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Budgie Frontman Burke Shelley Dies Aged 71

Tuesday, 11 January 2022 Written by Jon Stickler

Photo: Adam Gasson

Budgie founder and bassist Burke Shelley has died aged 71.

The news of the Welsh musician's passing was shared yesterday evening (January 10) by his daughter Ela. A cause of death hasn't been revealed. She wrote in the Budgie Fans worldwide Facebook group:

"It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my father, John Burke Shelley. He passed away this evening in his sleep at Heath Hospital in Cardiff, his birth town. He was 71 years old.

Please respect the family during this time.

With love,

His four children: Ela, Osian, Dimitri and Nathaniel."

Burke Shelley was born on April 10, 1950 at St. David's Hospital in Canton, Cardiff. Raised in the city, he went on to co-found Budgie in 1967 with Tony Bourge on guitar and vocals and Ray Phillips on drums.

Having inked a deal in the early 1970s with MCA Records, the band became one of the trailblazers of hard rock and heavy metal, putting out their eponymous debut LP in 1971 before releasing 'Squawk' a year later and 'Never Turn Your Back On A Friend' in 1973.

They influenced countless acts, including iconic groups such as Iron Maiden and Metallica, who began covering Budgie classics like Crash Course In Brian Surgery, Breadfan, and I Can't See My Feelings.

Shelley stayed with Budgie until their split in 1988 and appeared on all 11 of their studio albums. In recent years he was in poor health and battled Stickler syndrome, a genetic disorder. He also suffered two aortic aneurysms.


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