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Encyclopedia > The Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks were a punk rock band, formed in Manchester, England in 1976. They were one of the key first generation punk bands in the mid to late 1970s.

Original members Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, and John Maher self-released a four-track EP, Spiral Scratch, thus heralding the independent label movement.

The music was roughly recorded, insistently repetitive, and energetic. Boredom announced punk's rebellion against the status quo while templating a strident minimalism (the guitar "solo" consisting of two repeated notes over and over).

Vocalist Devoto immediately left the band, already aware of the rapid co-opting of punk's attitude by the mainstream. He formed Magazine, a less easily apprehendable mix of energy, ennui, and atmosphere. Pete Shelley continued as vocalist, his high pitched melodious whine an antidote to the gruff pub-rock flavour of many contemporaries.

True to their name, the first Buzzcocks single, "Orgasm Addict", played with sexuality in a way few punk groups dared. Later, more ambiguous songs staked out a territory defined by Shelley's bisexuality and punk's aversion to sex except as bodily function. Their trademark sound was a marriage of catchy pop melodies with punk guitar energy, with an unusually tight and skilled rhythm section--an anomaly in punk.

Their original career consisted of three LPs - Another Music in a Different Kitchen, Love Bites, and A Different Kind of Tension - each an advancement in musical sophistication. By the end they were quoting W. S. Burroughs ("A Different Kind of Tension"), declaiming their catechism in a not-very-punk anthem ("I Believe") and tuning in to a fantasy radio station on which their songs could be heard ("Radio Nine").

But it was for their singles that they are primarily remembered, a string of would-be hits that demonstrated a strong grasp of the vernacular of pop song craftmanship. These were collected on Singles Going Steady, the CD version of which is a complete document of their 7" releases.

Soon after their third album they disbanded, only to reform in the 1990s to retread the same path. Their original unreleased demos were later issued officially as Time's Up. Long available as a bootleg, this album includes the Spiral Scratch EP.

Shelley and Devoto recently teamed up for the first time since 1976, producing the album Buzzkunst, a play on the German word for 'Art'. "After all those years of cocks, we thought kunst would make a change". A mix of electronics, punk, and mannered sub-Luxuria outings, the result is disappointing but nonetheless essential for fans.

Like many other groups whose name appears to be a plural noun (notably Eurythmics), Buzzcocks' name is frequently rendered incorrectly with a "The" in front it. The group's name is simply Buzzcocks.

Buzzcocks' name was portmanteaud with the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind The Bollocks to create Never Mind The Buzzcocks, a UK comedy panel game with questions on popular music, broadcast on the BBC first in 1996 and continuing as of 2004. This in turn may have influenced a Buzzcocks anthology CD called I Don't Mind The Buzzcocks, which opened with the track I Don't Mind. Such recycling and subversion of phrases seems entirely appropriate for Buzzcocks, though those choosing these names may not have been aware of this.


  • Spiral Scratch
  • Time's Up
  • Another Music in a Different Kitchen
  • Love Bites
  • Singles Going Steady, a collection
  • A Different Kind of Tension
  • Trade Test Transmissions
  • All Set
  • Modern
  • Buzzcocks (2004)
  • + numerous live albums and compilations

  Results from FactBites:
Buzzcocks (2840 words)
The Buzzcocks, one of the brighter pupils in the school of thought that made up England’s original punk explosion, are now part of the past, joining their comrades: the Adverts, the Vibrators, the Sex Pistols, Generation X, Wire, TRB, Penetration, and on and on.
The Buzzcocks were formed by Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley after Devoto saw one of the Sex Pistols first gigs in late 1975.
This was a real case of mixed emotions for me. The Buzzcocks were one of the six most important punk bands in the late seventies as far as I'm concerned (the others being the Pistols, the Jam, the Damned, the Clash, and the Ramones).
Buzzcocks - Music Downloads - Online (1187 words)
Bio: Formed in Manchester, England, in 1975, the Buzzcocks were one of the most influential bands to emerge in the initial wave of punk rock.
They succeeded in bringing the Pistols to Manchester, but the Buzzcocks had to pull out of their own gig when both the bassist and drummer left the group before the concert.
The Buzzcocks certainly tested the limits of that artistic control with their debut single, "Orgasm Addict." Released in October of 1977, the single didn't become a hit because its subject matter was too explicit for BBC radio, but it generated good word of mouth.
  More results at FactBites »



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