Tonight, the sad news broke of the death of Pete Shelley, the talisman of Manchester punk legends, The Buzzcocks. He was 63 years old.
Pete Shelley, born Peter Campbell McNeish, first came to prominence with The Buzzcocks in 1976, when they supported the now infamous Sex Pistols show at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester.
He had formed The Buzzcocks the year before with Howard Devoto, and it wasn’t until Devoto had left the group that Shelley became the face of the band.
The Buzzcocks had major hits, penned by Shelley, such as Orgasm Addict, What Do I Get and the classic Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve). But they also got their records on the shelves independently on their own label, New Hormones, in 1977. Unheard of at that time, but the inspiration for indie labels such as Rough Trade and Mute. It was only when a dispute with Virgin Publishing over a greatest hits package happened, that the band came to a stop.
But Pete Shelley didn’t stop. A solo career soon followed, and it was the album called, Sky Yen, that set that particular career path off, even though the album had been recorded in 1974. And, of course, Shelley released it on his own label, Groovy Records, staying true to his independent roots. An electronic sound to his next single, Homosapien, it was a natural choice of Shelley, given that he was a fan of the electronic sounds. That single was banned by the BBC (who else), and that was a little reminder that the punk attitude hadn’t disappeared completely. A man without compromise.
More solo albums followed until the inevitable happened, and The Buzzcocks reunited in 1989. New material was released and the band remained as popular as ever. And Pete Shelley? He remained the cool, composed idol he was back in the day. And to me, and lots and lots of people out there, he will always remain a hero. The coolest hero on our estate.
Rest in paradise, Pete Shelley. The world just became a poorer place without you.
(Peter Campbell McNeish, 17th April, 1955 – Thursday 6th December, 2018)