When Pete Shelley, frontman and guitarist of legendary punk band Buzzcocks died on Thursday of a suspected heart attack, tributes and stories poured out from all corners of the music industry.
Amongst those paying tribute was writer and University of Westminster alumni Jon Ronson, author of books such as The Psychopath Test and Men Who Stare at Goats.
Ronson tweeted: “RIP Pete Shelley! When I was 19 we occupied our college building on Regent Street in London for some reason I forget and someone told Pete Shelley and he turned up in the middle of his night with his guitar and did an impromptu solo show for us.”
RIP Pete Shelley! When I was 19 we occupied our college building on Regent Street in London for some reason I forget and someone told Pete Shelley and he turned up in the middle of his night with his guitar and did an impromptu solo show for us.
— jon ronson (@jonronson) December 6, 2018
The University of Westminster Archive responded to Ronson’s tweet saying: “any other @UoW_alumni remember this?”
— University Of Westminster Archive (@UniWestArc) December 6, 2018
A few days later, on Saturday, Ronson posted a screenshot from alumni Trevor Miller’s Facebook profile stating: “In 1985 we occupied the main building of The Polytechnic of Central London – 309 Regent Street, London, W1. As a sympathizer with “Student Radicals” like us, Pete Shelley played a free solo show in the main hill, with just a guitar and amp.”
Ah ha! pic.twitter.com/w2oq6mtIXy
— jon ronson (@jonronson) December 8, 2018
WestminsterWorld reached out to the University’s archive for additional information and are awaiting response.
The band themselves tweeted “It’s with great sadness that we confirm the death of Pete Shelley, one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters and co-founder of the seminal original punk band Buzzcocks.”
It’s with great sadness that we confirm the death of Pete Shelley, one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters and co-founder of the seminal original punk band Buzzcocks.
— Buzzcocks (@Buzzcocks) December 6, 2018
Shelley and Buzzcocks were responsible for introducing a greater emphasis on melody into punk music as it gained popularity in the mid 1970s. The band are often described as the inventors of pop punk, a genre that gained notoriety in the 1990s through bands like Green Day and The Offspring.
The late frontman also booked the Sex Pistols’ now legendary show at the Manchester Lesser Trade Free Hall in 1976. The show famously acted as inspiration for Morrissey of The Smiths, Peter Hook and Bernard Summer of Joy Divison and New Order, and Mark E Smith of The Fall, all of whom were in attendance.
Summer described Shelley’s death as “a sad day but a brilliant and unforgettable life” in a blog post, saying that the Buzzcocks singer “both helped and inspired in the early days of Joy Division.”
Buzzcocks formed in Bolton in 1976 and released their debut album Another Music in a Different Kitchen. Their biggest song “Ever Fallen in Love With (Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” was released on the album Love Bites, also in 1978.
Other notable people paying tribute to Shelley included Edgar Wright, director ofBaby Driver and Shaun of the Dead, the latter including a cover of Buzzcocks’ song “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”.
This compilation of Buzzcocks singles is one of my favourite albums. It’s 48 minutes of pure punk bliss. You couldn’t ask for a finer run of 45’s. Please give it a spin right now and remember the huge talent in music that was singer and writer Pete Shelley. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/nxkyxxJZ9s
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) December 7, 2018
Sex Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock also tweeted his condolences.
I am totally shocked and saddened to just hear of the untimely death of Pete Shelley.
A superb songwriter, artist and a totally sweet hearted guy who was one of the very few originals of punk and even a one off within that.
My deepest condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/vqYRtYyf1C
— Glen Matlock (@GlenMatlock) December 6, 2018
Buzzcocks are currently backing a campaign to get ‘Ever Fallen in Love’ back to Number One. The change.org petition currently has over 2000 signatures.