Dead Can Dance formed in Melbourne, Australia, in August 1981 with Paul Erikson on bass guitar, Lisa Gerrard (ex-Microfilm) on vocals, Simon Monroe (Marching Girls) on drums and Brendan Perry (Marching Girls) on vocals and guitar.
Gerrard and Perry were also a domestic couple and they left Monroe in Australia when they moved to London in May 1982, where they signed with alternative rock label 4AD Records.
With the duo, the initial United Kingdom line-up were James Pinker, Scott Rodger and Peter Ulrich.
The group's debut album, Dead Can Dance, which appeared in February 1984, was produced by the band.
By 1989, Gerrard and Perry had separated domestically – Gerrard returned to Australia and Perry moved to Ireland – but they still wrote, recorded and performed together as Dead Can Dance.
Wider acceptanceDead Can Dance's albums were not widely available in the United States until the early 1990s, when 4AD made a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records. Later, 4AD allied itself with the Beggars Banquet Records Group, which included that eponymous label and XL Recordings in the US, but the band's recordings remained distributed through Warner Bros. Records. Subsequent releases, however, were licensed to Rhino/Atlantic Records, a sister label within Warner Music. Its 1991 compilation A Passage in Time remains with 4AD independently of the Rhino and Warner Bros. deals; it was initially only released in the US.
The duo's sixth studio album, Into the Labyrinth, was issued in September 1993 and dispensed with guest musicians entirely; it sold 500,000 copies worldwide and appeared on the Billboard 200.
The band became 4AD's highest-selling act.
They followed with a world tour in 1994 and recorded a live performance in California which was released as Toward the Within, with video versions on Laserdisc and VHS (later on DVD). Many unofficial bootlegs of concerts spanning its career exist, containing several rare songs that were only performed live. Toward the Within is the duo's only official live album, which reached the Billboard 200.
Gerrard released her debut solo recording, The Mirror Pool, and reunited with Perry on the Dead Can Dance studio album Spiritchaser in 1996. The album also charted on Billboard 200 and reached No. 1 on the Top World Music Albums Chart.
Dead Can Dance planned a follow-up to Spiritchaser, but the band separated before it was realised. One song from the recording sessions, "The Lotus Eaters", was eventually released on the box set Dead Can Dance (1981-1998) and on the 2-disc compilation Wake (2003). Gerrard teamed with Pieter Bourke (Snog, Soma) to issue Duality in April 1998. Perry released Eye of the Hunter in October 1999.
Perry at extreme right.Dead Can Dance reunited in 2005 and released limited-edition recordings of 13 shows from its European tour, and 8 recordings from the subsequent North American tour, as well as a compilation titled Selections from Europe 2005. These concerts were recorded and released on The Show record label.
On 30 September 2011, Dead Can Dance announced the release of a four track EP entitled Live Happenings – Part 1 available for free download from their website. Since December the EP Live Happenings - Part 2 replaced the first EP. Both EPs contain songs from their 2005 Tour. Since January 31, 2012, the EP available was Live Happenings – Part 3, to be replaced by Live Happenings - Part IV on March 20, 2012.
In late 2011, the band announced a reunion World Tour, including 12 US cities, to be accompanied by the release of a new album on a new label.