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Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley, Bi Punk Rock Icon, Dies at 63

Pete Shelley
Pete Shelley

The queer singer often referenced his sexuality in his music, which eschewed gendered pronouns.

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Pete Shelley has died.

The bisexual English singer and songwriter, known best as the lead singer of the punk rock band Buzzcocks, passed away Thursday in Estonia, where he lived, at age 63, reports the BBC. The cause of death is suspected to be a heart attack.

Buzzcocks released a short statement on Twitter after confirming news of Shelley's death.

"Pete's music has inspired generations of musicians over a career that spanned five decades and with his band and as a solo artist, he was held in the highest regard by the music industry and by his fans around the world," the group stated.

Shelley cofounded Buzzcocks in 1976 with Howard Devoto in Bolton, England. The punk rock band grew to become one of the most influential in the genre, on par with the Sex Pistols. The band's songs included "Ever Fallen in Love," "Orgasm Addict," Harmony in My Head," "Fast Cars," and "Why Can't I Touch It."

Shelley included many veiled references to his sexuality in his songs throughout his five-decade career in music. "Ever Fallen in Love" was reportedly inspired by a man named Frank, whom Devoto lived with for seven years. Moreover, Shelley's first single as a solo artist, "Homosapien," was banned by the BBC for its "explicit reference to gay sex."

In an interview with Pitchfork, Shelley revealed that he often used gender-neutral pronouns in his lyrics "because the object of my attention could be either [gender]. I can always say this one is about you, even if I wrote it about someone else."

Many queer fans took to Twitter to praise the influence of the "bi icon" on their lives.

Revisit "Homosapien" below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.