Ah, bollocks – Pete Shelley is gone. An apparent heart attack at only 63 years old. If you were to compile a list of the absolute most influential punk bands from the genre’s late-’70s birthing period, 1) it’s a pretty select group and 2) it’d be slanted towards the UK side of the pond. The Clash are definitely on there, as are the one-record-and-done Sex Pistols. Buzzcocks belong there too, as through their founder Shelley they combined slam-dance bangers with a real songwriter’s sensibility that arguably predated melodic emo by decades. If it’s been awhile, find a little over an hour in your DAY-TIMER and relisten to their masterstroke compilation Singles Going Steady.
Shelley also set a template for generations of rockstars that followed him by having a successful solo career (“Homosapien” and “Telephone Operator” being among his well-known compositions) while Buzzcocks experienced a bit of a hiatus. They would ultimately reform under Shelley’s guidance and enjoy a near 30-year second run that included six additional studio albums in addition to concerts right up until August 25th of this year. The last-ever song Buzzcocks performed live was “Harmony In My Head”; Mr. Shelley’s family can take solace in the fact that HIS harmonies will remain in a lot of people’s consciousnesses for a very, very long time. #RIP