Former Lemon Kittens leader Karl Blake started the Shock Headed Peters in 1983 with Clive Glover, Ashley Wales, Mark Rowlatt, and David Knight. The band's first single, 1984's Stephen Street-produced "I, Bloodbrother Be," caught a fair amount of attention for its subject matter which dealt with a romantic relationship between two men. The full-length Not Born Beautiful was released in 1985 and, like its teaser single, came out on the El label. Life Extinguisher, a four-song EP, was released by Beach Culture the next year. Concurrently, Burns began releasing material as the Underneath. In 1987, an Underneath album preceded the half-studio/half-live Fear Engine on Product Korps. For a couple years, the Shock Headed Peters went into dormancy while Blake busied himself on numerous projects with other acts, including Sol Invictus, Pump, the Greater Good, British Racing Queen, Left Hand Right Hand, and ex-bandmate Danielle Dax.
Several Headed Enemy, the Shock Headed Peters' third album, was released in 1992. For that record, the lineup was pared down to Blake and Knight. Blake continued his involvement with several outside projects around this time; he played with Current 93, Spasm, Arkkon, Chrystal Belle Scrodd, In the Nursery, and Evil Twin (with David Mellor). He also had a whimsical anthology of previously unreleased solo material (Paper-Thin Religion: Solo Archives 1977-1981) released through World Serpent. Shock Headed Peters again went into hibernation as Blake continued to record and release solo material; 1996's Tendercide saw the duo of Blake and Knight revitalized in a quieter, less jarring fashion than before. Blake went on to operate with Ian Reed as Fire and Ice. He also began working on a project called Blake Sabbath, which most certainly takes most of its name from one of Blake's early influences.