In Memoriam

Here I list and succinctly describe various now-deceased individuals who have, in my opinion, played especially important roles in the professional careers of the Pet Shop Boys. It is not my objective here to list every single person no longer with us who has played any role whatsoever in their lives and work. Rather, it is to pay tribute to that relatively small number who repeatedly played highly distinctive if not irreplaceable roles in their lives and work as the Pet Shop Boys. Further, their names would be immediately recognizable to most dedicated PSB fans. To prevent this list from getting out of hand, I reserve the right to be the final arbiter of inclusion. But I readily concede that this is a largely subjective estimation on my part.

Persons are listed here in the order in which they passed away.

Peter Andreas (1963-1994)

A close friend and personal assistant to the Pet Shop Boys who had known them since 1984. For five years he also shared living quarters with Chris and was rumored to be his lover, which has never been either confirmed or denied by the PSB camp. In addition to his supporting role in their personal and professional lives—and making fleeting guest appearances in the "Suburbia" and "Jealousy" music videos—Pete is known to have inspired, either directly or indirectly, several of the Boys' songs. "A Man Could Get Arrested" was based on events that occurred the night they first met. The recurring "you knows" in "You Know Where You Went Wrong" came from Pete's fondness for the phrase, which he often used to punctuate his speech. "I Want a Dog" was triggered by a comment he once made about indeed wanting a dog, but only a chihuahua because he had such a small apartment at the time. The title of "Domino Dancing" was inspired by Pete's habit of doing a little dance whenever he would win at games of dominos with them. (Appropriately enough, he took the photos that appeared on the single's sleeves. He had also snapped the "PSB on TV" photo that became the cover of Disco.) Chris composed "Postscript" as a testimonial to him while Pete was in the late stages of the AIDS-related illness that would claim his life the following year. And it's more than likely that "Paninaro '95"—in particular the new lyrics added since the original "Paninaro"—was similarly inspired by Pete's passing. As a perhaps final public tribute, Neil and Chris dedicated their Alternative b-sides collection to him.



Pete Andreas as he appeared sitting next to Chris when PSB won a BRIT award in 1988

Derek Jarman (1942-1994)

Director, filmmaker, artist, author, and more, Derek Jarman was a man of many talents and interests. Already famous well before the Pet Shop Boys even existed as a duo—especially in more avant garde circles for such films as Sebastiane (1976) and Jubilee (1978)—he first became involved with them when they asked him to direct their music video for "It's a Sin." (Neil and Chris had recently seen and been thoroughly impressed by his 1986 film Caravaggio.) It was followed soon after by his second video for them, "Rent." Jarman then served as the director for their first full-scale tour, MCMLXXXIX, which was visually enhanced by a series of back-projection videos he created, subsequently documented on the Highlights and Projections video releases. (He even made a brief appearance in the back-projection for "Heart.") While continuing to work on assorted other non-PSB projects, such as his acclaimed films The Last of England (1987) and Edward II (1991), Jarman had become a good friend of the Boys and socialized with them on a fairly regular basis. He has even been quoted as once saying of them, "Of all the music people I’ve worked with, they put the most trust in me." Jarman spurred them to take part in several AIDS-related charity functions (one of which inspired them to cover "Go West") before he himself succumbed to the disease on February 19, 1994.



Derek Jarman

Dusty Springfield (1939-1999)

This great British vocalist produced a string of classic hits in the 1960s, including the releases that would ensure her enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: the 1968 album Dusty in Memphis and its biggest hit single, "Son of a Preacher Man." When, however, the hits dried up in the 1970s, she went into semi-retirement and became a virtual recluse, which conversely served only to enhance her legend. When the Pet Shop Boys asked her to duet with them on their 1987 single "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" it seemed a move totally out of left field, but it ultimately provided both the Boys and Dusty with one of their all-time biggest hits and ended up revitalizing her career. They co-helmed her 1990 comeback album Reputation, which granted her two further PSB-penned hit singles, "Nothing Has Been Proved" and "In Private." They also considered recording a cover of the U2 ballad "One" with her in the early 1990s, but those plans came to naught. She died from breast cancer on March 2, 1999, knowing that she was about to be inducted into the aforementioned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not living to see the actual ceremony. Neil was one of the eulogists at her funeral.



Dusty Springfield

J.J. Belle (1955-2004)

A guitarist known for recording with numerous artists—including George Michael, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Grace Jones, Paula Abdul, Tina Turner, When In Rome, and Jimmy Sommerville—Belle specialized in dance-oriented music and did some of his best-known work with the Pet Shop Boys. His guitar can be heard prominantly on a number of their tracks, including "Heart," "Being Boring," "Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)," "Liberation," and "Se A Vida É," among others. He also appears on the album that the Boys produced for Liza Minnelli, Results. And he served as a backup musician (just offstage until the very end) for their famed Performance tour, as documented on VHS and DVD. He lost his prolonged battle with lung and brain cancer on November 26, 2004.



J.J. Belle

Lynne Easton (1959-2005)

Although she first made a name for herself in late-seventies punk rock as bassist for the U.K. bands Muvver's Pride and the Spiders, Lynne Easton (who sometimes spelled her first name "Lyn" and "Lynn") gained her greatest notoriety the following decade as one of the foremost makeup artists and hair stylists for the first "MTV generation" of pop stars. George Michael, Debbie Harry, Bananarama, Elton John, Belinda Carlisle, Terence Trent D'Arby, The Style Council, Robbie Williams, Yoko Ono, and many others benefitted from her cosmetological skills in their music videos, photo shoots, onstage performances, and television appearances. In particular, she is credited with helping to define and refine the "look" of Boy George as the lead singer of Culture Club. In addition to handling the makeup and styling for some of the Pet Shop Boys' own publicity photos and videos (including "Can You Forgive Her?"), she was chosen by Neil and Chris to perform those services on their Performance and DiscoVery tours and their 1997 Somewhere Savoy Theatre stint. (In her capacity as makeup artist for the latter, she even appears in the "Somewhere" music video.) In the early 2000s, however, she retired from cosmetology and reportedly lived in semi-seclusion during her final years, devoting time to animal-rescue and -welfare, before passing away unexpectedly in December 2005.* Inspired by her funeral service, the Pet Shop Boys wrote the song "Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin" as a tribute both to her and to the late-seventies/early-eighties London scene of which she was so much a part.

*Some online sources have inaccurately stated that her death occurred in February 2006. But Neil recorded in his diary attending her memorial service on December 15, 2005, so a February 2006 date is impossible.



Lynne Easton

Dainton Connell (1961-2007)

Nicknamed "The Bear," Connell was the Pet Shop Boys' friend, personal assistant, and at times bodyguard and "minder" for nearly two decades, from 1989 until his death. A frequent if not ubiquitous presence at their personal appearances for much of that period, Dainton has the distinction of appearing in several of their music videos: "So Hard," "Jealousy," "Was It Worth It?" "A Red Letter Day," and "Somewhere." His voice can be heard in the "Here we go… He were go…" sample found in the Very track "One and One Make Five." He also recorded with Chris an obscure track in the early 1990s titled "Here Comes the Bear" (aka "It's the Bear"), which saw posthumous limited release in 2008. While on a visit to Moscow in October 2007, he took part in a birthday celebration for Chris. Very shortly afterward, in the early morning hours of October 5, he was killed as a passenger in an automobile accident—an event that understandably shook the Boys terribly, Chris in particular. They subsequently performed at a special benefit concert in his memory.



Dainton Connell

Ray Roberts (d. 2010)

As the owner of a small basement recording studio named "Camden 8" in the London suburb of Camden Town, songwriter/producer Ray Roberts played a brief but vital role in the story of the Pet Shop Boys. It was there in the early 1980s that Neil and Chris wrote some of their earliest songs together and recorded their first demos. Without the inexpensive recording facilities he provided, the fledgling songwriting duo might never have gotten their career under way. It was, in fact, demos recorded at his studio that Neil shared with Bobby 'O' Orlando in New York City, which led to their first recording contract and the initial release of one of those songs, "West End Girls." Other songs written and/or demoed at Ray's studio include "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," "Love Comes Quickly," "It's a Sin," "Rent," "If Looks Could Kill," "To Face the Truth," "I Want a Lover," "That's My Impression," "A Powerful Friend," "Jealousy," an early version of a song that eventually became "I'm Not Scared," and possibly "Later Tonight," as well as the unreleased tracks "Bubadubadubadum," "Oh, Dear," and "In the Club or in the Queue." Although they would go their separate ways by 1985—PSB having outgrown the services he could provide—they did so on good terms and retained fond memories of each other. He received a "special thanks" in the liner notes for their debut album Please as well as a gold record for it. Years later, in 1996, he contributed audio commentary for the radio documentary About Pet Shop Boys. Chris and Neil were saddened to learn of Ray's death in May 2010 and expressed their condolences on their website.



Ray Roberts

Eric Watson (1955-2012)

A photographer and videographer who helped establish, perhaps more than anyone else aside from Chris and Neil themselves, their visual image during the early years of the Pet Shop Boys' career. Having worked with Neil in the early 1980s at Smash Hits magazine—Watson was the magazine's principal photographer when Neil was a writer and assistant editor—he was asked by the Boys to take their earliest publicity photos in 1984. He remained their primary photographer for the next decade. Watson's work graced the sleeves of more PSB singles than that of any other photographer, including such iconic shots as those associated with "West End Girls," "Suburbia," "It's a Sin," "Rent," and "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More," among others. He also directed or co-directed the bulk of their first decade's worth of music videos, including the career-launching "West End Girls," their "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" collaboration with Dusty Springfield, and the notorious "Domino Dancing" (of which Neil reportedly remarked, "The homoeroticism was all Eric's idea"). All of this is not to ignore his significant body of work outside of the "PSB world" as well. Watson fell victim to a massive heart attack on March 18, 2012.



Eric Watson

Peter Rauhofer (1965-2013)

A genuine legend of dance music, Austrian-born Grammy-winning producer, DJ, and remixer Peter Rauhofer earned fame not only with his own dance hits under the names Club 69 and Size Queen but also for his seemingly countless remixes of other artists' work. Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Scissor Sisters, Destiny's Child, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Seal, Depeche Mode, Janet Jackson—the list goes on and on—are just some of the many artists who benefitted from his remix and production skills. In 1999 he created for the Pet Shop Boys several remixes of "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More." The following year PSB (primarily Neil) worked directly with Rauhofer on a remake of "Break 4 Love." Released in 2001 as by "The Collaboration," it became a U.S. #1 dance hit. PSB and Rauhofer also worked together on another cover, "Kitsch," but they were dissatisfied with the results and it remains unreleased. Nevertheless, the Boys were preparing to ask him to remix one of the tracks from their then-forthcoming album Electric when news arrived of his diagnosis of brain cancer—which, with shocking speed, took his life soon after, on May 7, 2013.



Peter Rauhofer

Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014)

Born in New York City but making his home in Chicago, Frankie Knuckles (born Francis Nicholls) earned the sobriquet "The Godfather of House" for having pioneered in the 1980s what became arguably the single most pervasive, influential style of dance music of the post-disco era. In fact, house music took its name from Chicago's gay club the Warehouse, where Frankie served as musical director. The Pet Shop Boys tapped him to remix two of their songs—"I Want a Dog" and "Left to My Own Devices"—but his indelible stamp ensured that they would become two of the all-time most popular PSB remixes. The former even served as the version of the song that would appear on Introspective, thereby effectively supplanting the original b-side to "Rent" as the best-known and perhaps even definitive version. Aside from just those two tracks, his frequent influence on the Boys is unmistakable. Every number with traits of the house style bears his mark, among them "It's Alright," "Always on My Mind/In My House," "Was It Worth It?" "Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend," "Occupy Your Mind," and "Vocal," not to mention most of Very, several songs on Super, and scads of remixes. Always in demand as a remixer, Frankie went on to score a number of huge dance hits under his own name, including four U.S. Dance #1s. Yet he still once found time to serve as DJ for a special rave-style birthday party for Chris. Having been diagnosed with diabetes in the mid-2000s, he succumbed to complications from the disease on March 31, 2014. Shortly after, Neil and Chris began dedicating some of their show-ending Electric Tour performances of "Vocal" to him.



Frankie Knuckles

David Bowie (1947-2016)

Any attempt to summarize the phenomenal life and work of David Bowie in a single paragraph would be woefully inadequate. He is, almost inarguably, one of the most important figures of the post-Beatles years of rock/pop music. So instead let's focus here simply on his relevance to the career of the Pet Shop Boys. Longtime fans, Chris and Neil in 1996 remixed (more accurately "re-produced") and performed on the single version of Bowie's "Hallo Spaceboy." They also appeared together in the video and performed the song live together at that year's BRIT awards ceremony. The Boys subsequently asked Bowie to remix "I Get Along," but he declined on account of his schedule at the time. Bowie also served as the avowed inspiration for the PSB song "Friendly Fire." Neil once said that whenever he and Chris perform "Sexy Northerner" he has to restrain himself from impersonating Bowie vocally. Neil has also noted that he was "channelling David Bowie" for part of the song "All Over the World," which has, in Neil's words, a "Bowie-like verse melody." Bowie was involved in the Threepenny Opera anniversary project that led to the Boys recording "What Keeps Mankind Alive?" Years later, Neil invited Bowie to take part in his Twentieth-Century Blues Noël Coward tribute project, but he declined. It's quite likely that there would have been other "PSB-Bowie connections" in the years to come had the Thin White Duke not passed away unexpectedly (at least to the general public) on January 10, 2016 following a long but unpublicized struggle with liver cancer. Neil and Chris movingly eulogized him on their official website with the words "We are all Bowie's children. He inspired us and changed our lives."



David Bowie