REMEMBERING PETE SHELLEY
Who is Pete Shelley?
Peter Campbell McNeish, known to us as Pete Shelley, was born 17th April 1955 at 42 Milton Street, Leigh, Lancashire. Pete sadly died on the 6th December 2018 at his home in Estonia.
News that shocked a nation, genius and gone, but as a fellow Leigh born man, and big fan (we call ourselves Leythers in good traditional northern dialect), we lost part of the family. Leigh is quite a close community and we are quite proud of our town folk who found success. It isn’t a long list but in my opinion Pete sits up there as the biggest and the best.
I was 13 when Pete and Buzzcocks recorded and released the Spiral Scratch ep. Very changing times and something that was very influential and inviting to your typical 13 year old. Coupled with the fact that we knew Pete was from Leigh just like us, it made everything feel so very different.
There is obviously more to life in Leigh than our coal mines and cotton factories that made up the towns backdrop.
Along with a few other Leigh born fans I set up The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign.
We felt that Pete had never been honored in any way, shape or form from his home town and we felt that Pete’s legacy needs to live forever in Leigh due to the inspirational aspect that Pete gives to the Town and to any budding musicians and artists.
Pete is an exemplary example of your normal and typical working class lad, done good.
The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign
The campaign officially formed in January 2019 is managed by 5 unpaid volunteer members of a committee group. An official bank account is in place that requires 3 signatures and this is governed by a constitution document.
The aim of the campaign is to fund raise by hosting live music events and to collaborate with appropriate partners with the intention of funding an appropriate memorial of Pete Shelley that will live in his hometown.
One thing to keep in mind is that in the memorial campaign no one involved with or attached to the campaign is getting paid or being paid expenses. It is all being done out of love and respect for someone who we believe needs recognition of his achievements and work from his hometown.
The long term goal of the campaign is to become a recognised charity, long after a memorial has been achieved. This would allow Pete’s lasting legacy and it is hoped we can raise funds that contribute to music and arts locally and in particular fund budding musicians and artists to help them achieve their dreams, or at the very least set them up with a start.
None of the campaign team are professional music promoters, and all the team have other employment commitments along with the memorial campaign. If anything I would describe ourselves as amateur fund raisers and lifelong fans of Pete Shelley.
The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign has now been active for just over 12 months and in that time we have played host to 6 live music events, we have held a couple of auctions and we were involved in the recent understated exhibition in Leigh, curated by Malcolm Garrett. We have already achieved the blue plaque for the house where Pete lived, achieved through partnership working with Wigan Council. We have so far managed to raise just short of £10,000 and at this moment we are working on the next fund raising live music event which again will bring together bands that Pete had some involvement with throughout their own careers. More news will be released on that soon.
The previous event brought together 5 punk bands from the 70s on one stage for a one-off punk gig in Pete’s hometown. An event that sold out well in advance of the date and raised over £3,200 for the campaign. More about that next.
Ever fallen in love?
The date:15th of February 2020. The time: 6pm. The venue: St. Joseph’s Hall. Leigh.
This was our 6th fund raising event, and quite a lot of thought was put into this one, from the event title ‘Ever fallen in love’ not only the title of Pete’s biggest hit but also the date that follows Valentine’s day, the day which celebrates love.
Five bands who not only have shared the same stage as Pete but who all quote him as an inspiration on their own chosen careers.
And finally the venue, St Joseph’s Hall, with its 1970s feel including a balcony and bar it was as close to recreating that traditional 1970s punk type venue as you could find in Leigh.
Five bands who didn’t need to be asked twice, and all jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to Pete in Leigh.
The night was hosted by award winning urban poet Simon Williams, Salford born and lifelong fan of Pete.
First on stage were Benefit State, a Salford based 4 piece punk band, presently actively performing throughout the country and can usually be found at all the punk festivals, a great start to what was going to be an amazing night and a nice introduction to the nostalgia that followed.
By 7pm there’s around 200 people inside the hall and Notsensibles take to the stage. The band who were responsible for the tongue in cheek punk classic, ‘I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher’ and had brought themselves back from retirement for this show. Complete with his duffle coat that he was still wearing vocalist Mike Haggis introduces the band and immediately the set begins, with an energy and enthusiasm that any young teenager would have.
An absolutely amazing set that included Notsensible classics ‘Little boxes’, ‘Telephone rings again’, and ‘Girl with scruffy hair’ along with many others, needless to say the duffle coat didn’t last long and the ‘Sensies rocked the stage to a very appreciative crowd.
Mike Haggis said following the event, “I was 15 when I first heard the music of Pete Shelley, now at 57 Pete’s music still sounds as fresh and vibrant today. As singer in the Notsensibles he has been a massive influence on me, and I am proud to be part of the campaign for a permanent memorial in his hometown. R. I. P. Pete, life’s an illusion, love is a dream. “
Simon Williams performed his urban poetry and also played auctioneer as he auctioned exclusive signed items from Buzzcocks, and Stereophonics along with items donated by the bands playing on the night, between each set.
Next up were the fantastic The Distractions. As stylish as ever the band whose career took them through many major record labels gave a solid and stable performance and its hard to believe that we are now 44 years down the line with one of Manchester biggest and most consistent of bands. The Distractions gave an outstanding performance to a very appreciative audience. Alex Sidebottom, drummer with The Distractions had this to say following the event. “What people sometimes forget about Pete is the help, support and encouragement he always gave to other bands. The Distractions played with Buzzcocks in 1977 and Pete would always be either trying to get us a gig or he would be bigging us up to the record companies. He was a true gent who will never be forgotten”.
Swinton’s very own Fast cars followed at 9pm, a typical very energetic performance from a band who have been with us since 1978. Vocalist Steve Murray encouraged the crowd to come closer and his non stop energy was evident as they played their anthem ‘The kids just wanna dance’, along with the classics ‘Images of you’ and ‘Tameside girls’. They also performed their version of ‘What Do I Get’ as a tribute to the man who had brought everyone together for this evenings shenanigans. Steve Murray vocalist with Fast Cars said after the event. “I saw Buzzcocks for the second time in 1978, and I can clearly recall Pete introducing a song, by simply saying, “Here’s a new one”. The band then tore into ‘What Do I Get”, one of the most perfect songs I had ever heard. 42 years later and we were playing that song at Pete’s hometown in Leigh, to a sell out crowd for the Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign and it felt as fresh as the moment I first heard it. Thanks for the inspiration, the memories and the music Pete Shelley”
10pm was here, enter the legendary stalwarts of the Manchester punk scene, The Drones, the band who were part of punks inception, many years ago now. Performing an energetic set that surpassed 80 minutes, The Drones gave a fitting and energetic performance and included Buzzcocks classic ‘Boredom’ in their set by way of a tribute to the great man Pete Shelley.
Wispa, vocalist and bassist with The Drones, said following the event, “Big congratulations to all involved in this event, and for giving your own time and efforts to a cause that is very much in all our hearts, a huge thank you to the punk rock family who braved the awful weather and as they always do, dug deep into their pockets and raised a fantastic amount. Pete Shelley will always be in our thoughts, thanks to you all. “
11:20pm and the event has ended, 5 hours and 20 minutes of solid and incredible performances in honour of our local hero Pete, the event managed to rake in over £3,200.
The Pete Shelley Memorial Campaign would like to thank each and every person that has been involved with, and have continued to support the campaign throughout. We would also like to add that this is a collective project and it is open to everyone to become involved in any way you can. We can be contacted on email at firstname.lastname@example.org and more information can be found at www.peteshelleymemorial.com
Remember the memorial will have been funded by fans, friends and family of Pete Shelley.
Paul Lally (on behalf of PSMC)
Photos by Steve White