On Thursday, the band confirmed "with great sadness" his death and called him "one of the U.K.'s most influential and prolific songwriters." The Buzzcocks announced in a tweet on its website. It did not elaborate on the details of Shelley's death but said that more information would be released later.
The Buzzcocks were part of the punk revolution which began in England in the mid-1970s and also featured such groups as the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Like their contemporaries, the Buzzcocks scorned what they considered the pretensions and bloated style of mainstream groups and turned out brief, stripped down songs, performed at manic speed.
Their singles included "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)," the explicit "Orgasm Addict" and "What Do I Get?" Their energy and intensity were worthy of punk, but they also had a melodic streak, with the song "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" sounding at times like a punk version of the Beach Boys.
On Thursday, Mike Mills of R.E.M. tweeted: "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."
Shelley, whose real name was Peter Campbell McNeish, was born in the English town of Leigh in 1955. He founded Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto after they met at what is now the University of Bolton. The band debuted in 1976 in Manchester, opening for the Sex Pistols. Devoto left in 1977 and Shelley took over as lead singer.
The Buzzcocks broke up in the early 1980s, but reunited in the late '80s and continued to perform and record over the past three decades.
Tributes poured in from around the music world.
Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan tweeted: "As a lifelong @Buzzcocks fan...I so appreciate the musical influence Pete. Condolences to your family...."
Peter Hook, the bassist and co-founder of Joy Division and New Order, tweeted: "Pete Shelley - a true gent! 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."
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