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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, produced and sang on Magnet's first release, Alvin Stardust's "My Coo Ca Choo", which reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 1 in many other countries including Australia where it became the biggest chart seller of 1974, staying at the top slot for seven weeks.
Having earlier appeared as the original Alvin Stardust on the TV show Lift Off with Ayshea, Shelley was surprised when the record went straight into the chart the following week. However, as he had no desire to become his creation, he and Levy 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. Shane Fenton was chosen to fill the role and appeared on Top of the Pops the same week the record entered the Top 30 in November 1973. Shelley then followed up writing and producing a string of hits for Stardust.
As a performer in his own right Shelley had hits with "Gee Baby" and "Love Me Love My Dog". By 1975, Magnet had become 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.
During this period, he created the character Robotman, recording and producing an animated, music video of the song "I Wanna Be Your Robotman" (featuring Shelley as the lead vocalist). Shelley eventually showed the character to United Media Syndicate of New York, with whom a joint contract was made to further develop Robotman both as a comic strip and music driven, licensed property. The comic strip Robotman was an immediate success, followed by an appearance in the Macy's Day Parade in 1985 and a one-hour, Robotman and Friends Network TV special, featuring Shelley's songs.
"Let It Ride" sung by Hard Horse, D'ART ART2002 -- 1971
- "Attack Attack", song by Yellow Bird, Peter Shelley and Marty Wilde 1974
- "Gee Baby" - Magnet MAG 12 - UK #4; US Billboard #81 - 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.
- "Alvin Stardust – My Coo Ca Choo". Discogs.com. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- Adam Sweeting "Alvin Stardust obituary", The Guardian, 23 October 2014
- Obituary:Alvin Stardust, Daily Telegraph, 23 October 2014