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Pete Shelley


17 April 1955 – 6 December 2018

The death of Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley from a suspected heart attack at the age of 63 brought an outpouring of grief and affection. It reflected the importance of a man whose musical career encompassed booking the Sex Pistols to play in Manchester in 1976, gigs crucial to punk’s spread and the city’s musical renaissance; releasing an EP, Spiral Scratch, That helped invent the idea of DIY indie; and most of all his penning of a series of lovelorn guitarbuzz singles, including Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).

Many of the stories shared revealed just how much fun he was – as when a musician friend told me about lending Shelley his band’s gear for an impromptu performance at a benefit gig. Suffice to say, he hadn’t expected Shelley to play naked.

Other tributes focused on a man who took songs, inevitably addressed to ‘you’ rather than a specific gender, of sexual ambiguity and queerness into the 1970s mainstream – a quintessentially punk thing to do by one of the people whose work defined punk.

In their early career, Buzzcocks burnt brightly and then split, but left behind a series of albums and singles That have had an enduring influence. It was because of these records being re-released That Long Live Vinyl called Pete Shelley at home in Estonia on Friday 23 November to discuss the years from 1977-81. At Pete’s end, I could hear his dogs barking. With a print deadline looming, I wrote the feature based on both the interview with Pete and a conversation with his longtime musical collaborator, Steve Diggle.

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