The band's management confirmed Shelley's passing, BBC reports, telling the broadcaster he died of a heart attack on Thursday (December 6) in Estonia. He was 63.
Shelley formed Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto in 1976 after the two met in school a year prior. The band released their first EP, Spiral Scratch, in 1977 through their own independent label New Hormones. Devoto soon left the group, leaving Shelley to handle songwriting and vocal duties on top of his work as guitarist.
Buzzcocks then signed to United Artists in 1977, recording a trio of classic albums for the label: 1978's Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites, and 1979's A Different Kind of Tension. The full-lengths spawned a series of songs that made the U.K. Singles Chart, including "Orgasm Addict," "What Do I Get?" and "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)."
In 1980, Shelley released his debut solo effort Sky Yen, an experimental electronic record he had initially made in 1974. The following year, Buzzcocks began work on a fourth studio album, only to break up after recording demos for the effort.
Shelley continued his solo career that same year with the release of Homosapien, marking a departure from the punk stylings of Buzzcocks in favour of synthesizers and drum machines. The album's title track was banned by the BBC for "explicit reference to gay sex," though it enjoyed commercial success in Europe and North America.
Shelley's solo career then spawned 1983's XL1 and 1986's Heaven and the Sea before Buzzcocks reformed in 1989. That same year, he released a rerecorded version of "Homosapien" titled "Homosapien II." The band then released their fourth studio LP, Trade Test Transmissions, in 1993.
Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle remained the two original members of Buzzcocks since the band's 1989 reform. The band's most recent album was 2014's The Way.
As recently reported, the news of Shelley's passing comes as Buzzcocks' ready a new set of reissues. Re-releases of Another Music in a Different Kitchen and Love Bites will arrive on January 25 via Domino. These follow the Domino re-releases of Buzzcocks' debut EP Spiral Scratch and the Time's Up comp earlier this year.
Find reaction to Shelley' passing from listeners and industry counterparts below.
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
Pete's music has inspired generations of musicians over a career that spanned five decades and with his band and as a solo artist, he was held in the highest regard by the music industry and by his fans around the world.— Buzzcocks (@Buzzcocks) December 6, 2018
A more detailed statement will follow.
Just heard that @Buzzcocks Pete Shelley has passed. One of the best lines ever was they came to the office for their rider. Everyone said there is no riders but beer, water & monster. He said "no Moet, no showie'" We all laughed and I sent for 2 bottles, we still laugh about it.— KevinLyman (@KevinLyman) December 6, 2018
Pete Shelley - a true gent!— Peter Hook (@peterhook) December 6, 2018
He helped us so much at the start of our career out of a sheer love for all things punk. Without Pete & the Buzzcocks I would probably still be working at the Docks. RIP mate. X
Oh God but I loved Buzzcocks. And Pete Shelley was an amazing songwriter. "But after all life's only death's recompense." RIP ♥️♥️ pic.twitter.com/vAAg7Jui52— Tracey Thorn (@tracey_thorn) December 6, 2018
Saddened to hear of the passing of a true punk original Pete Shelley. RIP Pete pic.twitter.com/vpFRtMwU2F— The Stranglers Site (@StranglersSite) December 6, 2018
Pete Shelley wrote perfect three minute pop songs. The soundtrack to being a teenager. You'll be missed Pete but you'll be remembered for a long long time for your brilliant music https://t.co/bt03fGbcgd— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) December 6, 2018
Damn. Pete Shelley gone. The Buzzcocks were and are a favorite of mine, and I was fortunate to be able to hang with Pete a few times and tell him so. R.I.P., Pete. #Buzzcocks— Mike Mills (@m_millsey) December 6, 2018
"I'm the cruiser, you're the loser."— greg dulli (@MrGregDulli) December 6, 2018
Adieu, Pete Shelley. pic.twitter.com/RngvjfSlUx
"And I hate modern music— Stiff Little Fingers (@RigidDigits) December 6, 2018
Disco boogie and pop
They go on an' on an' on an' on an' on..."
Sadly, now they have stopped.
All of us are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of a true original and phenomenal songwriter.
R.I.P. Pete Shelley.
mark e smith and pete shelley in one year is so much— meredith graves (@gravesmeredith) December 6, 2018
goodnight pete shelley.— jay bentley (@jay_bentley) December 6, 2018
thanks for the memories...
Sad to hear of Pete Shelley's death. I met him when The Buzzcocks supported us in Newcastle back in 2007 (still amazed about that). He was very humble about being so influential.— Paul Smith (@paulsmithmusic) December 6, 2018