How many 20-year-olds today would jump in a car and travel 200 miles to see a band on the strength of one written gig review of a band they had never seen before, I’m thinking very few. Then after the gig, they have the insight to invite that band 200 miles up the road to play in their own home city a few months later, this was the Buzzcocks introduction to the Sex Pistols.
Forming in 1976 the Buzzcocks became inspired and motivated to create a Manchester uprising of their very own, unaware that organising a gig for the Sex Pistols in the Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976 would change music in the city forever. The band themselves released their own material soon after, in 1977 “Spiral Scratch was put out on their own New Hormones label which was unheard of in the 70s. Such a bold and intuitive move inspired other bands to take up the challenge, with a surge of independent releases around the country proving that major labels were no longer the route to success. Although Howard Devoto left soon after the release of “Spiral Scratch” (Forming Magazine) and Pete Shelley took the mic, the Buzzcocks had already created a sound that would inspire a more pop sounding Punk around the country just as the pistols had done to them on that journey down the motorway.
The higher pitch of Shelley’s vocal and catchy energetic tunes made the Buzzcocks more nation friendly, they were less aggressive than their contemporaries but still kept hold of their Punk credibility with their early releases. Songs such as “What Do I Get”, “Love You More”, “Ever Fallen In Love” “Promises” “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” and “Harmony in My Head” all got into the UK top 40, crossing over into the mainstream was a huge achievement for any Punk band at the time considering the backlash of the nation over the pistols TV appearance.
Although the Bands flame diminished before splitting in 1981, they have had a number of reunions and are still successfully touring and releasing music today with Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle in place. The Buzzcocks heralded another direction for Punks aggressive outpourings, making it acceptable to protest with a softer voice and melodic tune. This awakened experimental bands throughout the coming years and no doubt had some influence over the Pop Punk stadium bands of today, as the Buzzcocks left their mark on future musicians on those early US tours. Those groundbreaking songs put together with the creation of their own label embeds the Buzzcocks not only in Punk history but as an influence on music as a whole, which all started with a journey to see an unknown band 200 miles away they had read about.