Budgie (band)

Last updated

Budgie Burke Shelley Live.jpg
Burke Shelley performing with Budgie
Background information
Origin Cardiff, Wales
Genres Heavy metal, [1] [2] hard rock [2]
Years active1967–1988, 1995–1996, 1999–2010 (on hiatus)
Labels MCA, A&M, RCA, NPL
Associated acts Tredegar
Website budgie.uk.com
Members Burke Shelley
Steve Williams
Craig Goldy
Past members 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 are a Welsh rock band from Cardiff. They are described by author Garry Sharpe-Young as one of the earliest heavy metal bands and a seminal influence to many acts of that scene, [3] with fast, heavy rock (an influence on the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) and acts such as Metallica) [4] being played as early as 1971. [5] The band has been noted as "among the heaviest metal of its day". [1]

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Cardiff Capital and largest city of Wales

Cardiff is the capital of Wales and its largest city. The eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom, it is Wales's chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural institutions and Welsh media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. At the 2011 census, the unitary authority area population was estimated to be 346,090, and the wider urban area 479,000. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 21.3 million visitors in 2017. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.



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. [6] After performing several gigs in 1968, the band changed their name to Budgie the following year and recorded their first demo. [3] The band originally formed under such names as Hills Contemporary Grass and Six Ton Budgie. [7] 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". [8]

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Burke Shelley Welsh musician

John Burke Shelley is a Welsh bass guitarist and vocalist of the Welsh rock band Budgie.

Tony Bourge is a Welsh musician who was the original guitarist for the rock band Budgie. He left the band in 1978. In 1982 he joined original Budgie drummer Ray Phillips, and formed Tredegar, with future members of Cloven Hoof singer Russ North and guitarist Andy Wood.

Their debut album in strong blues-oriented hard rock lines was recorded at Rockfield Studios with Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain [9] 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, after having covered another Budgie song, "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" earlier in their career. Ray Philips left the band before the fourth album In for the Kill! was recorded and was replaced by Pete Boot. [10]

Hard rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with keyboards.

Rockfield Studios recording studio

Rockfield Studios is a recording studio just outside the village of Rockfield, Monmouthshire near Monmouth in Wales. RecordProduction.com called the studios one of the top five (recording) studios in the world.

Black Sabbath British heavy metal band

Black Sabbath were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1968, by guitarist and main songwriter Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and singer Ozzy Osbourne. Black Sabbath are often cited as pioneers of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Master of Reality (1971). The band had multiple line-up changes, with Iommi being the only constant member throughout its history.

In late 1974, the band were joined by drummer Steve Williams for the album Bandolier , for live shows promoting this album and the follow-up, If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules , the band were augmented by Welsh guitarist Myf Isaac for concert performances. Music from the 1978 LP Impeckable was featured in the 1979 film J-Men Forever (shown frequently on the USA Network's "Night Flight" television series in the 1980s) which is now a cult classic. Both Bourge and Isaac left mid 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 Wards '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".

Steve Williams, is the Welsh drummer for the Welsh rock band Budgie. He joined Budgie for the recording of the album, Bandolier, in late 1974. Williams plays Pearl drums and Paiste cymbals.

<i>Bandolier</i> (album) 1975 studio album by Budgie

Bandolier is the fifth album by Welsh rock band Budgie, released in September 1975 through MCA Records. It reached #36 in the UK and was certified Gold in 1976. The album was released in the US on A&M Records in late 1975. The cover art was created by artist Patrick Woodroffe.

<i>If I Were Brittania Id Waive the Rules</i> 1976 studio album by Budgie

If I Were Brittania I'd Waive the Rules is Budgie's sixth album, released in April 1976. The title is a pun on the concept of Britannia ruling the waves. Amusingly, the word "Britannia" is misspelled in the official title.

Burke Shelley and Steve Williams performing in 1981 Burke Shelley of Budgie, 1981.jpg
Burke Shelley and Steve Williams performing 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 support of Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz Tour. [13]

The new wave of British heavy metal was a nationwide musical movement that started in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and achieved international attention by the early 1980s. Journalist Geoff Barton coined the term in a May 1979 issue of the British music newspaper Sounds to describe the emergence of new heavy metal bands in the mid to late 1970s, during the period of punk rock's decline and the dominance of new wave music.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

The band stopped gigging in 1988. 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.

Glenn Hughes British singer-songwriter

Glenn Hughes is an English rock bassist and vocalist, best known for playing bass and performing vocals for funk rock pioneers Trapeze, the Mk. III and IV line-ups of Deep Purple, as well as briefly fronting Black Sabbath in the mid-1980s. Hughes is also known by fans as "The Voice of Rock" due to his soulful and wide ranging singing voice.

Although the group has had very little commercial success in America, they have enjoyed a strong fan 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] 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 post-Communist Poland. In 1999 the band reunited in Letchworth and officially reformed.

In 2006 Budgie undertook a thirty five date United Kingdom tour and a new album, titled You're All Living in Cuckooland , was released in the UK on 7 November that year. In 2007 they played dates in Sweden and Poland.

On 4 July 2007 Lees announced his departure from the band to concentrate on his teaching and 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 on their World Tour.

In February 2008 Craig Goldy accompanied Budgie on their first tour of Australia and has continued playing with Budgie as 'guest guitarist' for all of 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 aneurism. After surgery, he returned to Britain for recovery. [18]

On 3 March 2016, former guitarist John Thomas died at the age of 63 shortly 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. [20]

In April 2018, founder member and original drummer Ray Phillips released his autobiography. [21]

Musical style and legacy

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.

A Budgie tribute band called "Bandoliers" began playing shows around the UK in 2017. [30]



Budgie (band)


  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Kevin Newton – guitar
  • Ray Phillips – drums
  • Brian Goddard – guitar, backing vocals
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Ray Phillips – drums
  • Brian Goddard – guitar, backing vocals
  • Tony Bourge – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Ray Phillips – drums
  • Tony Bourge – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Tony Bourge – guitar
  • Pete Boot – drums
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Tony Bourge – guitar
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Tony Bourge – guitar
  • Steve Williams – drums
Touring musician
  • Myf Issac – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Robert 'Rob' Kendrick – guitar, backing vocals
  • Huw Lloyd-Langton – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Robert 'Rob' Kendrick – guitar, backing vocals
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • John Thomas – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • John Thomas – guitar
  • Duncan Mackay – keyboards
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • John Thomas – guitar
Touring Musician
  • Lindsey Bridgewater – keyboards
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • John Thomas – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • John Thomas – guitar
  • Jim Simpson – drums


  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • John Thomas – guitar
  • Robert 'Congo' Jones – drums


  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • John Thomas – guitar
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Andy Hart – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Simon Lees – guitar, backing vocals
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Andy James – guitar
  • Burke Shelley – bass guitar, vocals
  • Steve Williams – drums
  • Craig Goldy – guitar


Studio albums

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

Live albums

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)

Compilation albums

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)

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  30. https://www.facebook.com/BudgieTributeBand Bandoliers (Budgie Tribute Band) - Facebook Page