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Baker's Dozen

Foundations Of Rock: Buzzcock Steve Diggle's Baker's Dozen
Stephanie Phillips , January 20th, 2021 10:40

Steve Diggle guides Stephanie Phillips through the records that shaped him, from the girl across the road who introduced him to The Beatles and Bob Dylan to the sensual allure of late era Supremes

Steve Diggle is ready to get back out there. Like the rest of us, the legendary guitarist, known for his work in seminal punk band Buzzcocks, has been hunkered down for most of the year and found the alone time to be productive. “During the summer I was writing songs because we were not doing gigs and things like that at the moment so I think I've written enough for two albums,” says Diggle, joking, “I went to the pub less and wrote more songs.”

Diggle hopes his summer songwriting stint will form the basis of a new Buzzcocks album, turning a corner for the group following the death of founding member Pete Shelley in 2018. Forming in 1976, the same year as Sex Pistols and The Clash, the Buzzcocks quickly developed their own unique voice, defined by buzzcut guitar riffs and an open embrace of pop sensibilities. To Shelley's playful quirk for transforming punk songs into arty explorations of love, Diggle's songwriting contributions brought the mischievous, snarling fury of hard rock.

Diggle speaks warmly of Shelley, stressing it was hard to lose a friend, but he also knew he had to keep the band going after he was given his blessing by Shelley a few weeks before he died. “It's been very heart-breaking a lot of ways on a personal level as well as the musical moments we've shared, but I've had to get through that myself. I'm positive now and the fans are positive and saying 'I'm glad you're keeping the Buzzcocks alive'.”

Speaking to Diggle over the phone in his North London home, he is affable and charming. Little prying is needed to tease the many stories Diggle has to tell of his life, chatting to me about the first time he heard a young Poly Styrene at the Roxy Club, knowing musicians like Kurt Cobain and Joy Division were inspired by the Buzzcocks, and being a fan of The Clash while on the road with the group during the White Riot tour.

Though he wasn't entirely sure about putting together a list of records for this article, worrying it would be seen as a “psychological profile”, Diggle was in a nostalgic mood, reflecting on the musicians he saw on TV as a child, the bands he toured with over the years, and the songs that inspired him to pick up a guitar.

BuzzBox, Buzzcocks' Complete United Artists singles 1977-1980 7” box-set is out via Domino Records on 15th January 2021. Click the image of Steve Diggle below to begin reading his Baker's Dozen