influenced band Nightmares In Wax in 1979, which became Dead Or Alive the following year after Pete overhauled the line-up.
His rise to fame came in the New Pop era, epitomised by icons Boy George and Culture Club, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Wham!.
His androgynous look, intriguing style and ambiguous sexuality found him fitting in at the right place at the right time for the first time in his life.
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.
He married his stylist Lynne Corlett in 1978, seven years before Pete hit the big time.
In his heyday as a pop star, Pete achieved chart-topping success with You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) with his band Dead Or Alive.
It was during his most successful years that Pete decided he wanted surgery, a call that was fully supported by his wife at the time.
Sadly, the operation wasn’t a success and he was left with a nose so crooked that he couldn’t even wear sunglasses.
But the botched procedure didn’t put him off as Pete went on to have countless more operations in a desperate bid to change his look.
Eventually, he was unrecognisable from the handsome star he was at the start of his career and he became a poster boy for botched surgery.
Before his death, the star appeared on Channel 5’s Celebrity Botched Up Bodies and confessed to going under the knife more than 300 times.
After their initial success, Dead Or Alive released several albums in the 90s, with limited triumph.
Heartbroken and feeling disfigured, Pete went on to develop depression and attempted to take his own life on more than one occasion.
He shared: “In 1997 a severe depression hit me, but I didn’t respond well to anti-depressants.
“It still occasionally hits me, but I’m in the hands of a fantastic psychiatrist and I’m on medication that works.”
But in 2002, Pete underwent a particularly devastating procedure in a desperate bid to get fuller lips, which would permanently change the course of his life and see his mental health spiral further.
Despite seeing a top doctor, the procedure went horrifically wrong and his lips swelled some 18 inches.
He recalled: “I started to develop holes in my skin and if I so much as touched my face there would be an audible hissing and out onto the mirror would vomit this yellow fluid.”
Pete went on to successfully sue the surgeon behind the botched op and received £450,000 in compensation.
But the humiliation triggered him to spiral into another deep depression – although it didn’t stop him from investing in more plastic surgery.
He likened plastic surgery to “buying a new sofa”. He boasted: “There’s not a part of me, apart from the soles of my feet, which has not had work done.
“For me plastic surgery is a matter of sanity, not vanity.”
- Tragic Pete Burns was broke when he died and needed to borrow cash from friends, claims pal George Galloway
Following Pete’s fall from fame and disasters on the operating table, he decided to embrace reality TV – after he had spent years protesting that he would never do it. “I still have a career, and I don’t really do reality,” he said in 2003.
His larger-than-life personality and cutting manner proved a huge hit in 2006 when Pete appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.
Pete’s surgery addiction and ever-changing appearance weren’t the only controversies that thrust him back into headlines while on the reality show.
He was slammed by animal rights activists for wearing a coat that he claimed was made from gorilla fur.
His bizarre wardrobe choice triggered a spectacular falling out with then housemate Jodie Marsh.
The pair argued repeatedly on the show and he shocked fans with the insults he hurled at her.
- Most shocking Celebrity Big Brother moments ever – from Roxanne Pallett being ‘punched’ to Kim Woodburn getting hauled out by security
Pete came fifth on the popular show, but spiralled again the same year.
In 2006, Pete divorced his wife of 28 years and went on to enter into a civil partnership with Michael Simpson.
Although the couple divorced in 2006, both Pete and Lynne acknowledged that the singer was involved with Michael a year before they called time on their marriage.
While many women would have been outraged by this betrayal, Lynne appeared to accept the infidelity.
Speaking about their break-up in 2006, she told the Mirror: “It was time to move on and we’re still best friends. We hadn’t drifted apart – we’re still as close as we ever were.
“We just needed a change. It was a time when mutually we had to grow in different directions.
“Michael is a lovely man and we get on well. I have no problems with that.”
Pete and Michael split just 10 months after their partnership, but went on to reunite and were together when the singer died.
Pete revealed he was still extremely close with ex-wife Lynne and in 2008, he said: “We’re still really, really close. It’s not about sexuality, it’s about the person.”
The pair remained very much part of each other’s lives right up to Pete’s death.
When Pete’s team tweeted the news about Pete’s death, the message was signed off by his manager, his partner Michael Simpson and his ex-wife Lynne – proving how close the former couple still were.
Pete’s life went through some major changes in 2006, and the star hit headlines once again for the wrong reasons.
- Pete Burns’ devoted ex-wife Lynne Corlett was by his side as he died as nature of her unwavering loyalty emerges
Pete was arrested for assault after a fight with but allegedly narrowly avoided prison thanks to his Celebrity Big Brother pal George Galloway.
The MP told The Big Issue: “I got him out of jail. I had to go to a police station and pay a sum of money, of surety, to get him out of the cells. A fracas? There’s been a lot of fracas!”
In the years that followed Pete struggled further.
Despite his impressive career, Pete filled for bankruptcy in 2014 after spending his fortune on plastic surgery.
In 2015, Burns was evicted from his London flat. He and his partner Michael were in such financial turmoil that they were evicted from the home. Pete had run up £34,000 in rent arrears.
The couple stayed together throughout the difficult time, right up until the star’s death.
A month before he died, Burns appeared on Channel 5’s Celebrity Botched Up Bodies and talked frankly about his horrific experiences with cosmetic surgery, which had given him near-fatal blood clots and pulmonary embolisms as he underwent further procedures to try to correct mistakes.
Burns likened himself to “Frankenstein”, revealing the large amount of medication he was taking for surgery exerted a tremendous toll on his health.
“I developed blood clots and pulmonary embolisms in my legs, heart and lungs,” he told Channel 5.
“I was getting these black marks on my skin and I thought they were bruises. The next thing my driver came in and I was unconscious, not breathing.”
He said he spent 10 days fighting for his life in hospital but finally recovered.
Pete reflected on how he got into surgery on the show, commenting: “When you’re young and you’re very self-conscious and you’re standing in front of a camera and the photographers’ just whispering, ‘will you turn his head to the left because you’ve got a lump on his nose.’
“I hope when I’m 80 that I get to heaven God doesn’t recognise me,” he tragically added.
A month after the show aired, Peter died in October 2016 after suffering a massive heart attack.