Pete Shelley





ONCE UPON A time there were the Buzzcocks and they were my favourite group. In the heyday of punk ,the Clash had the painted shirts and radical politics, the Pistols had beer cans and a self-destruct nihilism, the Damned had fun but the Buzzcocks had ridiculous accents and love songs. Pete Shelley's pen mined a rich vein of punk/pop brilliance.

Their music was a wailing wall of buzzsaw guitars while the pristine emotional lyrics found a man constantly stalking the twilight zone between certainty and doubt and articulating the confusion into classic combinations of verse and chorus.

The Buzzcocks went on Top Of The Pops and had hits. The cream has been duly collected for posterity on the 'Singles Going Steady' compilation of GREATS!

But time eroded the thrill. The polish became chipped and dulled. Their last two years proved frustrating and futile. The foursome were enmeshed in the trappings of their own talent, not that they ever played the STAR but as far as beat groups go they were reaching the waist spreading period of middle-age.

Locked into a regular touring (they placed my old home town every November, following Doctor Feelgood who appeared every October, a gruesome comparison) schedule and recording (an album a year) routine. The humdrum rock and roll way of growing old.

I felt more relieved than surprised when Peter Shelley handed in his notice last March and, as they used to say in pop circles, went solo.

"I left the Buzzcocks because I found a way of doing what I wanted which short circuited all the problems I'd had in the past. It was hard to get the ides that I had across. I'm not very good at communicating ideas, all the ones I have I tend to put into music."

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 


mick sinclair

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