Pete Shel­ley, leader of the punk-rock Buz­zcocks, 63

Woonsocket Call - - OBITUARIES/REGION -

LON­DON (AP) — Pete Shel­ley, who su­per­charged pop melodies with punk en­ergy as the leader of the Bri­tish band Buz­zcocks, died on Thurs­day at his home in Talinn, Es­to­nia. He was 63.

His la­bel, Domino Records, said the cause was a heart at­tack. Mr. Shel­ley had moved to Es­to­nia, the home coun­try of his wife, Greta, an artist, in 2012.

Mr. Shel­ley’s break­neck gui­tar strum­ming pro­pelled songs that of­ten pro­claimed lovelorn vul­ner­a­bil­ity along­side acute self-con­scious­ness. “I’m in dis­tress, I need a ca­ress,” he sang on one of the first Buz­zcocks sin­gles, “What Do I Get?”

Buz­zcocks, formed in 1976, were in Lon­don’s punk-rock van­guard. For its ini­tial EP, “Spi­ral Scratch” (1977), the band was led by its founders and song­writ­ers, Mr. Shel­ley and Howard Devoto, of­ten with Mr. Devoto as lead singer. But Mr. Devoto left be­fore “Spi­ral Scratch” was re­leased, and Mr. Shel­ley took over lead vo­cals and most of the song­writ­ing, trad­ing the band’s early sneers for songs about ro­mance – of­ten ro­mance gone wrong.

“Sin­gles Go­ing Steady,” the 1979 com­pi­la­tion that was the first Amer­i­can Buz­zcocks al­bum (it con­sisted of ma­te­rial that had al­ready been re­leased in Bri­tain), is a quin­tes­sen­tial punk col­lec­tion: fast, terse and tune­ful, shield­ing a lusty yet ten­der heart be­hind a brash at­tack. Mr. Shel­ley de­lib­er­ately used gen­der-neu­tral pro­nouns, ad­dress­ing love songs to “you,” and he was mat­ter-of­fact about his bi­sex­u­al­ity.

As the first wave of punk crested in Bri­tain, Buz­zcocks had hits there with songs like “Ever Fallen in Love (With Some­one You Shouldn’t’ve)?” in 1978. They dis­banded in 1981 but re­grouped in 1989 and had been led by Mr. Shel­ley, with per­son­nel changes, ever since.

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