Buzzcocks made a cultural impact few can match. They supported the Sex Pistols at their infamous 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gig, were one of the first groups to form their own record label and turned out classics like Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve), What Do I Get? and Promises. Now they’re back on tour and visiting Manchester in October.
Back in the 1970s, Howard Trafford, a student at what is now the University of Bolton advertised for musicians who shared his enthusiasm for the Velvet Underground song Sister Ray. Fellow student Peter McNeish responded and a creative force was born. McNeish became Pete Shelley and Trafford became Devoto – apparently inspired by a Cambridge bus driver. They adopted the name Buzzcocks after reading the line ‘It’s the Buzz, Cock!’ in a Time Out magazine review of the TV show Rock Follies.
Shelley and Devoto were so impressed by the Sex Pistols after seeing them in London in February 1976 that they invited them to perform in Manchester. This paved the way for what is regarded as one of the most influential gigs of all time – The Sex Pistols at The Lesser Free Trade Hall on June 4th 1976 which brought together a small crowd which is nevertheless said to have included a number of people who would go on to make an impact on the Manchester music scene.
The band made their debut when they supported the Sex Pistols at their second Free Trade Hall gig on 20 July.
The band were then invited to perform at the historic 100 Club Punk Festival in London, joining other artists including The Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees. It was still 1976, and by the end of the year, Buzzcocks had released their influential EP Spiral Scratch and established their New Hormones label.
Although Devoto had left by 1977, going onto form the group Magazine, as one door closed another opened. Steve Garvey joined and the group signed with United Artists Records on the 16 August 1977 at Manchester’s iconic Electric Circus – the day Elvis Presley died.
Their old energy and taste for controversy was clear when the single Orgasm Addict was banned by the BBC! This was swiftly followed by What Do I Get?, the band’s first entry into the UK top 40 singles chart and the first of a string of chart hits. Over the next three years, Buzzcocks released the albums: Another Music in a Different Kitchen, Love Bites and A Different Kind of Tension, as well as the hugely popular Singles Going Steady compilation.
Buzzcocks have had a few breaks along the way but 1989 saw the reconvened Shelley/Diggle/Garvey/Maher line-up back again by popular demand. They have impressed with yet another series of studio albums and are now coming back to the city where it all started.
Buzzcocks play Albert Hall Manchester on Friday 7th October.
Buy tickets here: alberthall.seetickets.com