For over thirty years the Buzzcocks have been a figurehead of the English punk movement. In all these years the Buzzcocks never made concessions to freaks of fashion or dominant trends. Instead, they remained loyal to their own sound: beautiful songs drenched in punk energy, combining raw guitar riffs with intelligent lyrics.
Buzzcocks was formed in Manchester in the mid-seventies. Guitarist and vocalist Pete Shelley and vocalist Howard Devoto started their first musical project in 1975, inspired by electronic music, Brian Eno and American proto-punk groups like The Stooges. When Shelley and Devoto read an NME review of the first Sex Pistols live performance, the Buzzcocks as we now know them were born. In the spring of 1976 Shelley and Devoto organised two concerts of the Sex Pistols in Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. The second gig was supported by the Buzzcocks, by now complete with drummer John Maher and bass guitarist Steve Diggle.
Soon the Buzzcocks themselves became one of the most popular punk bands. In late 1976 they issued their debut EP ‘Spiral Scratch’ on their own label ‘New Hormones’. This was a milestone in the punk movement. The EP sounded raw, energetic, repetitive and minimalist and became a guideline for the punk sound. Establishing your own label to issue a record was later often repeated, at the summit of the do-it-yourself attitude of the punk era.
After these first eventful months Devoto left the band to form Magazine. Pete Shelley took over the vocals and Diggle switched from bass to guitar. With Steve Garvay as bass guitarist they signed with United Artists Records in 1977. The first single to be issued on this label was ‘Orgasm Addict’, a song which is still brash today, but caused a real stir in England of the 1970s. The BBC banning the single didn’t damage the sales figures whatsoever. The following albums ‘Another Music In A Different Kitchen’ and ‘Love Bites’ stormed the charts and the Buzzcocks toured all over Europe and America. They issued a third album ‘A Different Kind Of Tension’, before the group split up in 1981. Since 1989 the Buzzcocks have been reunited. The current line-up includes Shelley, Diggle, bass guitarist Chris Remington (who replaced long-standing band member Tony Barber in 2006) and drummer Danny Farrant. The Buzzcocks released their eighth studio album ‘Flat Pack Philosophy’ in 2006. In the 21st century the Buzzcocks are still relevant, not just as an innovative guitar band, but also as a continuing source of inspiration for the younger generation.
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