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One of the lesser-known names in the incipient goth rock scene of early-'80s England, Play Dead combined both a relatively derivative combination of influences and some individual flashes of brilliance to make a low-key cult name for itself. A quartet, the band came together in late 1980 in Banbury near Oxford. After initially playing with another guitarist, one Re Vox, a lineup shuffle resulted in the final form of the group: guitarist Steve Green, singer Rob Hickson, bassist Pete Waddleston, and drummer Mark "Wiff" Smith. Early singles with Re Vox, including "TV Eye" (not the Stooges' proto-punk classic), were disdained by the band themselves, but after some label weirdness and semi-enforced withdrawal from recording, Play Dead put it all together with its classic single "Propaganda." Further singles and EPs followed, along with sessions for BBC radio and a notable tour with Sex Gang Children. Full releases continued up through 1985, but soon after a final live show late that year, Waddleston quit the band and moved to India. The rest of the band reformed as the Beastmaster Generals, but nothing surfaced outside of some demos, and Play Dead essentially ceased to be.

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