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Pete Shelley (1955 – 2018), Buzzcocks singer-songwriter

by Kirk Fox

The legendary punk band influenced many musicians

Pete Shelley (1955 – 2018) was the lead singer of the highly influential punk band the Buzzcocks. He died from a heart attack at the age of 63 at his home in Estonia.

Shelley was one of the co-founders of the Buzzcocks, called the pioneers of pop punk. The band was inspired by the Sex Pistols and formed in Manchester in 1975. Shelley had a knack for writing strong pop hooks to go along with the intense energy of the band’s songs.


Though the band never achieved superstardom, they greatly influenced many musicians. Green Day used the pop punk blueprint from their heroes the Buzzcocks to become one of the world’s biggest rock bands.

Nirvana, Husker Du, and many other critically acclaimed bands were big fans.

The Buzzcock’s biggest hit song was “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve),” which hit number 12 in the UK in 1978. Shelley wrote the classic song about unrequited teenage love.

The band broke up in 1981 and reformed in 1989, continuing to tour and release albums.

Shelley released several solo albums and had a minor hit song in 1981 with his first single, “Homosapien.”

We invite you to share condolences for Pete Shelley in our Guest Book.

Died: Thursday, December 6, 2018 (Who else died on December 6?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 63.

Is there someone you miss whose memory should be honored? Here are some ways.

Notable Quote: “There are plenty of musicians that I enjoy watching that are entertainers. But I wouldn’t want to be that, because the thing with an entertainer is that there is always that dishonesty, which is what punk tried to get rid of.

“It was like, you’re not pretending to be something you are not. You are just what you are. Punk is an art of action. It’s about deciding to do something and then going out and doing it.” – In a 2006 interview with the Guardian

What people said about him: “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 & the Buzzcocks I would probably still be working at the Docks. RIP mate.” – Peter Hook, former bassist for New Order and Joy Division

“I am very sad to hear about Pete Shelley’s passing. He was part of the soundtrack of my youth. Cindy and I were lucky enough to see Buzzcocks in Los Angeles a while back. It was excellent, the fire and beauty of those songs was still there. RIP a true poet of punk.” – Lol Tolhurst, founding member of the Cure

“Pete Shelley RIP. Playing shows with Buzzcocks was one of the highlights of my life. I listened to Singles and tension as much as any records I’ve owned. “Thank you, Pete, for all the great words and music. Condolences to Steve and the boys. Hollow inside.” – Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

Related lives:

Musicians Memorial Site

The Making of Kurt Cobain

Grant Hart (1961 – 2017) – co-founder of Husker Du

Joe Strummer, Punk Iconoclast

Sid Vicious, Punk Music Icon




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