I just heard that Pete Burns died Saturday night at the age of 57 of cardiac arrest. Some of you may remember him as the front man for the group, “Dead or Alive” and their exceptionally nostalgic hit, “You Spin Me ‘Round (Like a Record).” But, I always thought of Pete Burns as much more than that.
I, like many, first heard of him with their hit back in the early 80’s, but I kept following him, because I have a tremendous respect for very strong characters. It’s true, I have a very diverse list of heroes. I appreciate artists with unique tendencies, and Pete Burns was no different.
I kept following his career and found that he was always a “go-to” when I needed a particular sort of inspiration. In many respects he had become a legend in the arts community because of his own particular bravado. And I appreciated that about him. Perhaps that’s why he was one of my heroes. When Boy George was stealing the spotlight with a very feminine approach to gender bending in the 80’s, Pete Burns was more aggressive, darker, more cynical and sinister and it was awesome. And his voice was TRULY great. Full of bombastic tremble and howls. His ideas of beauty were extreme and challenging. But, most importantly, he showed you could be different and be strong about, not victimized by it. And I don’t tolerate self victimization and self pity.
It’s sad when one of your heroes dies. We don’t know some of these celebrities, but they do have overwhelming influences on us, so when they do pass away, there is a definite sense of loss. So, when I heard of his sudden death, I did get emotional, and found something inside me that was quite hollow, something seemed missing. However, that emptiness was soon filled with a great sense of respect for his artistry and his impact on music and culture. When our heroes die, we rely on the very reasons they were our heroes to begin with, in order to grieve in our own interesting ways. Those very traits that drew us to them, also fill that abrupt emptiness that opens up when they die. He was strong, independent, unapologetic about his work. That’s why I appreciated him. He was simply strong. And that’s how I shall remember him.
My deepest condolences to his friends and family, and with much respect, a heartfelt farewell to one of my heroes, Pete Burns.