Burke Shelley

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Burke Shelley
Burke Shelley.JPG
Background information
Birth nameJohn Burke Shelley
Born (1950-04-10) 10 April 1950 (age 69)
Llanishen, Cardiff, Wales
GenresHard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsBass, vocals, keyboards, guitar
Years active1967–present
Associated actsBudgie

John Burke Shelley (born 10 April 1950) is a Welsh bass guitarist and vocalist of the Welsh rock band Budgie.

Early life[edit]

Shelley was born in Tiger Bay, (now known as Cardiff Bay) Cardiff. In 1982, Shelley was reported to be a born-again Christian.[1] Shelley confirmed his Christian beliefs in a 2010 interview for the BBC documentary Heavy Metal Britannia, saying he'd always been uncomfortable with the occult-themed lyrics of bands such as Black Sabbath.[2]

Music career[edit]

Shelley is often compared to Rush bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee,[3] as they both share the position of bassist/vocalist in power trio bands, both have distinctive high pitched singing voices, and during the mid to late 1970s they bore a striking resemblance to one other, with long straight hair and huge glasses. Like Lee, Shelley possessed a high tenor vocal range.[4] In addition to singing and playing bass for the group, Shelley also performed keyboards on its early albums, most notably Mellotron on "Young is a World" from their second album Squawk.

Shelley's singing voice on earlier Budgie recordings (e.g. the song "Parents" on the 1973 album Never Turn Your Back on a Friend) sometimes bears a marked resemblance, in timbre and style, to that of Shirley Bassey,[citation needed] who also grew up in Tiger Bay. He has said that the resemblance was deliberate since he admires Bassey's work. In later years, notably on Budgie's 2006 album, You're All Living In Cuckooland, Shelley's voice has become much deeper.[citation needed]

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, but no decision about the future of the band has been made.[5] Shelley has said that following the operation he finds it hard to simultaneously sing and play bass guitar for long periods. Nevertheless, he continues to play bass (with occasional backing vocal duties) in rock and pop covers bands based in South Wales.


  1. ^ Allmusic.com
  2. ^ Shelley: "The aim is always at Christ... Christianity. That's what it's always at. You know, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and all the rest of them, you know... the names are all fiddling around with... to sound menacing. I'm a Christian, so I don't want to mess with anything like that, you know...cause I read in the Bible it's a bad thing, you know... to mess around with anything."
  3. ^ "Biography of Budgie". Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  4. ^ "Burke Shelley". Retrieved 2013-08-25.
  5. ^ Shelley, Burke. "Latest update 20 November". Budgie.uk. Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.