Today RPM would like to remember Peter Campbell McNeish born on 17 April 1955 but sadly passed away on this day twelve months ago of a suspected heart attack. Can’t place the name? worry not because you will remember him as Pete Shelly one of the singer-songwriters from Buzzcocks and writer of classic punk tunes such as ‘Ever Fallen In Love (with Someone You Shouldn’t ‘ve?).
Shelley formed Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto after they met at the Bolton Institute of Technology in 1975 and after the pair travelled to High Wycombe, to see the Sex Pistols. The band included bassist Steve Diggle and drummer John Maher; They went on to make their debut supporting the Sex Pistols in their home town of Manchester. After the band went onto an indefinate hiatus it was touring or being asked to open for Nirvana around North America that sparked a renewed interest in the band and they never looked back.
McNeish changed his name to Shelley after his favourite romantic poet which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the style of songs and the lyrics Pete wrote throughout his career. From the debut classic ‘Spiral Scratch’ right through his solo years and up until his untimely passing as a member of the reformed Buzzcocks sadly he missed his bands playing at The Royal Albert Hall Pete Shelley is sadly missed and has left a giant hole in the hearts of many fans around the globe.
The first three albums are regarded as the classic years where Shelly was thrust into the frontman role ably assisted by Diggle but it was Shelly’s melodies on hits like ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ and ‘What Do I Get?’ the band hit something of a wall in 81 after the release of ‘Singles Going Steady’ and a dispute with their then label. He went on to have a decent solo career until he and Diggle reformed the band in 89 with the release of ‘Trade Test Transmission’. there were several new albums from Buzzcocks including ‘The Way’ and ‘Flat Pack Philosophy’. His death was broken to the public through his brother Gary via Facebook.
Shelley had moved to Tallinn in Estonia, in 2012 with his second wife, Greta, an Estonian, he sited the less hectic pace there to that he had spent the last thirty years in London. He died in Estonia of a suspected heart attack on the morning of 6 December 2018. His passing rightly made the national news as he had so much left to give and Buzzcocks were still very capable of delivering devastating live performances with so many hits they tried to pack into their live show they never disappointed. The band were heralded by the likes of John Peel who was synonymous with playing their singles before they were released and helping turn the public onto Shelley penned classics.
Shelley left behind a quite remarkable catalogue of records spanning several decades five solo albums, fourteen singles as for Buzzcocks; there were nine studio albums, five live albums, no less than thirteen compilation albums, ten EP’s and twenty-four singles. It’s hard to believe looking back that the band never achieved a top ten single in the UK when you consider some of their most memorable releases.