Burke Shelley / Legendary Budgie founder dies aged 71

Burke Shelley, the lead vocalist and bassist of the pioneering Heavy Metal band Budgie, has died aged 71. The news of his passing was shared by his daughter Ela.

“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 was diagnosed with a six-centimetre aortic aneurysm – a dangerous and abnormal swelling of the main artery that supplies blood to the body – whilst on tour in Europe in 2010.

He turned down surgery for the condition because it might cause irreparable spinal damage, and he didn’t want to spend what time he had left in a wheelchair.

Shelley co-founded the band Hills Contemporary Grass in 1967 with Tony Bourge on guitar and vocals and Ray Phillips on drums, changing their name to Budgie the following year. Budgie released their self-titled debut album in July 1971 and, in the process, became a significant influence on the NWOBHM scene.

Budgie played the Reading Festival in 1980, headlined Reading in 1982 and would become the first Heavy Metal band to play behind the Iron Curtain.

Shelley and Budgie would go on to be cited as major influences of Metallica, Iron Maiden and Van Halen.

Shelley appeared on all eleven of the band’s studio albums.

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