"Punk is an art of action. It's about deciding to do something and then going out and doing it."
Pete Shelley, in a 2006 interview with the Guardian. The Buzzcocks founder and frontman has died at the age of 63, and the tributes are already flooding in. The band's own tweet that broke the news described him as "one of the UK's most influential and prolific songwriters" - but really it could and should have also hailed him as one of the best.
As the tributes underline, Shelley's lyrics and way with a sharp, snappy, three-minute punk pop song meant a huge amount to numerous teenagers growing up in the late 1970s. Personally speaking, though, I came to Buzzcocks late. I mean, I knew and loved 'Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)', but doesn't everyone? It was a chance early-hours encounter at an ATP in 2009 that really brought home to me how good they are, each song better than the last. Thank you to My Bloody Valentine for helping me to (belatedly) see the light.
Singles Going Steady was swiftly purchased and played to death. Catching Buzzcocks headline the 1-2-3-4 Festival in Shoreditch in 2012 was one of the highlights of a summer that also included a trip to Primavera in Porto and confirmed my feeling that they (and Wire) should be ranked above Sex Pistols and The Clash in the punk pantheon.
With the benefit of hindsight, I feel even more privileged to have seen them for one last time earlier this year. They might not have been quite at their best, and Shelley in particular was showing signs of age, but nothing could detract from the quality of that back catalogue. Allow me the self-indulgence of quoting the last line of that review: "Over the past four decades, countless people have fallen in love with Buzzcocks, but I'd guarantee that not one of them has ever regretted it."