Pete Shelley (born Peter McNeish, April 17, 1955 in Leigh, Lancashire, England) is a British singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known as the leader of Buzzcocks, one of the first generation UK punk rock groups.



Buzzcocks were formed by Shelley and Howard Devoto shortly after the two met at an electronic music society at Bolton Institute of Technology (now the University of Bolton) and travelled together to London to see The Sex Pistols. They debuted in 1976 in Manchester, opening for the Sex Pistols.

After the 1977 release of their first EP, Spiral Scratch, on their own independent label "New Hormones", which included the classic punk song "Boredom", Devoto left the group. Shelley continued to front the band, creating such quintessential punk singles of the period as "Orgasm Addict", "What Do I Get?", and "Ever Fallen in Love?" along with three LPs, Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978), Love Bites (1978), and A Different Kind Of Tension (1979), until difficulties with their record company, and a dispute over the U.S. release of their greatest hits record, Singles Going Steady, brought Buzzcocks to a halt in 1981.

Solo careerEdit

Shelley's debut album Sky Yen was released in 1974. Rooted in electronic music, it has earned comparisons to krautrock.[1]

In 1981, Shelley released his first solo single, the song "Homosapien", which had originally been written for the next Buzzcocks LP. On this recording he returned to his original interests in electronic music and shifted emphasis from guitar to synthesizer. The song was banned by the BBC for "explicit reference to gay sex", which didn't stop it from becoming enormously popular in dance clubs in Europe and North America. At this time, Pete Shelley also talked about his bisexuality, which had been implicit in many of the Buzzcocks songs he had written but now came to attention due to "Homosapien" and the BBC ban.

The single was soon followed by an LP of the same name in 1982. It was during this time that Shelley began releasing many of his earlier electronic works, most of them soundtracks for films, on his own label, "Groovy". These include Sky Yen, recorded in 1974 for a film by Devoto and released on Groovy in 1980, and Hangahar, also a soundtrack, released in 1980. He released several singles as well, including "Telephone Operator" and, in 1986, Shelley followed up Homosapien with an LP of new songs called Heaven and the Sea. The next year he released another recording, this time the song "Do Anything" for the film Some Kind of Wonderful. Shelley released his second LP XL1 in 1983 on Genetic Records. It included a computer program for the ZX Spectrum which featured lyrics and graphics which displayed in time with the music. It was produced by Martin Rushent and Shelley.

Shelley has also played with various other musicians during his career, including a stint with the Invisible Girls, who backed John Cooper Clarke and also Pauline Murray of the punk band Penetration for her LP Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls and a band called Tiller Boys which included members of various punk bands, and Zip. He also reunited with Howard Devoto to make the LP Buzzkunst, released in 2002.

He co-wrote music for the 2006 film, Brothers of the Head.

Buzzcocks reformEdit

In 1989, Buzzcocks reunited, and released a new full length recording, Trade Test Transmissions in 1993. They continue to tour and record, their most recent release being the CD Flat-Pack Philosophy in 2006. They toured with bands such as The Adored, The Strays, Lola Ray, and Easy Image.

In 2005, Shelley re-recorded "Ever Fallen in Love" with an all-star group, including Roger Daltrey, David Gilmour, Peter Hook, Elton John, Robert Plant and several contemporary bands, as a tribute to John Peel. Proceeds went to Amnesty International. Shelley also performed the song live, with several of the aforesaid, at the 2005 UK Music Hall of Fame [1].

References in popular cultureEdit

"Pete Shelley" is also the title of a short story by Patrick Marber contained in Speaking With the Angel, a short story collection edited by Nick Hornby. In the story, the narrator loses his virginity while listening to a Buzzcocks song.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling performer Patrick Martin adapted Shelley's surname into his ring name in homage to the Buzzcock's frontman. In addition to adapting Pete Shelley's last name, Martin also adapted the first name of the protagonist in Stanley Kubrick's widely controversial movie "A Clockwork Orange" Alex DeLarge to create the ring name of Alex Shelley.


  1. Sky Yen from




  • "Homosapien" (1981)
  • "I Don't Know What It Is" (1981)
  • "Qu'est-Ce Que C'est Que" (1982)
  • "Telephone Operator" (1983) UK #66
  • "Millions Of People (No One Like You)" (1983) UK #94
  • "Never Again" (1984)
  • "Waiting For Love" (1986)
  • "On Your Own" (1986)
  • "I Surrender" (1986)
  • "Blue Eyes" (1986)
  • "Your Love" (1988)

Audio sampleEdit


External linksEdit

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