January 11, 2022

OPETH frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt has paid tribute to vocalist/bassist Burke Shelley of legendary Welsh rockers BUDGIE who died on Monday, January 10 at the age of 71.

Earlier today, Mikael took to OPETH's social media to write: "I almost choked on my coffee this morning when I read that one of my idols, the great Burke Shelley of BUDGIE had passed away. What a terrible loss!

"Most people know BUDGIE as the band that METALLICA covered ('Breadfan', 'Crash Course In Brain Surgery') ages ago. They remained underdogs in the scene even if they're there right in the beginning of the creation of hard rock/heavy metal music.

"I think Burke was one of those guys who was quite uncomfortable with the heavy metal tag, but it's undeniable that they were instrumental in bringing it to the masses. I stumbled upon them in the 80's. A friend of mine (thank you Stefan!) played me 'Bandoiler' from 1975. It wasn't the heavy side of their music that sucked me in, but rather the gentle side. Songs like 'Slipaway' are beautiful. And the majestic 'Napoleon Bona-Part 1 & 2' showcased dynamics that a lot of their peers simply didn't have. Since then I have rather impressive BUDGIE section. Their softer side remains my favorite part of their music. 'Everything In My Heart', 'You And I', 'Make Me Happy', 'Young Is A World' and so on. Burke had a jazzy quality to his voice as well as the ability to scream like the best of them. I think he was a big fan of Paul McCartney, or at least that's what I hear.

"We recorded 2 albums at the Rockfield studio in Monmouth/Wales, which was kind of the go-to studio for BUDGIE. I remember waiting for them to drop by, but they never did. Why would they? Childish dreams on my behalf. So I've never met them unfortunately. I did however manage to see them live twice, and they're fantastic!

"Thank you Burke, for all your fantastic music! And our sincere condolences to the Shelley family as well as to the remaining band members, past and present."

The news of Burke's passing was shared Monday by his daughter Ela. She wrote 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 Heath 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."

Two years ago, Shelley said that he was suffering from aortic aneurysm — a dangerous and abnormal swelling of the main artery that supplies blood to the body. He was also batting Stickler syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause serious vision, hearing and joint problems. At the time, he told Wales Online that he turned down surgery because of the risk that it would cause irreparable spinal damage.

"I want to live what life I have left and not be crippled," he said. "I've got faith in God and have no worries about where I'm going. So I'll just go when He decides to take me and, in the meantime, I'll carry on doing what I want to do. Simple as that."

Shelley said the surgery he had in 2010 for aortic aneurysm resulted in damage to his diaphragm, leaving him unable to sing properly.

Often thought of as a cross between BLACK SABBATH and RUSH, the underappreciated outfit has influenced countless acts, despite enduring countless line-up shifts throughout their history.

The group originally formed in 1967 in Cardiff, Wales, comprised of Shelley (vocals, bass),Tony Bourge (guitar) and Ray Phillips (drums),and by the early 1970s they'd inked a deal with MCA Records.

This early lineup remains BUDGIE's most definitive, due to the fact that it spawned three of the group's finest albums — 1971's self-titled debut, 1972's "Squawk" and 1973's "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" — while the group's quirky song titles became somewhat of a trademark for the trio (such ditties as "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman", "Hot As A Docker's Armpit", "In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand" and "You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk").

Despite building a sizeable following in their homeland (while never breaking out of cult status stateside),Phillips left the group prior to their fourth album, 1974's "In For the Kill!", replaced by newcomer Pete Boot, which would in turn set off a flurry of steady lineup changes over the years for the group (the only constant BUDGIE member from the beginning was Shelley). Further releases were issued throughout the '70s, including 1975's "Bandolier".

Shelley and company would remain together for a few more years before splitting up quietly by the mid-'80s. But almost as soon as they disbanded, several high-profile groups began covering BUDGIE classics, including METALLICA ("Crash Course In Brain Surgery" and "Breadfan"),IRON MAIDEN ("I Can't See My Feelings"),while back in their early club days VAN HALEN was known to cover the title track from "In For The Kill!"

I almost choked on my coffee this morning when I read that one of my idols, the great Burke Shelley of Budgie had passed...

Posted by Opeth on Tuesday, January 11, 2022

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