In Memoriam: Burke Shelley

Burke Shelley

Sad news to report today: Budgie bassist and vocalist Burke Shelley has passed away. His daughter Ela wrote on social media that he died in his sleep at Heath Hospital in Cardiff. He was 71 years old.

Shelley was born in Cardiff in 1950 and formed Budgie in 1967 at just 17 years old. Their self-titled debut came in 1971, and the band steadily released new albums each year for the majority of the decade.

The power trio’s sound melded blues with hard rock with Shelley’s snarling bass and high-pitched vocals giving them an even more distinct edge. Many point to the band as one of the progenitors of heavy metal, though Shelley was reluctant to accept that. Their most influential song, “Breadfan”, was famously covered by Metallica, who cite the band as an influence. Other groups that covered Budgie songs include Van Halen, Megadeth, and Iron Maiden.

Budgie released 10 albums between 1971 and 1982 before breaking up in 1988. They reunited for a series of concerts in 1994 and 1995 and then formed again in 1999. They released another album, You’re All Living in Cuckooland, in 2006. Budgie came to a halt in 2010 when Shelley suffered an aortic aneurysm that left him unable to sing to his full abilities. He would later be diagnosed with Stickler Syndrome, which is a rare disorder affecting connective tissues.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Burke Shelley.

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  1. Phil

    Saw budgie so many times live over the years one hel of a live band with a loyal following huge loss to Welsh rock and rock music in general RIP BURKE

  2. John

    Budgie were the first band I ever went to see, Brighton polytechnic 1974, a band whose first four albums are simply fantastic slabs of no frills, straight forward rock, and deserve to be mentioned alongside those of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.
    A highly influential band, without ever getting the rightful acclaim I feel they deserved, even the mighty Metallica covered two of their songs.
    R.I.P. Burke.

  3. David Attwood

    I saw budgie twice in Birmingham and I was blown away and my love for budgie never slowed playing budgie CDs in my car Christmas eve as I headed home, so this sad news brought me to tears. Thank you for what you brought to the world and thank you for changing my world. A massive fan. Dave Attwood.

  4. DHattie

    I was born in 1968 and my first rock tunes I listened was in ‘76 and Budgie were among them and not really knowing who they were, to me They sounded so F***k’n Awesome! My Condolences are with The Shelley Family and Friends. RIP Burke Shelley