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Shelley entered the UK music industry in 1965 working initially as a song plugger with the music publisher, Chappell & Co. He then joined EMI as personal assistant to their chief songwriter/record producer Norman Newell, his responsibilities covering various aspects of music co-ordination, production and administration. He supervised several minor recording sessions for Newell at EMI's Abbey Road Studios, so learning the basics of record production.
He later joined Decca Records as a talent scout, discovering for the label Amen Corner, Ten Years After and Giles, Giles and Fripp — the nucleus of a band later to be called King Crimson. At Decca, Shelley worked with Dick Rowe and Ivor Raymonde and eventually began to write and produce for the company. He left Decca in 1968 to become an independent writer/producer, working with other writers such as Ben Findon and Marty Wilde. He had several minor European single hits during this period.
In 1973 Shelley co-founded Magnet Records with Michael Levy. Shelley's role was that of director of A&R and Levy's as president/general manager/administrator. Shelley wrote and produced Magnet's first release Alvin Stardusts "My Coo Ca Choo" which reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart and #1 in many other countries including Australia where it became the biggest chart seller of 1974, staying in the #1 slot for 7 weeks.
Having earlier appeared as the original Alvin Stardust on the Lift Off television programme, Shelley was surprised when the record went straight into the chart the following week. However, as he had no desire to become his own stage name creation, he and Levy both agreed that if this act was to become more than just a one-hit wonder, then a "face" was required to be — and perform — as Alvin Stardust. The ideal person appeared, Shane Fenton. The new 'Stardust' then appeared on BBC Television's Top of the Pops just as the record had entered the Top 30, before finally reaching #2. Shelley then followed up with a string of hits with Stardust, including "Jealous Mind" which went to #1 in the UK.
As a performer in his own right Shelley had hits with "Gee Baby" and "Love Me Love My Dog". By 1975, Magnet became one of the UK's most successful independent record labels under Shelley's creative direction. He also helped sign Guys 'n' Dolls, and Chris Rea to the label. Shelley was presented with the Ivor Novello Award in 1975 for his services to the UK music industry. However, due to differences between Levy and himself, Shelley resigned from Magnet in late 1975 to pursue an independent career.
Shelley now lives in Canada where he emigrated in 1980 and where he has continued primarily as a songwriter. During this period, Shelley composed songs for an animated version of the comic strip Robotman.
- "Gee Baby" - Magnet MAG 12 - UK #4 - 1974
- "Love Me Love My Dog" - Magnet MAG 22 - UK #3 - 1975
- "Little Julie/I'm Flying MAG35 - 1975
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 495. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.