Pete Shelley: Stars’ tributes show Buzzcocks singer’s huge influence

Pete Shelley in 2006Image copyright PA
Image caption Shelley, pictured in 2006, died in the Baltic state of Estonia

Tributes have been paid to Pete Shelley, lead singer of punk band Buzzcocks, following his death aged 63.

“Playing shows with The Buzzcocks was one of the highlights of my life,” said Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament. “Thank you Pete for all the great words and music.”

Peter Hook, of Joy Division and New Order fame, said Shelley was “a true gent” who “helped us so much… out of a sheer love for all things punk”.

Duran Duran, Green Day and REM’s Mike Mills have also posted tributes.

Shelley, who was born Peter McNeish in 1955, died on Thursday in Estonia of a suspected heart attack.

Buzzcocks formed in Bolton in the 1970s and are best known for their hit, Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).

Writing on Instagram, Duran Duran remembered Shelley as “a brave iconoclast” and “a true legend” whose death had left them “very very sad”.

Shelley, they said, “wrote songs that could rage and yet be joyful, that could be positive and cynical, all in a two minute blast of energy that was built to blow your face off”.

“The Buzzcocks were and are a favourite of mine, and I was fortunate to be able to hang with Pete a few times and tell him so,” wrote Mills on Twitter.

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong echoed those sentiments, saying Shelley had been “an inspiration” to him and his bandmates and that they had covered Ever Fallen in Love “the best we could”.

Fine Young Cannibals, Pete Yorn and France’s Nouvelle Vague are among many other bands to have released cover versions of Buzzcocks’ 1978 hit.

“Pete was one of Britain’s best pure pop writers, up there with Ray Davies,” wrote Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp, who said seeing Buzzcocks in 1976 had “helped to change my life”.

Mike Joyce, former drummer with The Smiths, who played with Buzzcocks for a spell, also cited Shelley and his band as a formative influence.

“Very difficult to put into words just how influential Pete & Buzzcocks have been,” he wrote on Twitter.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shelley (centre) performing with Garth Smith (left) and Steve Diggle in 1977

Shelley’s death has also generated tributes from beyond the world of music.

Film director Edgar Wright said he was a “huge talent“, while broadcaster Danny Baker said he was “a great man” who had created “a brilliant noise”.

“Someone in the office just said ‘Weren’t The Buzzcocks just a one-hit wonder?’ and there’s nearly been a fight,” wrote the BBC’s Jeremy Vine.

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More tributes paid to Buzzcock Shelley

Tributes have been paid to Pete Shelley, lead singer of punk band The Buzzcocks, following his death aged 63. “Playing shows with The Buzzcocks was one of the highlights of my life,” said Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament. “Thank you Pete for all the great words and music.”

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