R.I.P. Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks

Punk Legend Died of a Suspected Heart Attack

Dec 06, 2018
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Pete Shelley of 1970s punk legends Buzzcocks has died. According to various news reports, including the BBC, the 63-year-old died this morning of a suspected heart attack at his home in Estonia.

Shelley (born Steve McNeish) formed Buzzcocks in 1976 with Howard Devoto (born Howard Trafford) at the Bolton Institute of Technology. The duo travelled down to London to see Sex Pistols later that year and invited the band up to Manchester to perform, with intentions of Buzzcocks opening for them. Those plans went awry when the other members of Buzzcocks dropped out and there wasn't enough time to find replacements. Still, Buzzcocks made their live debut the second time Sex Pistols performed Manchester, the following month, opening for the band. By that point Steve Diggle had joined on guitar and John Maher on drums. That early line-up recorded one four-song EP, Spiral Scratch. But then Devoto left the band, later forming Magazine. Shelley thus became the primary singer and songwriter in the band.

Buzzcocks released their first two albums in 1978, Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites. The latter contained probably their best-known song, "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)." The band's third album, A Different Kind of Tension, was released the following year, but the band broke up two years later, in 1981, due in part to difficulties with both their record company and publishing company.

Shelley then pursued his solo career, which was already underway. In fact his solo debut, Sky Yen, was released in 1980, but was actually recorded in 1974 when he was still at college. The title track off his 1981 solo album, Homosapien, was banned by the BBC for its references to gay sex (Shelley was bisexual). Buzzcocks reformed in 1989, releasing the new album Trade Test Transmissions in 1992. Around this time they opened for Nirvana on one of that band's final tours. Five more albums followed, the most recent being 2014's The Way. The lineup fluctuated over the years, with Shelley and Diggle remaining constants. Along with Sex Pistols and The Clash, Buzzcocks were one of the pillars of the early UK punk scene. The long-running British comedy panel game show devoted to music, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, took its name from the band (combined with a Sex Pistols album title, Never Mind the Bollocks).

Below are social media reactions from various fellow artists, as well as some music from Buzzcocks and Shelley.
















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