Buzzcocks are an English punk rock band, formed in Bolton 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, pop punk and indie rock. 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, cocks!”, 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.
Howard Trafford, a student at Bolton Institute of Technology (now the University of Bolton), 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 played electronic music and McNeish had played rock.
McNeish assumed the stage name Pete Shelley, and Trafford named himself Howard Devoto, after a bus driver in Cambridge. In late 1975, Shelley and Devoto recruited a drummer and formed an embryonic version of Buzzcocks. The band formed as Buzzcocks in February 1976 and 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.