You know me, I’m acting dumb
You know the scene, very humdrum
Boredom boredom – boredom
If you didn’t know these lyrics came from original UK punk band The Buzzcocks, you’d think they were from the Seattle scene during the grunge era. Many grunge and punk bands from the 1990’s felt like The Buzzcocks were an influence and when the band’s frontman Pete Shelley passed away recently, it reminded us that grunge and alt. rock had punk and Pete Shelley as major motivators. Numerous tributes have come along since Shelley’s passing from members of Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, R.E.M. etc.
The Buzzcocks played tours with grunge bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana that shared their angst and aggression. They opened for Nirvana in 1994. You can see Kurt Cobain joking with The Buzzcocks backstage at a show in this video. Shelley is pouring champagne and then sits with Kurt. The band and Kurt talk about pissing in the shower, wordplay about sanitary and sanitarium, Tori Amos, touring. Kurt mentions Lollapalooza 1994, the one Nirvana never played, and names the headliners Smashing Pumpkins and Beastie Boys.
Krist Novoselic re-tweeting on Twitter:
Pete Shelley – the lead singer and co-founder of punk band @Buzzcocks – died December 6 at 63.
— Mike (@Ian__Curtis___) December 7, 2018
Kurt Cobain with Pete Shelley, Buzzcocks, 1994.
Pearl Jam on Twitter:
Pete Shelley RIP
Playing shows with the @Buzzcocks was one of the highlights of my life. I listened to Singles and Tension as much as any records I’ve owned. Thank you, Pete, for all the great words and music. Condolences to Steve and the boys.
— Pearl Jam (@PearlJam) December 7, 2018
With songs like “Boredom”, “Orgasm Addict”, “Ever Fallen in Love” and their compilation Singles Going Steady, The Buzzcocks cemented their place in punk rock history and also motivated a rock revolution later when grunge hit. Shelley’s voice had a sensitive, painful whine that hit the spot when singing lyrics like:
I only get sleepless nights, Alone here in my half-empty bed For you things seem to turn out right, I wish they’d only happen to me instead, What do I get, oh-oh, what do I get?
Billy Corgan on Instagram:
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Saddened to hear of the passing of Pete Shelley. Like many, I was a fan of the Buzzcocks, and Pete's one-of-a-kind voice. But what I want to share here is more personal. The Pumpkins opened for The Buzzcocks in our early days; once in Chicago and once in Paris. And what I will always hold dear to my heart is how supportive, gracious, and encouraging Pete and his band were. Especially in those Gish days when many didn't understand our approach or the sound we were after. It's that kind of encouragement that means so much to a young musician. And Pete gave it in spades. God speed to a true punk. -WPC
R.E.M.’s Mike Mills on Twitter:
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. R.I.P., Pete. #Buzzcocks
— Mike Mills (@m_millsey) December 6, 2018
Billie Joe Armstrong on Instagram:
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Rest In Peace Pete Shelley . You truly are an inspiration to me, mike and Tre. We covered Ever fallen in love the best we could. Singles going steady was a huge record for me. Buzzcocks pretty much invented a style that would influence multiple generations of lonesome hearts and weirdos. Never shy about writing beautiful melodies into loud fast punk. You are the harmony in my head – Billie Joe
Definitely a sad time for his family, rockers and rock fans everywhere.