Buzzcocks are an English rock band formed in Bolton in 1976, led by singer–songwriter–guitarist Pete Shelley.They are regarded as an important influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, power pop, pop punk and indie rock. They achieved commercial success with singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. These singles were collected on Singles Going Steady, described by critic Ned Raggett as a "punk masterpiece". The widely covered "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" remains one of their best-known songs.
The name "Buzzcocks" was chosen by Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley after reading the headline "it's the buzz, cocks!" in a review of the TV series Rock Follies in Time Out magazine. The "buzz" is the excitement of playing on stage; "cock" is Manchester slang meaning "youngster". They thought it captured the excitement of the Sex Pistols and nascent punk scene.
Howard Trafford, a student at Bolton Institute of Technology (now the University of Bolton), placed a notice in the college looking for musicians sharing a liking for The Velvet Underground's song "Sister Ray". Peter McNeish, a fellow student at the Institute, responded to the notice. Trafford played electronic music and McNeish had played rock.
McNeish assumed the stage name Pete Shelley, and Trafford named himself Howard Devoto, after a bus driver in Cambridge. In late 1975, Shelley and Devoto recruited a drummer and formed an embryonic version of Buzzcocks that did not perform in front of an audience and which dissolved after a number of rehearsals. The band formed as the Buzzcocks in February 1976 and performed live for the first time on April 1st 1976 at their college. Garth Davies played bass guitar and Mick Singleton played drums. Singleton also played in local band Black Cat Bone. After reading an NME review of the Sex Pistols' first performance, Shelley and Devoto travelled to London together to see the Sex Pistols in February 1976. Shelley and Devoto were impressed by what they saw and arranged for the Sex Pistols to come and perform at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, in June 1976. Buzzcocks intended to play at this concert, but the other musicians dropped out, and Shelley and Devoto were unable to recruit other musicians in time for the gig. Once they had recruited bass guitarist Steve Diggle and drummer John Maher, they made their debut opening for the Sex Pistols' second Manchester concert in July 1976. A brief clip of Devoto-era Buzzcocks performing The Troggs "I Can't Control Myself" appears in the Punk: Attitude documentary directed by Don Letts. In September 1976 the band travelled to London to perform at the two-day 100 Club Punk Festival, organized by Malcolm McLaren. Other performers included: the Sex Pistols, Subway Sect, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Clash, The Vibrators, The Damned and the French band Stinky Toys.
Early line-up of Buzzcocks. From left to right: John Maher, Steve Diggle, Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley
By the end of the year, Buzzcocks had recorded and released a four-track EP, Spiral Scratch on their own New Hormones label, making them one of the first punk groups to establish an independent record label trailing only The Saints's "(I'm) Stranded". Produced by Martin Hannett, the music was roughly recorded, insistently repetitive, and energetic. "Boredom" announced punk's rebellion against the status quo while templating a strident musical minimalism (the guitar solo consisting of two repeated notes). The demos recorded while Devoto was in the band were later issued officially as Time's Up. Long available as a bootleg, this album includes the alternative takes of all the tracks from the Spiral Scratch EP as well as early version of tracks that later appeared on the official debut Another Music in a Different Kitchen.
After a few months, Devoto left the group; he returned to college for a year, then formed Magazine. Pete Shelley continued as vocalist; his high-pitched, melodic singing stood in stark contrast to the gruff pub rock vocal stylings of many punk contemporaries. Diggle switched from bass to guitar, and Garth Davies rejoined on bass as Garth Smith or Garth. Garth appeared on the band’s first Radio 1 Peel Session, in September 1977, but due to his alcoholism he was quickly replaced with Steve Garvey, joining Dirty Looks in New York. This new line-up signed with United Artists Records.
* Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978)
* Love Bites (1978)
* A Different Kind of Tension (1979)
* Trade Test Transmissions (1993)
* All Set (1996)
* Modern (1999)
* Buzzcocks (2003)
* Flat-Pack Philosophy (2006)