Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley dies at 63 - News - Soundblab

Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley dies at 63

by Simon Heavisides Rating: Release Date:
Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley dies at 63
Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley dies at 63

Last night Marc Riley opened his BBC 6 Music show with that blast of existential genius 'I Believe', from under-appreciated third Buzzcocks album, A Different Kind of Tension. Little did we know that within a few hours we'd be hearing the horrible news that Pete Shelley had died that day of a heart attack at the age of 63.

Buzzcocks' history has passed into legend. They were of course driven to get serious as a band after witnessing an early Sex Pistols gig. In turn, Shelley and the band went on to influence countless others, Bernard Sumner said today he'd have still been working in the docks if it hadn't been for them. No one really sounded like Pete Shelley though. He was smart, sarcastic, witty but always seemed to offer comfort through the process of grappling with life's emotional traumas. How could you not fall for songs so unafraid to make desperate statements like, 'I Don't Know What to do with My Life'? Just the title alone made me love it. Few bands gracing the charts said things like that but surely most of us were thinking it at some point, and if not why not?

For anyone coming to terms with their existence, future, sexuality and just about any romantic situation, there was a fitting Shelley mini-pop symphony. It was a rare breed who could encapsulate the knotted stomach torture of young love the way he did.

Buzzcocks burned bright and hit the charts, but were gone in the space between a modern band's second and third albums. Shelley continued via a solo career with plenty of highlights, including the knowingly brilliant (and banned by the BBC) Homosapien.

Then of course they returned, were rightly honoured by Kurt Cobain (supporting Nirvana on a European tour) and ended up existing far longer the second time around. Decent to very good records followed but it was hard not to go back to those three albums and the associated singles.

You'd think it would get easier to say goodbye to the voices many of us have grown up with, but it really doesn't. Time to play I Believe again.

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