By the late 1970s, punk rock’s initial fiery burst had run out of fuel in England. The motley assortment of musicians who had revitalized rock music with pounding chords and raw vocals had either imploded, like the Sex Pistols, or were bulldozing off into new musical terrain.

Elvis Costello slapped slick production and keyboards on the sound, helping to shape New Wave. Joy Division and Wire turned their music into canvasses for ambitious art projects. The Clash were set to fill stadiums with anthems that drew on reggae and dance hall. By the decade’s end, punk didn’t sound like punk anymore.

But the band that arguably left the biggest mark on punk rock became legends not by changing the format but sticking to the basics of pop. Buzzcocks, a Manchester four-piece, blasted into the scene in 1978 with a pair of albums that would rank among the genre’s greatest achievements. It’s a legacy that deserves a second look following Thursday’s news that Pete Shelley, the band’s songwriter and guitarist, had died at 63 of a suspected heart attack, as the BBC reported.

Shelley and the Buzzcocks’s melody-friendly take on the music set the stage for both the alternative rock that defined the 1990s, as well as the pop-punk and emo that still reigns today. Without the band, there would likely be no Pixies or Nirvana, Blink-182 or Paramore.

“Buzzcocks pretty much invented a style that would influence multiple generations of lonesome hearts and weirdos,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong wrote on Instagram on Thursday. “Never shy about writing beautiful melodies into loud fast punk.”

Shelley – born Peter McNeish – was a student at what is now the University of Bolton in Manchester, when he and another student named Howard Trafford read a review of the first Sex Pistols show in 1976, according to the Independent. The friends went to see the revolutionary act, and immediately started what would become Buzzcocks.

Although the band played their first shows opening for the Sex Pistols, their style was not a carbon copy of the music Johnny Rotten and company were using to shock the establishment.

The band played with the same frantic amphetamine energy as their early punk cohorts. But the Pistols screamed about anarchy and violence ripping through the street. The Clash railed about geopolitics. Shelley, however, belted out anthems of frustrated love and romance with titles like, “What Do I Get?” and “Ever Fallen in Love.” The music was also anchored in catchy melodies that were directly influenced by the Beatles. And the singer’s high-pitched voice was a direct contrast to Joe Strummer’s bark or Rotten’s acid screech.

Buzzcocks still managed to spark controversy with their music. The band’s first single, “Orgasm Addict,” was banned from the airwaves by the BBC due to the tune’s overt sexual message, according to Allmusic.com. The blackballed single only raised Buzzcocks’s profile among punk fans. In 1978, the band released two full-length albums – “Another Music in a Different Kitchen” and “Love Bites.”

But the band’s 24-track singles compilation released in 1979, “Singles Going Steady,” would go down as the Buzzcocks’s definitive statement.

The furious pace of recording and touring wore down the band members, causing Shelley and Buzzcocks to call it quits in 1981. The band regrouped in the 1990s, and continued to put out music until 2014. However, Buzzcocks’s musical legacy was cemented by those furious love songs penned as traditional punk was coming apart.

Shelley’s death was announced Thursday on the band’s Twitter page.

“It’s with great sadness that we confirm the death of Pete Shelley, one of the UK’s most influential and prolific songwriters,” the message stated.

The tributes to Shelley began pouring in immediately from both his original punks and younger musicians who were inspired by the band’s classic years.

“I am totally shocked and saddened to just hear of the untimely death of Pete Shelley,” original Sex Pistols bass guitarist Glen Matlock wrote on Twitter. “A superb songwriter, artist and a totally sweet hearted guy who was one of the very few originals of punk and even a one off within that.”

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