The punks who changed Scot­tish pop mu­sic for­ever

The death at 63 of the Buz­zcocks front­man led mu­sic fig­ures to re­call the in­flu­ence he had on them over the years and the im­por­tance of a gig in Glas­gow 40 years ago

Daily Record - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOHN DING­WALL re­[email protected]­

IT IS a gig that has gone down in the an­nals of Scot­tish mu­sic his­tory. Pete Shel­ley’s punk icons the Buz­zcocks per­formed at the Glas­gow Apollo, sup­ported by Vic Go­dard’s Sub­way Sect. The date was Oc­to­ber 21, 1978, and the concert went on to in­spire a gen­er­a­tion of Glas­gow bands as well as oth­ers in Scot­land to pick up gui­tars and write in­tel­li­gent pop songs with a punk at­ti­tude. That concert and Shel­ley’s song­writ­ing in­flu­enced bands in­clud­ing Orange Juice and the Post­card Records la­bel that also launched East Kil­bride’s Aztec Cam­era and Josef K from Ed­in­burgh. Un­til then, Scot­land’s pop land­scape had been largely bar­ren, al­beit with a hand­ful of il­lus­tri­ous ex­cep­tions. It also gave Alan McGee a jolt that led him to form Cre­ation Records, the la­bel who gave us Oa­sis and Pri­mal Scream. Scot­land’s mu­sic scene yesterday came to­gether to pay trib­ute to the Buz­zcocks front­man, who died on Thurs­day at his home in Es­to­nia, aged 63. McGee, 58, told the Record: “Pete Shel­ley’s in­flu­ence on the Scot­tish mu­sic scene was mas­sive. “I saw the Buz­zcocks at that gig at The Apollo and he in­flu­enced the Scot­tish in­die bands, the Post­card bands and the Cre­ation bands, be­cause Shel­ley showed you didn’t need to be the tra­di­tional rock star like Jim Mor­ri­son.

“You could be this slightly ef­fem­i­nate guy like Pete Shel­ley, who was openly bi­sex­ual.”

Orange Juice were so en­am­oured by Shel­ley that front­man Ed­wyn Collins wrote the band’s sec­ond sin­gle, 1980’s Blue Boy, for him.

McGee said: “He had a big­ger in­flu­ence on Post­card than Cre­ation but I love Buz­zcocks. I was gut­ted when I heard that he had died.

“The main four bands at that time of that Glas­gow Apollo concert were The Sex Pis­tols, Clash, Jam, Buz­zcocks and, ar­guably, The Damned. But de­pend­ing on what day it was, the Buz­zcocks were ev­ery­body’s favourite punk band.

“Maybe The Sex Pis­tols and The Clash de­fined punk but for mu­si­cal­ity, maybe the Buz­zcocks were bet­ter than all of them.”

McGee be­lieves Shel­ley’s songs also in­spired fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of bands in­clud­ing Pri­mal Scream and Belle and Se­bas­tian.

“They were like the in­die-pop side of punk,” he said. “It wasn’t that sur­pris­ing that Orange Juice or Belle and Se­bas­tian hap­pened be­cause of the Buz­zcocks.

“They were a big in­flu­ence in all of these bands.”

Franz Fer­di­nand’s front­man Alex Kapra­nos also paid trib­ute to Shel­ley.

Kapra­nos, 46, said: “I loved Pete’s song­writ­ing so much. It was emo­tional, be­liev­able, witty and heartbreaking at the same time.

“I re­mem­ber pick­ing up a sec­ond-hand copy of What Do I Get as a teenager and it blew my mind.

“It was so short but con­tained so much. I played it again and again, couldn’t get enough.

“I then went out and hunted down all the sin­gles I could find and the al­bums An­other Mu­sic in a Dif­fer­ent Kitchen and Love Bites.”

He added: “I re­mem­ber the Buz­zcocks played the Garage at some point in the 90s.

“I was on the dole and to­tally broke, so I walked up to the ticket of­fice and with a brass neck said, ‘Hi, I’m Alex, I’m a close friend of Pete’s. He said I’m on his guest list’.

“The girl saw I wasn’t there but in­stead of the ex­pected grip of a bouncer pro­pelling me out the door, she said, ‘Oh, you’ve not been added yet. You’d bet­ter just go in.’ What an amaz­ing night.

“Pete was a huge in­spi­ra­tion. More than any­thing, he em­bod­ied the true punk ethos of in­clu­siv­ity, the idea that any­one can do this.

“When I was first start­ing out in bands, that was a great en­cour­age­ment. There was no snob­bish­ness or pre­ten­tious­ness.

“He wasn’t try­ing to show off how fast he could move his fin­gers on the fret­board. I wanted to write songs like that.

“My first band, The Blis­ters, used to cover Buz­zcocks and a di­rect line can be traced of his in­flu­ence to Franz. A song like Michael owes a huge debt to Pete Shel­ley. He leaves a fine legacy and will be missed.”

Teenage Fan­club’s Nor­man Blake, 53, is an­other in­flu­enced by Shel­ley’s song­writ­ing.

He said: “His songs were im­por­tant to me when I was a young man and they still are.”

McGee said: “I met Shel­ley about 1990. He was play­ing a gig in Lon­don and I asked if I could buy him a beer be­cause he changed my life.

“I mes­saged Bobby Gille­spie of Pri­mal Scream when I heard the news that Pete had died a cou­ple of hours be­fore it broke.

“Bobby loved the Buz­zcocks, An­drew Innes loved the Buz­zcocks, the Pri­mals loved the Buz­zcocks. We all loved them.

“When Pri­mal Scream were mak­ing the Mem­phis al­bum about 1993, the Buz­zcocks played the Viper Room in LA. They were our he­roes.

“We were out of our minds and the Buz­zcocks were play­ing all these great songs of theirs from the 70s. It was amaz­ing.

“Peo­ple will go back and say how good he is. I wish he’d got that re­spect the last 20 years.

“He is go­ing to get re­spect now and that is cool.”

BRIEFS EN­COUN­TERS Tick­ets from Buz­zcocks gigs at The Apollo in 1978 and 1979 DRIV­ING FORCE Shel­ley, third from left, with the Buz­zcocks in 1979


FANS Pri­mal Scream’s Bobby Gille­spie, above, and Ed­wyn Collins of Orange Juice, left

LEGACY Alex Kapra­nos

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