Photo by Andre Csillag

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.

 

Its no secret that we don’t always listen to Glam punk or Rock n Roll or straight up punk. Sometimes we love to indulge in a more challenging form of music. Besides, I find the whole scene of Black Metal absolutely fascinating so, on days like this, it’s only fair to tip the hat and show some respect for those who made the records and have since passed on.  As a mark of respect, we’d like to spread a little love for Tomas Forsberg better known as Quorthorn,  Multi-instrumentalist and frontrunner of the metal subgenre known as Black Metal. Frontman and songwriter of the blackest of black metal bands none other than –  Bathory.

Tomas founded Bathory when he was just 17.  But prior to that, he began his musical journey playing in an Oi! band, before turning to the darker side of Metal.

Bathory was, for the most part, a studio band releasing four albums and often cited as the fathers of Black Metal or at least Scandinavian Black Metal. (of course, Venom were the first we know that) Thomas Börje Forsberg was born on the 17th of February 1966 and sadly passed away at home on this very day in 2004 as a result of a congenital heart defect. In his short life, he managed to release 16 Bathory albums and three solo albums under the name Quorthon. He was known as ‘Ace’ early on after Ace Frehley from Kiss maybe he wasn’t so dark after all and only when he turned to the dark side did he change his name to something altogether eviler.

Managing to remain in the underground Bathroy were more in keeping with the origins of Black Metal and Venoms more NWOBHM than the breakneck blast beats and throat gargling abominations that followed from the bands that took the scene to the extremes.  Bathory will always be known as one of the forefathers and groundbreakers.  So RPM would like to say Rest In Peace Thomas and shine on you crazy diamond.

Also on this very day in 1993 the artist formerly known as Prince Rogers Nelson changed his name to Symbol! Now had he been a black metal artist he could have come up with some unreadable abomination for a symbol – lucky for us it was like a squiggle with a circle and an anchor like line.  These pop stars eh?  Nutters one and all

 

Also on this very day, The Sex Pistols reached a level of notoriety when they played a live show on a boat travelling up the Thames as part of the Queen’s silver jubilee celebrations.

 

On this day in 1979 Simon John Ritchie otherwise known as Sid Vicious passed away On the evening of 1 February 1979, a small group of friends, including Jerry Only and Howie Pyro, gathered to celebrate Vicious having made bail at a friend’s Manhattan apartment.

Sid was clean, having been on a  methadone program during his time at Rikers Island, but at the dinner gathering,  photographer Peter Kodick, deliver him heroin. He had apparently spent hours during the party looking toward the future, planning an album he would record to get his life and career back on track should he be acquitted. Sid played Max’s along with a stellar line up including Mick Jones, Steve Dior, Matlock (who he replaced in the Pistols) Jerry Nolan to name a few who he played with or made plans to help him record this solo album he had planned. Sadly none of those pans would come to fruition as Sid overdosed at midnight, but everyone present worked together to get him up and walking around to revive him Sid died in the night and was discovered dead by his mother, Anne Beverley, early the next morning. Aged just 21.  still to this day its such a sad story to tell and a waste.  RIP Sid.

Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose in New York City. There had been a party to celebrate Vicious’ release on $50,000 (£29,412) bail pending his trial for the murder of his former girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, the previous October. Party guests, said that Vicious had taken heroin at midnight. An autopsy confirmed that Vicious died from an accumulation of fluid in the lungs that was consistent with heroin overdose. A syringe, spoon and heroin residue were discovered near the body.

The Specials were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘The Special A.K.A. Live E.P’. The lead track ‘Too Much Too Young’ was the shortest song to reach No.1 on the UK singles chart in the 1980s that also happened on this very day in 1980.

On this very day in 1978 Van Halen signed a record deal with Warner Brothers.  Seems as good a time as any to play this then…

 

Oh and it was on February 2nd 1949 that the first ever 45 RPM record was released.  How about that for a fact?

 

Bass legend and pioneer of the “This bass is gonna fuck my back up its so heavy club” Pete Overend Watts passed away on this day in 2017.  Pete was the bass player in Mott The Hoople and not afraid to don a pair of stack-heeled, thigh high boots and play a weird bluebird headstocked bass that more than likely weighed a tonne. He also made the Gibson Thunderbird his weapon of choice.

Watts was born in the Midlands in 1947 and joined Mott The Hoople at the start and played on ‘Mott The Hoople’ in 69 and everything until ‘The Hoople’ in 74.  he remained in the band when they went to being called Mott then subsequently British Lions for their two albums. As well as his playing career Pete also turned his hand to production and co-produced ‘Back To Mystery City’ for Hanoi Rocks

He died at the age of 69 from throat cancer.  Rest in peace Pete RPM loves Mott The Hoople and now seems a good time to pay tribute to Pete and his band with a classic video.

So as it’s not all sad news today is the birthday of Steven Adler formerly the guy responsible for Guns N Roses swing and groove when they were a top rock n roll band and not just another hard rock act.  Shame that anyway, Happy Birthday Steven. or should we say, Michael Coletti. Age 53. Keep on rockin fella.

Also born today – Michael Hutchence and Malcolm McLaren both sadly also passed. To celebrate Mr. Adlers birthday here’s a video from when Guns N Roses were half tidy.

People always remember Johnny Thunders but his band The Heartbreakers helped shape the sound of one of the greatest album released in the seventies and rightly so.  The Heartbreakers consisted of one Jerry Nolan on drums thunders pal from his time with the Dolls. Out of the four members of the band, only Walter Lure is still with us and with it being the 14th of #january the day Jerry passed away we wanted to celebrate his time with us by championing his work and remembering Jerry Nolan. A powerhouse of a drummer who was old school and didn’t go for being flash and played the song.  If there needed to be silence or no drums then that’s what you got.  He had style and managed to look fantastic behind his kit he was a real showman without being flash for the sake of being flash.RPM is gonna champion those forgotten men (and women) who got taken way to soon and what better place to start than in the engine room with the one and only Jerry Nolan, May 7, 1946 – January 14, 1992.

First up is former New York Doll and Heartbreakers drummer  Gerard “Jerry” Nolan.

Jerry passed away on this day in 1992.  Jerry was born in Brooklyn on 7th May 1946 which makes him just 45 when he passed away in Manhatten at St Vincent’s after suffering a stroke. 2018 saw Jerry get some much-deserved limelight with the release of his excellent biography ‘Stranded In The Jungle’ penned by Curt Weiss available here.

Outside of his work with Thunders be it in the Dolls or The Heartbreakers Jerry only managed one 7″ single ‘Take A Chance With Me’ and the posthumously released EP with the Profilers both bearing his name, there were a few other bits here and there as he recorded in Sweden with Pilsner and there was his stint with The Idols that managed one single – not a lot for someone so talented but what we do have is well worth tracking down for one of a few really influential drummers of his generation.  Jerry RPM salutes you and raises a glass in your honor as we remember.

Other notable things happened on this day – This was the day in 1978 when the Pistols played Winterland in San Francisco and the last time Sid would play with the band. They did, however, reform in 96 for a stack of cash.  another pistols fact for this day is they sued Malcolm and were awarded a cool One million pounds (seems like chicken feed these days).

It’s also the very day in ’77 that Bowie released ‘Low‘ and the birthday of David Eric Grohl

Born this day in 1969 Happy Birthday Mr Grohl.