Pete Shelley, who established himself as one of rock 'n' roll's truly gifted songwriters with U.K. punk originators Buzzcocks, has died of a heart attack at the age of 63.
The band's management has confirmed that Manchester-born musician died in Estonia, where he was living.
Shelley was motivated to start a band after reading a review of the nascent Sex Pistols in the NME. Not long after forming, the Manchester-spawned Buzzcocks found themselves playing with the Pistols and the Clash at London's fabled 100 Club. The group would become major players in the initial punk revolution of 1976.
The band's first salvo on vinyl was the now-classic "Orgasm Addict", featuring such inarguably brilliant lines as "It's a labor of love fucking yourself to death." With England obviously not totally prepared at the time for a song about porking anything that moved—including one's hand—the single didn't exactly rocket onto the charts at the famously conservative BBC.
Still, in the months and years that followed, Shelley and the Buzzcocks became one of the genre's most reliable forces, as at home with brute-power ragers ("Harmony in My Head") and pioneering power-pop ("Ever Fallen in Love [With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve]”) as with punk pushed in artsy new directions ("Why Can't I Touch It?").
If you don't own the group's essential Singles Going Steady, you need to rectify that right now on iTunes. Or at Zulu. Without Buzzcocks, there arguably wouldn't have been a NOFX, Blink-182, or any other band that's ever stood under the umbrella of pop punk.
After leaving Buzzcocks for a solo career that produced the early synth-pop nugget "Homosapien", Shelley eventually returned to the band, which recorded and toured right up until the singer's death. Last year the band hit the road for a 40th-anniversary tour.
Condolences from fans and peers are currently flooding social media. Here are just some of them, from both legends Shelley played shows with and those who were influenced by his work later on.