Howard Devoto

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Howard Devoto
Howard devoto.jpg
Background information
Birth nameHoward Andrew Trafford
Also known asHoward Devoto
Born (1952-03-15) 15 March 1952 (age 67)
Origin Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
Genres Punk rock, post-punk, synthpop, new wave, electronic
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, guitars
Years active1976–present
Labels New Hormones, Virgin, I.R.S., EMI
Associated acts Buzzcocks, Magazine, Luxuria, ShelleyDevoto, Mansun

Howard Devoto (born Howard Andrew Trafford 15 March 1952 [1] ) is an English singer and songwriter, who began his career as the frontman for the punk rock band Buzzcocks, but then left to form Magazine, one of the first post-punk bands.[ citation needed ] After Magazine, he went solo and later formed indie band Luxuria.

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels.

Buzzcocks British punk rock band

Buzzcocks are an English punk rock band formed in Bolton, England in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto. They are regarded as a seminal influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, power pop, and pop punk. They achieved commercial success with singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. These singles were collected on Singles Going Steady, described by critic Ned Raggett as a "punk masterpiece".

Magazine (band) English rock band

Magazine were an English post-punk band active from 1977 to 1981, then again from 2009 to 2011. The band was formed by Howard Devoto after leaving punk band Buzzcocks in early 1977. Devoto had decided to create a more progressive and less "traditional" rock band.


His singing has been characterized as a "speak-sing voice that veered between amused croon and panicked yelp." [2]


Born in Scunthorpe, [3] [4] Devoto grew up in Nuneaton, Warwickshire [5] and Moortown, Leeds, [6] where he attended Leeds Grammar School and met and befriended future Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon. [7] In 1972, he went to Bolton Institute of Technology (now the University of Bolton) to study psychology, and, later, humanities. During these college years, he met his future bandmates Pete Shelley and Ben Mandelson.

Scunthorpe town in North Lincolnshire, England

Scunthorpe is an industrial town in North Lincolnshire, England. It is the administrative centre of the North Lincolnshire unitary authority, and had an estimated total resident population of 82,334 according to the 2016 census. A predominantly industrial town, Scunthorpe, the United Kingdom's largest steel processing centre, is also known as the "Industrial Garden Town". It is the third largest settlement in Lincolnshire, after Lincoln and Grimsby. The Member of Parliament for Scunthorpe is Nic Dakin (Labour).

Nuneaton town in Warwickshire, England

Nuneaton is a large town in northern Warwickshire, England. The population in 2011 was 86,552, making it the largest town in Warwickshire.

Leeds City in England

Leeds is a city in the United Kingdom, located in the county of West Yorkshire in Northern England, approximately 170 miles north of central London. Leeds has one of the most diverse economies of all the UK's main employment centres and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city. It also has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector. Leeds has the third-largest jobs total by local authority area, with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is ranked as a High Sufficiency level city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by five universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and the country's fourth largest urban economy.


Inspired by the Sex Pistols, Devoto co-formed Buzzcocks with singer/guitarist Pete Shelley in 1976. He left the band in February 1977 after only one record (the Spiral Scratch EP ) [4] and a small number of performances to form the band Magazine. [8]

Sex Pistols British punk rock band

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.

Pete Shelley English singer-songwriter

Pete Shelley was an English singer, songwriter and guitarist. He formed early punk band Buzzcocks with Howard Devoto in 1976, and became the lead singer and guitarist in 1977 when Devoto left. The group released their biggest hit "Ever Fallen in Love " in 1978. It broke up in 1981 and reformed at the end of the decade. Shelley also had a solo career; his song "Homosapien" charted in the US in 1981.

Extended play Musical recording longer than a single, but shorter than a full album

An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.


Devoto formed the post-punk band Magazine in 1977. [9] They released several critically acclaimed albums, which met with moderate commercial success, as well as minor hits such as "Shot by Both Sides" and "A Song from Under the Floorboards". Magazine reformed in February 2009, initially performing on a tour of five dates, and subsequently continued playing live and began to record new material. A studio album, No Thyself , was released in October 2011.

Post-punk is a broad type of rock music that emerged from the punk movement of the 1970s, in which artists departed from the simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock to adopt a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and diverse influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with sources including electronic music and black styles like dub, funk, and disco; novel recording and production techniques; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. These communities produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.

Shot by Both Sides 1978 single by Magazine

"Shot by Both Sides" is a song written by Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley, and performed by the English post-punk band Magazine. It was released in January 1978 as the band's first single and appeared a few months later on their debut album, Real Life. The song has been cited as a seminal work of the post-punk genre.

<i>The Correct Use of Soap</i> 1980 studio album by Magazine

The Correct Use of Soap is the third studio album by British post-punk band Magazine, released by Virgin Records in 1980. It contains some of Magazine's best-known and most popular songs, including the singles "A Song from Under the Floorboards" and "Sweetheart Contract" and their cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You ". A different version of this album was released in Canada in 1980, by then distributor Polygram Records. This version was titled An Alternative Use of Soap.

Solo years

After Magazine split in 1981 Devoto spent two years putting together a solo album with former Magazine keyboard player Dave Formula. Jerky Versions of the Dream reached No. 57 in the UK Albums Chart in August 1983, [10] and was reissued in 2007 by Virgin/EMI, featuring several tracks of bonus material.

Dave Formula British musician

Dave Formula, is an English keyboardist and film-soundtrack composer from Manchester, who played with the post-punk bands Magazine and Visage during the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s and in the "world music" band The Angel Brothers.

<i>Jerky Versions of the Dream</i> 1983 studio album by Howard Devoto

Jerky Versions of the Dream is the only solo album recorded by Howard Devoto, the original singer of Buzzcocks and Magazine. It was his only studio album, which was released at the time with two singles, "Cold Imagination" and "Rainy Season", being a short-lived solo career for Devoto, who in 1986, went to form a band alongside guitarist Noko, which later was named Luxuria.

The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and audio streaming in the United Kingdom. It was published for the first time on 22 July 1956 and is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company (OCC) on Fridays. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and published in Music Week magazine, and on the OCC website.


A collaboration on three songs with Bernard Szajner on the Brute Reason LP was released on Island Records in 1983. This was followed by a rendering of Big Star's "Holocaust" for the loose collective This Mortal Coil. The album It'll End in Tears contained contributions from many of the 4AD label's best artists, Devoto's presence being somewhat atypical.

In 1997, Devoto wrote the lyrics to the Mansun track "Everyone Must Win", which appeared on the Closed for Business EP. A year later he collaborated again with the band, writing lyrics for and singing on "Railings", a B-side for "Being a Girl (Part One)".


One of his next projects was a 1988 collaboration with Liverpool multi-instrumentalist Noko. As Luxuria they released two albums and a music video for the single "Redneck".

For most of the 1990s, Devoto was little involved in music, earning his living by working for a photo agency. [11]

In 2001, he teamed up for the first time in twenty-five years with Buzzcocks colleague Pete Shelley and released the much-anticipated Buzzkunst under the name ShelleyDevoto. Reviews were mixed.

In 2002, Devoto had a small part in the movie 24 Hour Party People , a film about Manchester's Factory Records. In his brief cameo appearance, Devoto appears as a janitor cleaning a men's toilet while actor Martin Hancock portrays Devoto having a tryst with the wife of promoter/journalist Tony Wilson. The real-life Devoto breaks the fourth wall by addressing the camera and stating in deadpan, "I definitely don't remember this happening".

In February 2009 Magazine reformed, with former Luxuria partner Noko replacing the deceased John McGeoch on guitar.

On 9 July 2009, Devoto was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bolton for his contribution to music.

Reunion with Buzzcocks

In November 2011 it was announced he would be returning to the stage with the Buzzcocks for two special shows as part of the Buzzcocks "Back to Front" tour on 25 and 26 May 2012. These took place at the O2 Apollo in Manchester and the O2 Academy in Brixton [12]

Tributes, references and cover songs

A number of bands continue to be influenced by his work. Momus recorded the tribute song "The Most Important Man Alive" for the Bungalow Records compilation Suite 98 in 1988. Mansun have covered "Shot by Both Sides" live, and it was recorded in their fourth and final album Kleptomania . Also Radiohead and Jarvis Cocker have both covered "Shot by Both Sides". Both Ministry and Peter Murphy have covered Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me", whilst Simple Minds, Morrissey and Strange Boutique have covered Magazine's "A Song from Under the Floorboards".


For Magazine and Luxuria, see Discography of Magazine and Discography of Luxuria . This is from his solo career:

Solo discography



Chronological discography

Related Research Articles

<i>Buzzkunst</i> 2002 studio album by ShelleyDevoto

Buzzkunst is the debut studio album by UK group ShelleyDevoto. The album reunited Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, founding members of the punk group Buzzcocks and was their first collaboration since the 1970s.

Barry Adamson English rock musician

Barry Adamson is a Mercury-nominated English pop and rock musician, composer, writer, photographer and filmmaker. He came to prominence in the late 1970s as a member of the post-punk band Magazine and went on to work with Visage, The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and the electro musicians Pan Sonic. In addition to prolific solo work, Adamson has also remixed Grinderman, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Recoil and Depeche Mode. He created the seven-minute opus Useless remix for the latter band in 1997. He also worked on the soundtrack for David Lynch's surrealistic crime film Lost Highway.

ShelleyDevoto is a musical collaboration between singer Howard Devoto and singer/guitarist Pete Shelley. Both were founding members of the Buzzcocks in the mid-1970s, and ShelleyDevoto was their first collaboration in over two decades.

Luxuria were a British pop music band made up of vocalist Howard Devoto and instrumentalist Norman Fisher-Jones, aka "Noko." The band was active in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Noko is an English multi-instrumentalist musician, composer and producer, has formed and/or played with a number of bands primarily as a guitarist or bassist. In chronological order they were: Alvin the Aardvark and the Fuzzy Ants, The Umbrella, The Pete Shelley Group, The Cure, Luxuria, Apollo 440, Stealth Sonic Soul, Fast, Maximum Roach, James Maker and Noko 440, Magazine, Raw Chimp, Levyathan, SCISM, Am I Dead Yet? and The Buzzcocks.

<i>Another Music in a Different Kitchen</i> 1978 studio album by Buzzcocks

Another Music in a Different Kitchen is the debut studio album by English punk rock band Buzzcocks. It was released in March 1978, through record label United Artists. This was the third line-up of Buzzcocks, with guitarist Pete Shelley singing following the departure of original vocalist Howard Devoto and then the firing of bassist Garth Smith. It includes the hit single "I Don't Mind", which reached number 55 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1978.

<i>Modern</i> (Buzzcocks album) 1999 studio album by Buzzcocks

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<i>Magic, Murder and the Weather</i> 1981 studio album by Magazine

Magic, Murder and the Weather is the fourth studio album by English post-punk band Magazine, and their final album until the band's reformation in 2009. It was released in June 1981 by record label Virgin. One single, "About the Weather", was released from the album.

<i>Spiral Scratch</i> 1977 EP by Buzzcocks

Spiral Scratch is an EP and the debut release by English punk rock band Buzzcocks. It was released on 29 January 1977. It is one of the earliest releases by a British punk band. The EP is the only Buzzcocks studio release to feature original singer Howard Devoto, who left shortly after its release to form one of the first post-punk bands, Magazine.

Orgasm Addict 1978 single by Buzzcocks

"Orgasm Addict'" is a song by the English punk rock band Buzzcocks. It was the A-side of the Buzzcocks' first single, with "Whatever Happened To...?" as the B-side, which was released on 4 November 1977 by record label United Artists.

Garth Smith and sometimes credited as Garth, was known for being one of the bassists of the Bolton formed punk rock band, Buzzcocks.

<i>After the Fact</i> (album) 1982 compilation album by Magazine

After the Fact is the first compilation album released by English post-punk band Magazine. It was released as a vinyl LP in 1982 by I.R.S. Records in the United States and Virgin Records (International), ), following the dissolution of the band in late 1981. The compilation drew from tracks from each of the band's studio albums and several singles. The artwork was created by Malcolm Garrett with liner notes by Paul Morley.

<i>No Thyself</i> 2011 studio album by Magazine

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  1. "Enciclopedia della musica rock", Cesare Rizzi. HOWARD DEVOTO (HOWARD TRAFFORD) (15 marzo 1952): voce
  2. Dave Simpson (20 October 2011). "Magazine: No Thyself – review | Music". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  3. "Avanti fanzine - Issue no 1 from 1988, interview with Howard Devoto". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008.
  4. 1 2 "Event Review: An Evening with Buzzcocks, Urbis Manchester 12 Aug 2005". Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  5. Graham Johnston. "Clicks and Klangs". Archived from the original on 1 July 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  6. Dave Simpson (12 December 2008). "Howard Devoto on why it's the right time for a Magazine reunion | Music". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  7. Savage, John. England's Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond, Pg. 153, St. Martin's Griffin, 2001. ISBN   0-312-28822-0, ISBN   978-0-312-28822-8 "I'd known Howard from Leeds Grammar School (...)", Richard Boon
  8. "Buzzcocks Biography". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  9. "A classic debut single, 'Shot by Both Sides' established Magazine’s post-punk credentials, its stark, uncompromising approach and lyrical despair paving the way for countless gaggles of miserable young men in trenchcoats." Strong, M.C. (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 95. ISBN   1-84195-335-0.
  10. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 153. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  11. "PopMatters Music Interview | Howard Devoto: Interview with a Resurfacing Should-Have-Been Musical Legend". Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  12. "Announcement of Back To Front tour". Archived from the original on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011.