Pete Shelley, the lead singer of punk legends the Buzzcocks, has died at the age of 63. The cause of death has been given as a heart attack, reports BBC. The network’s report says that Shelley passed away on December 6 in Estonia, where he had been living. In a statement, the band said, “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.”
Shelley was born in Leigh, a suburb to the west of Manchester in the north west of England, in 1955. His birth name was Peter Campbell McNeish. In 1975, he met Howard Devoto while studying at the Boston Institute of Technology. The two would later go on to form the Buzzcocks. The band had their first gig opening for the Sex Pistols in Manchester at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976. According to legend, Shelley and Devoto invited the Pistols to Manchester, having seen them in London. That gig set the premise for the movie 24 Hour Party People, which told the story of the Manchester music scene in the 1980s and 90s. The Buzzcocks’ music was featured in the movie. Coincidentally, on the day of Shelley’s death, Paul Stanley wrote an article for the New Statesman on the impact of the Sex Pistols show.
The band’s first EP, Spiral Scratch, was released in 1977 on their own label. Shelley also recorded solo material that was released in 1980 his Groovy Records label. The Charlatans’ lead singer Tim Burgess paid tribute to Shelley saying, “Farewell Pete Shelley.
The first album I ever owned was Love Bites By Buzzcocks.”
Fellow punk legends, the Stiff Little Fingers, also paid tribute to Shelley on Twitter saying, “”And I hate modern music
Disco boogie and pop, They go on an’ on an’ on an’ on an’ on…” Sadly, now they have stopped. All of us are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of a true original and phenomenal songwriter. R.I.P. Pete Shelley.”
Shelley relocated from London to Estonia as his wife, Greta, is from the northern European country. Shelley told Stuff in April 2013 that his wife was Estonian but grew up in Canada. Shelley is quoted in the interview as saying, “A couple of years ago we got married and we only had a small flat in London which was getting a bit crowded. We came over [to Tallinn] visiting relatives and it was such a beautiful place. It’s a world heritage site and it’s nice and quiet. In the place I was in London at three in the morning it would be a siren corridor. This is a lot more tranquil and it’s only a three-hour flight to the UK, so we’re not cut off.”