Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks (1955-2018)

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Oh no.

I got shoved into the mosh pit when the Buzzcocks played The Blue Note (Columbia MO), someone whacked me, my glasses flew off and were destroyed. Thanks a lot, Pete Shelley.

“What Do I Get?” remains my favorite Buzzcocks song.

A sad day indeed.


Henry Rollins on record collecting and the Buzzcocks:

People are a strange bunch. If you stare at them for a prolonged period, they sometimes get angry. If you look at them with a magnifying glass and start taking notes, they get offended. “What the hell are you doing?!” they bellow. They want answers. Don’t we all.

This is why I prefer records to members of our species. Don’t get me wrong; we are fantastic and without us, there would be no records. But I like records more, almost as much as the music they contain. Allow me to explain as I try to climb out of the anti-social pit I have just so earnestly dug and eagerly hopped into.

I’ll use The Buzzcocks out of Manchester, England, as an example. I think their recordings on the United Artists label are about as good as music gets. This includes their first three studio albums and a slew of singles that were released after the perfect four-track Spiral Scratch EP with which they debuted on their own New Hormones label. I can’t live with only one copy of each of these records.

This might be misconstrued as casually dating The Buzzcocks’ catalog. Nope, not nearly obsessive enough. I have a relationship with these songs so severe that, if it wasn’t mere vinyl and paper, I would be slapped with a restraining order that would chain me to a chair. I need a copy of every one of these records from every territory they were pressed in. And, whenever possible, a test pressing and (be still my beating heart) an acetate of each one, as well.

Take the band’s excellent two-song single “What Do I Get”/“Oh Shit,” released in early 1978. Shouldn’t the sheer greatness of the two songs, rendered on a single copy, be enough?

Not for me. I have pressings from Germany, France, Portugal, Holland, Belgium and England. The Belgian is one of the rarest — only a few hundred pressed — and the Dutch one of the more interesting, because they mistitled the A-side on the cover as “What Did I Get.”

United Artists saved its best moves for the U.K. version, which includes solid center and push-out center, one-sided and two-sided white label test pressings, and A-label promos both one- and two-sided, too. (Well played, UA, well played.)

These singles also have different writing and catalog numbers scratched into the matrix, or “dead wax,” by the label. Don’t worry, I have two magnifying glasses with which to read them.

Update: removed quotemark.


Oh man! The Buzzcocks are a desert-island band for me. Sad.


One of my all time favorite bands. A Different Kind Of Tension is the album I knew the best, but loved everything I heard from them.

Buzzcocks - You Say You Don’t Love Me

Now I have to go listen to the rest of them, well after the fact!


they were one of those bands that i always heard about, but sadly never got around to checking out very thoroughly. i knew “What Do I Get?” and that’s about it, i confess. what perfectly crafted punk-pop. what a loss. i have some catching up to do. RIP, Pete Shelley

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Interesting to see Howard Devoto (née Trafford) on the last track here…

I’ll be spinning A DIfferent Kind of Tension in the near future…

Oh shit. As Pete had put it. One of my all-time favorite bands, though I never got to see them back in the day. The quote in the OP “Pete Shelley wrote perfect three minute pop songs” is spot on, they were as carefully constructed as any Beatles song, just 3x as fast. I loved this generation of punk, and couldn’t make the transition to hardcore, it just wasn’t as “melodic”, at least to me.


My uncle gave a vinyl copy of Singles Going Steady to my brother and I in the early 80s. He didn’t much care for it, but my bro and I sure did! I think I was only 12 or 13 at the time. I proceeded to copy it to cassette for my Walkman and wore that thing out. Good times.

They play the Buzzcocks on the local radio station every so often and it never fails to get me in the best mood.

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We should also remember that Pete Shelley organised The Gig That Changed The World, where The Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols played to a tiny audience that contained Tony Wilson and Martin Hannet (Factory Records), Mark E Smith (The Fall), Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), Morrissey and the future members of Joy Division.


Crap. This Pete Shelley song comes to mind …

Homosapien - Pete Shelley


I used to rock the shit out of this in Dance Dance Revolution.


Just yesterday I learned that someone made a really weird parody of “Homosapien”:

Thanks for the great tunes, Pete Shelley.

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Another excuse to dig out Spiral Scratch


And is portrayed in the film “24 hour Party People”, which is worth seeing for many, many reasons (not least of which is that Howard Devoto has a cameo as a toilet cleaner in it)

RIP, Pete, your songs really were perfect pop


Life is short. Art is long.

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