RIP Pete Shelley, the frontman of iconic British punk band Buzzcocks. He died yesterday of a suspected heart attack at 63.
The BBC reported that Shelley died on Thursday, in Estonia where he resided.
The band announced their lead singer’s passing via Twitter on Thursday evening, describing him as “one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters and co-founder of the seminal original punk band Buzzcocks.”
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.
A more detailed statement will follow.
— Buzzcocks (@Buzzcocks) 6 December 2018
The band’s roots trace back to 1975, amidst the beginnings of the punk explosion. Shelley—born Peter Campbell McNeish—formed the band with Howard Devoto, who also attended the Bolton Institute of Technology. Only a year later, the schoolmates would open for the Sex Pistols as Buzzcocks.
When Devoto left to form Magazine, Shelley stepped up to the plate as lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter. With him at the helm, Buzzcocks became known for their rapid, punchy hits like “Orgasm Addict,” “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?” and “What do I Get.”
Between 1978 and 1979, the band released three successful albums that launched them to the top of the punk scene, alongside the Clash and the Sex Pistols. However, difficulties with their record company and Virgin Publishing brought the band to a screeching halt in 1981.
Shelley would then embark on a solo career, returning to his electronic music roots. While he made some waves with his debut single “Homosapiens,” he never truly struck gold. In the late ’80s, Shelley reformed Buzzcocks, and his tenure with the band would continue until his death. In that time, they released six more studio albums: Trade Test Transmissions, All Set, Modern, Buzzcocks, Flat-Pack Philosophy and The Way.
Listen to Buzzcocks’ seminal discography here: