Buzzcocks were already in danger of becoming a past-tense entity by 1978. Despite only having existed for a little over a year, the band had lost co-founder and lead singer Howard Devoto after the release of their debut EP Spiral Scratch. Devoto had proclaimed his dissatisfaction with the still-nascent punk scene on ‘Boredom’, and left to form one of post-punk’s first groups, Magazine.
Guitarist Steve Shelley then took over as both creative leader and lead singer. Shelley’s voice was higher and more melodic than most punk singers, and his further devotion to power pop signalled a turn in punk’s rough and ready sensibility, creating the template for what would later become pop-punk.
However, Buzzcocks needed success in order to fully remove themselves from the stifling punk scene. Their first single on a major label, ‘Orgasm Addict’, was blacklisted from radio stations, and the band were in danger of falling off the map before they even got their second incarnation going. That’s when Shelley, watching the 1955 adaptation of Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando in the lead role, got an idea from a line of dialogue.
“We were in the Blenheim Guest House with pints of beer, sitting in the TV room half-watching Guys and Dolls,” Shelley explained shortly before his death in 2018. “One of the characters, Adelaide, is saying to Marlon Brando’s character, ‘Wait till you fall in love with someone you shouldn’t have.’ I thought, ‘fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have?’ Hmm, that’s good.”
Shelley quickly wrote ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?’ that same night, but tucked it away. By June of 1978, the band were playing the song live to rapturous receptions, and Shelley decided it was time to record the tune, nearly a year after having written it.
The song would ascend to number 12 on the UK charts, a massive coup for the band that needed momentum. The hits would keep coming after ‘Ever Fallen In Love’, but none made the impact that the Guys and Dolls-inspired tune would eventually have.
Check out one of the earliest performances of ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?’ down below.