- 07 Dec 18
Tim Burgess, Glen Matlock and Peter Hook are among those mourning the punk legend's death
The tragic news from Estonia last night, where he'd been living, is that Buzzcocks man Pete Shelley has died aged 63 from a suspected heart attack.
Formed in 1976 by Shelley and Howard Devoto, their self-financed Spiral Scratch EP was an instant John Peel hit and a clarion call for fellow Manchester mavericks like Ian Curtis, Mark E. Smith and Morrissey to get in the game.
After Devoto left in 1977, Shelley wrote what seemed like a never ending succession of perfect pop songs such as 'What Do I Get?', 'I Don't Mind', 'Just Lust', 'Promises', 'Noise Annoys' and the especially immortal 'Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Have)'.
Love, often unrequited and frequently lost, was Shelley's lyrical stock in trade.
They didn't have the bondage trousers or Situationist lexicon, but Buzzcocks were every bit as influential during the Great Punk War as the Clash and the Sex Pistols who they helped bring to the Manchester Free Trade Hall for a seminal gig.
"Pete Shelley - a true gent!" reflects fellow Mancunian Peter Hook. "He helped us so much at the start of our career out of a sheer love for all things punk. Without Pete and the Buzzcocks I would probably still be working at the Docks. RIP mate."
Adds Sex Pistol Glen Matlock: "I am totally shocked and saddened to just hear of the untimely death of Pete Shelley. A superb songwriter, artist and a totally sweet hearted guy who was one of the very few originals of punk and even a one off within that. My deepest condolences to his family and friends."
"What is it with December and losing your heroes?" asks our man Stuart Clark who's previously written Christmastime obituaries for Joe Strummer and Lemmy. "I'll never forget John Peel playing 'Breakdown' and sprinting up to Bonaparte Records in Bromley the next day to buy Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP. I listened to it obsessively for a month. Devoto left, Pete Shelley stayed and kept making magic.
"I finally got to meet and interview Pete in May 1993 when they played a brilliant show in Dublin as part of their Trade Test Transmissions tour. They were a little wider of girth and less of hair, but, god, those songs still fizzed and crackled. Despite being genuinely one of the voices of his generation, he was a modest, almost shy chap who was more interested in talking about the new songs than the ones that had forged his reputation."
Let us not forget that Pete Shelley and his bandmate Steve Diggle were also responsible for that wonderful Spinal Tap-ism, "No Moët, no showy, no Chandon, no band on", which ensured promoters had the champagne on ice in their dressing-room.
Poignantly, completing our A Quickie With... questionnaire in 2009, Peter answered: "The Irving Berlin one ‘Cheek To Cheek’ as sung by everyone from Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald. It starts off with the lines “Heaven, I’m in Heaven…'" to the "What song do you want played at your funeral?" question.
No doubt you're looking down on us from there now, Pete...
Pete Shelley wrote perfect three minute pop songs. The soundtrack to being a teenager. You’ll be missed Pete but you’ll be remembered for a long long time for your brilliant music https://t.co/bt03fGbcgd
— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) December 6, 2018
not been on here for a while, but I can't not mark the passing of Pete Shelley. I love(d) Buzzcocks. His songs were important to me when I was a young man and they still are to me now. Thank you Pete and R.I.P. You will be missed.
— Norman Blake (@normanblake) December 6, 2018
Oh God but I loved Buzzcocks. And Pete Shelley was an amazing songwriter. "But after all life's only death's recompense." RIP ♥️♥️ pic.twitter.com/vAAg7Jui52
— Tracey Thorn (@tracey_thorn) December 6, 2018