Artist News Obituaries

Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley dies

By | Published on Friday 7 December 2018


Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley has died, the band confirmed in a statement last night. He was 63.

“It’s with great sadness that we confirm the death of Pete Shelley, one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters and co-founder of the seminal original punk band Buzzcocks”, the statement reads. “Pete’s music has inspired generations of musicians over a career that spanned five decades and, with his band and as a solo artist, he was held in the highest regard by the music industry and by his fans around the world”.

The band’s management told the BBC that Shelley died from a heart attack in Estonia, where he was living.

Shelley and vocalist Howard Devoto formed the Buzzcocks in 1976 in Bolton after travelling to London to see the Sex Pistols perform. They convinced Pistols manager Malcolm Mclaren to book them as support act for an upcoming Manchester show, although the initial Buzzcocks line-up disbanded shortly before the day of that gig. However, they did manage to play a show weeks later, when the Pistols returned to the city.

Although inspired by the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks developed their own more pop and more polished sound and style within the confines of punk. They recorded their first EP, ‘Spiral Scratch’, at the end of the year. Released in January 1977, it was one of the first punk releases, and by putting it out on their own New Hormones label, they became the first punk band to self-release a record.

Devoto left the band shortly afterwards, later forming Magazine. Shelley replaced him as frontman and his vocal style fully cemented the band as being different from other punk acts of the time. The band went on to release their first two albums the following year, in 1978. The second spawned the band’s best-known song, ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)’.

The band split in 1981 while working on demoes for their fourth album. They reformed in 1989, with Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle the only constants through to the present day. They recorded six more albums, up to 2014’s ‘The Way’, and their enduring appeal saw them tour with Nirvana in 1994 and Pearl Jam in 2003.

The band were still actively playing live shows at the time of Shelley’s death, with dates booked into 2019. The surviving members have not yet indicated their future plans.