In Memory of Burke Shelley: A Musical Legend Leaves an Irreplaceable Void

Budgie’s Founder and Frontman passed away this January due to an aortic aneurysm and other complications from his syndrome.



Burke Shelley performing live in concert

Budgie’s Frontman, Burke Shelley, passed away at 71-years-old on January 10th. Shelley was the bassist and vocalist of the band. He was born in Cardiff, Wales, on April 10th, 1950. Burke Shelley suffered from the complications of Stickler syndrome, this is a genetic disorder that affects vision and hearing, causing joint problems. This syndrome is typically diagnosed in early childhood.


His death was announced on Facebook: “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 the Health 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.” Ela Shelley posted. 


According to Loudwire, Lars Ulrich, Mikael Åkerfeldt, King Diamond, and Mike Portnoy, paid their respects and tributes to Shelley. Numerous fans were devastated when the unfortunate news was shared.

Budgie was a Welsh hard rock and heavy metal band that was founded in Cardiff, Wales in 1967. Initially, the band was under the name of Hills Contemporary Grass, until it was later changed to Budgie instead of Six Ton Budgie, due to the single-word variant being much more distinguishable. Shelley said: “I love the idea of playing noisy, heavy rock, but calling ourselves after something diametrically opposed to that.”


The band Budgie is considered to be one of the most influential bands and was ahead of its time; inspiring Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Melvins, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden. These famous metal bands have covered Budgie songs such as: ‘Breadfan’ (Metallica), and ‘In For The Kill!’ (Van Halen), ‘Melt The Ice Away’ (Megadeth), ‘Homicidal Suicidal’ (Soundgarden), and ‘I Can’t See My Feelings’ (Iron Maiden).


Former band members of Budgie include Shelley, Ray Phillips, John Thomas, Steve Williams, Craig Goldy, Rob Kendrick, Tony Bourge and Huw Lloyd-Langton. The final lineup included Shelley, Williams, and Goldy, who stayed consistent with the group. The band had released 11 studio albums and their final album, You’re All Living in Cuckoo Land, was released on November 7th, 2006. The group would later disband.


Despite Budgie no longer recording any more music, the band’s legacy lives on. Burke Shelley was an important part of Budgie, and his death touched many. The influences made by Budgie on hard rock and heavy metal music as a whole still live on to this day, remembered by millions of people around the world.