Burke Shelley dead: Budgie singer and bassist dies aged 71

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Shelley died on Monday night
(Picture: Getty)

Burke Shelley, singer and bassist for the Welsh rock and heavy metal band Budgie, has died aged 71.

His death was announced by his daughter Ela Shelley on Monday night.

In a statement on Facebook, she wrote: ‘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.’

No cause of death has yet been released.

Shelley with Steve Williams and ‘Big’ John Thomas as Budgie perform at the Reading Festival in August 1980 (Picture: Redferns)
Shelley on stage with Budgie in 2006 (Picture: Redferns)

Budgie was formed in Cardiff in 1967 by Shelley, singer and guitarist Tony Bourge and drummer Ray Phillips.

They released 10 studio albums between 1971 and 1982, including 1974’s In for the Kill!, which peaked at number 29 on the UK album charts.

The band first stopped gigging in 1987, before officially reforming in 1999 and going on to record their final album, 2006’s You’re All Living in Cuckooland.

Budgie was an inspiration for many major hard rock and metal acts like Megadeath, Iron Maiden and Metallica, all of whom covered the group’s songs.

Tributes poured in from fans for Shelley, with Mikael Åkerfeldt, frontman of Swedish band Opeth, praising him as ‘one of my idols’ on the group’s official Facebook page.

‘I almost choked on my coffee this morning when I read that one of my idols, the great Burke Shelley of Budgie had passed away. What a terrible loss!’ he wrote.

Budgie is a group seen as incredibly influential to major metal acts like Metallica (Picture: Future via Getty Images)

After going through some of his favourite songs from Budgie, including Slipaway and Everything in My Heart, he added: ‘We [Opeth] recorded 2 albums at the Rockfield studio in Monmouth/Wales, which was kind of the go-to studio for Budgie.

‘I remember waiting for them to drop by, but they never did. Why would they? Childish dreams on my behalf. So I’ve never met them unfortunately. I did however manage to see them live twice, and they’re fantastic!

‘Thank you Burke, for all your fantastic music! And our sincere condolences to the Shelley family as well as to the remaining band members, past and present.’

Broadcaster Matthew Wright also shared his sadness at the news, echoing Mikael’s view that the band was ‘underrated’.

‘Loved this fella, what a band Budgie were but terribly underrated,’ he said. ‘The last gigs I saw were in tiny clubs or village halls but Budgie still rocked my socks off every time! God bless you Burke Shelley, may you rest in rock x’

Shelley had been living with Stickler syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that effects connective tissue, and had previously suffered two aortic aneurysms.

Budgie had been on haitus since Shelley’s hospitalisation in Poland in November 2010 with an aortic aneurysm, which forced the group to cancel the rest of their European tour.

He is survived by his four children.

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