Pete Shelley, co-founder, singer and guitarist of seminal punk band Buzzcocks has sadly passed away aged 63.
His death was confirmed by his bandmates yesterday evening (6 December), who posted on Twitter: ‘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.
‘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.’
As reported by the BBC, Shelley died in Estonia, where he was living, of a suspected heart attack.
Buzzcocks formed in Manchester in 1976 and made their debut opening for the Sex Pistols’ in July of that year. Two years later, they released their most famous hit, Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), written by Shelley. The track shot to number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and became one of the era’s defining songs, mixing pop sensibilities with the urgency of punk.
Speaking about its enduring appeal, Shelley told M in 2012: ‘The song has taken a life of its own and it always is a significant part of my PRS statements, so it remains a favourite of mine.’
The group disbanded in 1981 after more than a dozen singles and three full-length albums but soon reformed in 1989. They released their ninth studio album, The Way, in 2014, and were set to perform at Belle and Sebastian’s Boaty Weekender festival in the Med next summer.
Paying tribute, Peter Hook of New Order – and formerly Joy Division, whose first gig was opening for the Buzzcocks – tweeted: ‘Pete Shelley – a true gent! 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. X’
Teenage Fanclub frontman Norman Blake wrote: ‘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.’
Other artists to pay tribute included Tim Burgess of the Charlatans, who said of Shelley’s songwriting: ‘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.’
Above: Buzzcocks in 2016, with Pete pictured second from right