Metallica and Motorhead pay tribute to Budgie’s Burke Shelley
Some of the biggest names in rock music have paid their tributes to Burke Shelley, who has died aged 71.
The frontman and bass player of Welsh rockers Budgie passed away at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Announcing his death on Facebook, his daughter Ela posted: “It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my father, John Burke Shelley,” she posted.
“He passed away this evening in his sleep at Heath Hospital in Cardiff, his birth town.”
While not gaining the commercial success of those they influenced, Budgie were trailblazers for the hard rock scene in the ‘70s and a guiding light for many of the new wave of British heavy metal bands of the ‘80s.
They were arguably the most underrated but the most influential Welsh rock band of all time.
Their imprint can be keenly felt on everyone from Judas Priest to Iron Maiden, Metallica to Motorhead.
The Cardiff band gained a whole new audience thanks to Metallica who professed their love of the Welsh rockers, covering their tracks – Breadfan and Crash Course in Brain Surgery.
Metallica’s Lars Ulrich was one of the musicians leading the tributes to the bass player.
Sharing a photo of Burke Shelley on his Instagram stories, Lars Ulrich wrote: “Thank you Burke for everything you did for heavy music and much next level appreciation for co-writing and creating two songs that Metallica were honoured to record over the years, ‘Breadfan’ and ‘Crash Course In Brain Surgery’.”
Motorhead’s Phil Campbell paid tribute to the Welsh musician remembering how he played on the same bill as Budgie in the late ‘70s.
Sad to hear of the passing of Burke Shelley. I played support to them as far back as Persian Risk days. They were pioneers and produced some of the heaviest riffing you could imagine. Thoughts are with his family. RIP welsh hero.🎸 pic.twitter.com/xl53AZO77r
— Phil Campbell (@MotorheadPhil) January 11, 2022
Steve Albini of US punk pioneers Big Black revealed his love of Budgie posting a tribute to the Welshman on his Twitter.
Requiescat Burke Shelley of the great heavy band Budgie. All their songs were weird and cool and they remained a genuine inspiration through punk and everything after. https://t.co/0RPZOswAcr
— steve albini (@electricalWSOP) January 11, 2022
Manic Street Preachers were also huge fans of Budgie.
Speaking to Nation Cymru’s David Owens back in 2018, Nicky Wire wore a t-shirt in tribute to the Welsh rock legends and extolled the virtues of ‘Panzer Division Destroyed’ from the1980 EP ‘If Swallowed Do Not Induce Vomiting’, before enthusing over a b side to the single ‘Keeping A Rendezvous’ called ‘Apparatus’. “Absolutely incredible,” he said.“Then there’s Parents – from the early ‘70s it sounds like Radiohead with Shirley Bassey singing. It’s f****** amazing.”
All this is true!!-very sad news great band-thoughts go out to all his family and friends-will be playing Parents and Apparatus tonight ❤️💔❤️ https://t.co/az3qfNTBVl
— Manic Street Preachers (@Manics) January 11, 2022
Shelley had been suffering from Stickler syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause serious vision, hearing and joint problems.
In an interview with Nathan Bevan of WalesOnline he revealed how he’d been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm – a dangerous and abnormal swelling of the main artery that supplies blood to the body – but had turned down surgery in case it caused irreparable spinal damage and left him bed-bound or in a wheelchair.
While Burke Shelley may no longer be with us, his and Budgie’s legacy is assured.
A new generation of Welsh artists are intent on keeping his flame burning brightly.
Merthyr rock band Florence Black, whose guitar player Tristan Thomas has recently been named the best new guitarist in the world, are huge fans of Budgie and have recorded a coruscating version of Breadfan.
Manwhille, Cardiff power tro The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk, take their name from the Budgie song of the same name and posted this touching tribute on Facebook today.