Budgie (band)

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Budgie in 1974; Left to right: Pete Boot, Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley.
Budgie in 1974; Left to right: Pete Boot, Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley.
Background information
OriginCardiff, Wales
Years active1967–1987, 1995–1996, 1999–2010
Past membersBurke Shelley
Steve Williams
Craig Goldy
Tony Bourge
Ray Phillips
Pete Boot
Rob Kendrick
John "Big" Thomas
Duncan Mackay
Jim Simpson
Robert "Congo" Jones
Andy Hart
Simon Lees
Huw Lloyd-Langton

Budgie were a Welsh heavy metal band from Cardiff. The band formed in 1967, and the following year recorded a demo; in 1971, their first album (of blues-oriented hard rock), produced by Rodger Bain, was released by MCA. The band, a classic power trio with the occasional keyboard player, released ten albums, with MCA, A&M, and RCS, between 1971 and 1982, attracting a fair number of fans and achieving modest commercial success.

Budgie were one of the earliest heavy metal bands, and according to Garry Sharpe-Young they were a seminal influence to many acts of that scene,[3] particularly the so-called new wave of British heavy metal, and later acts such as Metallica.[4] The band has been noted as "among the heaviest metal of its day."[1]


Budgie formed in 1967 in Cardiff, Wales under the name Hills Contemporary Grass. Their original line-up consisted of Burke Shelley on vocals and bass, Tony Bourge on guitar and vocals, and Ray Phillips on drums.[5][non-primary source needed] After performing several gigs in 1968, the band changed their name to Budgie the following year and recorded their first demo.[3] The band had initially considered going under the name "Six Ton Budgie", but decided the shorter single word variant was preferable.[6] Burke Shelley has said that the band's name came from the fact that he, "loved the idea of playing noisy, heavy rock, but calling ourselves after something diametrically opposed to that".[7]

Their debut album of strong, blues-oriented hard rock was recorded at Rockfield Studios with Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain[8] and released in 1971, followed by Squawk in 1972. The third album, Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973), contained "Breadfan", which was covered by Metallica in 1987. Metallica had covered another Budgie song, "Crash Course in Brain Surgery", earlier in their career. Ray Phillips left the band before the fourth album In for the Kill! was recorded.[9] He was replaced by Pete Boot.[10]

In late 1974, Boot left and was replaced by Steve Williams for the album Bandolier.[9] For concerts promoting this album (and the follow-up, If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules), the band were augmented by second guitarist Myf Isaac. Music from the 1978 LP Impeckable was featured in the 1979 film J-Men Forever (shown frequently on the USA Network's "Night Flight" T.V. in the 1980s) which is now considered a cult classic. Both Bourge and Isaac left in 1978 and were replaced by ex Trapeze guitarist Robert Kendrick and ex Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton.[11] Langton's stint was short lived as Kendrick convinced the band to fire him. In late 1978, having been dropped by A&M and with no new recording contract, this line up floundered, and after 12 months Kendrick was replaced by "Big" John Thomas (b. 21 February 1952) in late 1979. This line up recorded two albums for Kingsley Ward's 'Active' label: Power Supply (1980) and Nightflight (1981). 1982 saw them signed to RCA for Deliver Us from Evil their final recording for a major label.

Burke Shelley and Steve Williams performing in Mountain Ash in 1981

The band continued to have success during the new wave of British heavy metal period, playing the Reading Festival in 1980 and then headlining the festival in 1982.[12] They built a particular following in Poland,[citation needed] where they played as the first heavy metal band behind the Iron Curtain, in 1982. Also notable was their tour in support of Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz Tour.[13]

The band stopped gigging in 1987.[9] Members went into studio production, occasionally guesting on other projects; Thomas most notably worked on the Phenomena CD with Glenn Hughes[14][15] out of the Black Sabbath studios.

Although the group had little commercial success in America, they have enjoyed a strong cult following in Texas,[16] and they have been known to receive radio airplay from Joe Anthony and Lou Roney on KMAC/KISS radio in San Antonio in the 1970s,[17] as well as KSHE95 in St. Louis. The band reformed using various drummers for one-off gigs in 1995, 1996 for outdoor festivals 'La Semana Alegre' in San Antonio, Texas. They toured in 2002–6, mostly in the United Kingdom, the NYC/NJ area, Dallas, and with a few shows in Europe including the Sweden Rock Festival and a return to Poland. In 1999 the band officially reformed in Letchworth.

In 2006, Budgie undertook a 35 date UK tour and released a new album, You're All Living in Cuckooland on 7 November that year. In 2007 they also played in Sweden and Poland.

On 4 July 2007, Lees announced his departure from the band to concentrate on teaching and a solo career. Following the departure of Lees, Dio lead guitarist and songwriter Craig Goldy offered his services while Ronnie James Dio was completing commitments with Heaven & Hell. In February 2008, Craig Goldy accompanied Budgie on their first tour of Australia, and continued playing with the band as 'guest guitarist' for all their shows.

Budgie's November 2010 tour of Eastern Europe had to be cancelled as Shelley was hospitalised on 9 November in Wejherowo, Poland with a 6 cm aortic aneurysm. After surgery, he returned to Britain for recovery.[18]

On 3 March 2016, former guitarist John Thomas died at the age of 63 after being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. The news of his death was confirmed by drummer Steve Williams on Facebook: "My friend and fellow BUDGIE band member John Thomas sadly passed away last night. My thoughts are with the loved ones he left behind."[19]

In February 2018, former Budgie drummer Pete Boot died at the age of 67. For many years he had been coping with Parkinson's disease.

In April 2018, founder member and original drummer Ray Phillips released his autobiography.[20]

After more than a decade of health issues, including an aortic aneurysm and Stickler syndrome, Shelley died on 10 January 2022, at the age of 71.[21]

Musical style and legacy[edit]

Budgie is best known as a hard rock[2] and heavy metal[1][2][22] band which incorporated elements of progressive rock[22] and humor into their musical style.[22] Beginning with 1975's Bandolier, Budgie also began to incorporate funk into their music.[22]

Budgie's music was described in the All-Music Guide as a cross between Rush and Black Sabbath.[2] Burke Shelley's vocals have been compared to Geddy Lee due to his similar approach of high-pitched banshee wails (coincidentally, Shelley and Lee are also the bass players in their respective power-trio bands).[2] Although Budgie remained quite obscure during their early career, many future stars of hard rock/metal have cited them as an important influence and covered their songs, including Iron Maiden,[23] Metallica,[24] Megadeth,[25] Van Halen,[26] Melvins,[27] Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains,[28] and Soundgarden.[29]

Metallica released a cover of "Breadfan" in September 1988 as a B-side to their "Harvester of Sorrow" single. It was later included on their 1998 album Garage Inc., and was also used as an encore during their 1988–1989 tour supporting their ...And Justice for All album. A live video version is present on the Live Shit: Binge & Purge boxed set, taken from their Seattle concerts on 29 and 30 August 1989 where it was performed in the second encore. It was also played with frequency during the Madly in Anger with the World Tour and World Magnetic Tour. A short clip of "Breadfan" is played at the beginning of the "Whiskey in the Jar" music video. They also covered "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" on the Garage Days Re-Revisited EP.


Final lineup

  • Burke Shelley – lead vocals, bass (1967–1988, 1995–1996, 1999–2010; died 2022)
  • Steve Williams – drums, percussion, backing vocals (1974–1986, 1999–2010)
  • Craig Goldy – guitar (2008–2010)


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album UK AUS[30]
1971 Budgie 36
1972 Squawk
1973 Never Turn Your Back on a Friend
1974 In for the Kill! 29
1975 Bandolier 36 75
1976 If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules 98
1978 Impeckable
1980 Power Supply
1981 Nightflight 68
1982 Deliver Us from Evil 62
2006 You're All Living in Cuckooland

Live albums[edit]

Year Album
1998 Heavier Than Air – Rarest Eggs
(live compilation of 1972–1981 material)
We Came, We Saw...
(live compilation of 1980–1982 material)
2002 Life in San Antonio
2005 Radio Sessions 1974 & 1978
(double album)
2006 The BBC Recordings
(live compilation of 1972–1982 material)
2022 Live Flight
(includes live recordings from a tour in 2009)

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album
1975 Best of Budgie
1981 Best of Budgie
1996 An Ecstasy of Fumbling - The Definitive Anthology
1997 Best of Budgie
2004 The Last Stage


Singles (UK-exclusive unless stated otherwise)[edit]

  • "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" / "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman" (1971, MCA MK 5072)
  • "Whiskey River" / "Guts" (1972, MCA MK 5085)
  • "Whiskey River" / "Stranded" (1972, MCA 2185) – US-exclusive release
  • "Zoom Club (Edit)" / "Wondering What Everyone Knows" (1974, MCA 133)
  • "I Ain't No Mountain" / "Honey" (1975, MCA 175)
  • "Smile Boy Smile" / "All at Sea" (1978, A&M AMS 7342)
  • "Crime Against the World" / "Hellbender" (1980, Active BUDGE 2)
  • "Keeping a Rendezvous" / "Apparatus" (1981, RCA BUDGE 3) – UK No. 71
  • "I Turned to Stone (Part 1)" / "I Turned to Stone (Part 2)" (1981, RCA BUDGE 4)
  • "I Turned to Stone" / "She Used Me Up" (1981, Tonpress S-445) – Polish release
  • "Bored with Russia" / "Don't Cry" (1982, RCA 271)


  1. ^ a b c Crocker 1993, p. 106 "Still recording into the eighties, Budgie was among the heaviest metal of its day."
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Artist-Budgie". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b Sharpe-Young, Garry (2007), p. 30
  4. ^ [1] Archived 6 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Budgie's MySpace page". Myspace.com. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Artists :: BUDGIE". MusicMight. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Classic Rock " Blog Archive " The Top 14 Birds in Rock". Classicrockmagazine.com. 24 February 2009. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  8. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Budgie – Budgie". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 361. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  10. ^ Prato, Greg (30 May 2002). "Budgie". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Budgie". Nostalgia Central. 2017.
  12. ^ "Reading Festival timeline". Fatreg.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  13. ^ [2] Archived 27 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Phonomena – Phonomena". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  15. ^ Phillip Hackney. "Whitesnake". Whitesnake.f9.co.uk. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  16. ^ Prato, Greg (2 August 2002). "Life in San Antonio – Budgie". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  17. ^ Mendiola, Jim. "San Antonio Current – SPECIAL ISSUES: Louder By Design". Sacurrent.com. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  18. ^ Shelley, Burke. "Latest update 20 November". Budgie.uk. Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  19. ^ "Former Budgie Guitarist John Thomas Dies". Blabbermouth.net. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  20. ^ "Budgie books". Budgie books. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  21. ^ "BUDGIE's BURKE SHELLEY Dies At 71". Blabbermouth.net. 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  22. ^ a b c d Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Budgie: Bandolier" at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  23. ^ "Iron Maiden – Similar Artists, Megadeth,Influenced By, Followers". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  24. ^ "Metallica – Similar Artists, Influenced By, Followers". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  25. ^ Kory Grow (3 August 2010). "Exclusive Excerpt From Dave Mustaine's Autobiography: Meeting Lars Ulrich – Hard Rock & Heavy Metal News |Golden Gods Awards". Revolvermag.com. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  26. ^ Prato, Greg. "In for the Kill! – Budgie : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  27. ^ "Melvins – Similar Artists, Influenced By, Followers". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  28. ^ "Alice in Chains – Similar Artists, Influenced By, Followers". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  29. ^ "Soundgarden – Similar Artists, Influenced By, Followers". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  30. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 49. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.


External links[edit]