Buzzcocks – Promises

Buzzcocks are an English punk rock band, formed in Bolton, England, in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto. They are regarded as an important influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, power pop, and pop punk. 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”.

Devoto and Shelley chose the name “Buzzcocks” after reading the headline, “It’s the Buzz, Cock!”, 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 “mate” (as in friend/buddy). They thought it captured the excitement of the Sex Pistols and nascent punk scene.

Devoto left the band in 1977, after which Pete Shelley became the principal singer-songwriter.

Howard Trafford, a student at Bolton Institute of Technology, 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 had previously been involved in electronic music, while McNeish had played rock.

By late 1975, Trafford and McNeish had recruited a drummer and formed, in effect, an embryonic version of Buzzcocks. The band formed, officially, in February 1976; McNeish assumed the stage name Pete Shelley and Trafford named himself Howard Devoto. They performed live for the first time on 1 April 1976 at their college. Garth Davies played bass guitar and Mick Singleton played drums. Singleton also played in local band Black Cat Bone.

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