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Howard Devoto (born Howard Trafford in Manchester, England 1955) is a British rock and roll singer/songwriter who began his career as the frontman for the punk band Buzzcocks, and who then formed several other groups, notably Magazine.
Inspired by the Sex Pistols, DeVoto co-formed Buzzcocks with singer/guitarist Pete Shelley in 1976. He left Buzzcocks after only one record (the "Spiral Scratch" E.P.) and a small number of performances.
DeVoto afterwards formed the legendary, genre-defying Magazine in 1977. Their unique style was not easily categorized and they were more often than not described rather simplistically as "post-punk" or "new wave". They went on to release several ground-breaking albums, which met with only moderate commercial success, as well as minor hits such as "Shot By Both Sides" and "A Song From Under the Floorboards". After Magazine split in 1981 Devoto spent two years putting together a solo album with former Magazine keyboard player Dave Formula. Though critical of Jerky Versions of the Dream were mixed, the single "Rainy Season" was consistently picked as a stand-out track.
A collaboration (three songs) with Bernard Szajner on the Brute Reason LP was released on Island Records in 1983. This was followed by a rendering of Big Star's "Holocaust" for the loose collective This Mortal Coil. The album It'll End in Tears contained contributions from many of the 4AD label's best artists, Devoto's presence being somewhat atypical.
For most of the 1990s, Devoto was little involved in music, earning his living by working for a photo archive.
Tributes, references and cover songsEdit
Devoto's influence on modern rock can be noted by the number of bands that continue to be influenced by his work. Momus recorded the tribute song "The Most Important Man Alive" for the Bungalow Records compilation Suite 98 in 1988. Devoto has collaborated with the Chester band Mansun, appearing on their EP Being A Girl (Part One), and writing a song for the band's eariler EP Closed For Business. Both Ministry and Peter Murphy have covered Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me", whilst Morrissey (a friend of Devoto's) has covered Magazine's "A Song From Under The Floorboards" though the highly idiosyncratic nature of Devoto's writing and singing have scared off many would-be imitators.
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