Buzzcocks Frontman Pete Shelley Dead at 63

(Image credit: Tony Woolliscroft/WireImage)

Buzzcocks frontman and co-founder Pete Shelley has died at the age of 63. The band's management informed the BBC that Shelley passed away today, December 6, in Estonia, where he had been living. The suspected cause of death is a heart attack.

Born Peter Campbell McNeish in Lancashire, England, Shelley formed Buzzcocks in the mid 1970s with Howard Devoto, who was the band’s original frontman. Buzzcocks made their debut opening for the Sex Pistols in Manchester in July, 1976, and released their first recording, the four-track Spiral Scratch EP, in January, 1977. Devoto departed soon after, and Shelley assumed the frontman role. The band subsequently released three full-length albums before breaking up in 1981, after which Shelley began a solo career. Buzzcocks also reunited several times in the ensuing decades; their most recent album was 2014’s The Way.

Revered as a seminal influence on generations of punk and power-pop bands, Buzzcocks are best known for Shelley-penned early singles like “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)” and “What Do I Get?” as well as the Shelley/Devoto co-write “Orgasm Addict.” These and other tracks were collected on the celebrated 1979 compilation album, Singles Going Steady.

Earlier today a message was posted on the official Buzzcocks Twitter page, reading: “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.”

An subsequent post added: “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.”


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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.