Pete Shelley, the co-founder, guitarist and brilliant songwriter behind genre-shaping U.K. punk act Buzzcocks, as well as an accomplished solo artist in his own right, has died, the band announced Thursday via its social media accounts. He was 63.
The BBC reports that Shelley died of a suspected heart attack in Estonia, where he was living.
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.
— Buzzcocks (@Buzzcocks) December 6, 2018
Born Peter Campbell McNeish, Shelley co-founded the Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto after the two met in college, and the band debuted opening for the Sex Pistols in Manchester, England, in 1976. The following year, the Buzzcocks released their debut EP, Spiral Scratch, before Devoto left.
In the wake of Devoto’s departure, Shelley claimed the role of lead singer and songwriter, penning classic singles including “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” and “What Do I Get.” The band released three albums in its original run: Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites in 1978, and A Different Kind of Tension in 1979. Those were followed by peerless 1979 singles compilation Singles Going Steady — and the band’s split in 1981.
Shelley would go on to spend much of the ’80s as a solo artist, scoring a major hit with his synth-driven single “Homosapien,” and finding lesser chart success with “Telephone Operator.” He released several solo albums throughout the decade.
The Buzzcocks reformed — though without Devoto — in 1989, and released albums, and toured throughout the ’90s and 2000s. Shelley finally would reunite onstage with Devoto in Manchester in 2012, when the departed co-founder rejoined the Buzzcocks for the first time in 33 years. The band’s most recent album, The Way, was released in 2014.
Below, we’ve rounded up some reactions to Shelley’s death, and some of his best music.
Very difficult to put into words just how influential Pete & Buzzcocks have been, not only on my career (I started playing the drums after seeing Buzzcocks) but on my entire life ever since. Thanks Pete. x (Photo: Todd Fath) pic.twitter.com/6sqCAXNeU0
— Mike Joyce (@mikejoycedrums) December 6, 2018
RIP Pete Shelly. For a while there Buzzcocks were just PERFECT. We all loved them.
— Lloyd Cole (@Lloyd_Cole) December 6, 2018
Damn. Pete Shelley gone. The Buzzcocks were and are a favorite of mine, and I was fortunate to be able to hang with Pete a few times and tell him so. R.I.P., Pete. #Buzzcocks
— Mike Mills (@m_millsey) December 6, 2018
Pete Shelley wrote perfect three minute pop songs. The soundtrack to being a teenager. You’ll be missed Pete but you’ll be remembered for a long long time for your brilliant music https://t.co/bt03fGbcgd
— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) December 6, 2018
Deeply sad to hear this. RIP, Pete Shelley ~ 💔 https://t.co/gH1IJ5Mfdw
— Tanya Donelly (@TanyaDonelly) December 6, 2018
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. X
— Peter Hook (@peterhook) December 6, 2018
Rock In Peace Pete pic.twitter.com/mKPIC9wHEu
— chris stein (@chrissteinplays) December 6, 2018
Reality’s a dream RIP Pete Shelley #Buzzcocks
— Spider Stacy (@spiderstacy) December 6, 2018
Travel on well punk pioneer and ace songsmith Peter Shelley
— Mike Scott (@MickPuck) December 6, 2018
Shocked to hear of the passing of our good mate Pete Shelley who’s fabulous songs are amongst the catchiest in all of punk rock. We will miss you Pete – love from @damnedtwits, X pic.twitter.com/VJeq4Nh5JR
— Captain Sensible (@sensiblecaptain) December 6, 2018