|Guildford, Surrey, England
|Pub rock, punk rock, new wave, post-punk
|A&M, Castle Communications, EMI, Epic, Liberty, Stiff Records, United Artists
|Beatles, Velvet Underground, The Doors, Love, Music Machine, Cream, Jimi Hendrix
The Stranglers: Biography
The Stranglers are an English punk rock band who formed in Guildford, Surrey, in 1974. The band originally consisted of bassist/vocalist Jean-Jacques Burnel, keyboardist Dave Greenfield, drummer Jet Black, and guitarist/vocalist Hugh Cornwell. The Stranglers are one of the longest-surviving and most successful bands to have originated in the UK punk rock and pub rock scenes.
The Stranglers’ early sound was a mix of pub rock, punk and new wave, with influences ranging from 1960’s psychedelic rock, R&B, and the blues. Their early lyrics were often political and literate, with themes ranging from the war in Vietnam to nuclear proliferation. The band’s later material was more pop-oriented, with elements of reggae and funk mixed in.
The Stranglers released their debut album, Rattus Norvegicus in 1977. The album was a commercial and critical success, and spawned several hit singles, including “Peaches” and “(Get a) Grip [on Yourself].” The band’s next three albums, No More Heroes (1977), Black and White (1978), and The Raven (1979) were even more successful. All of The Stranglers’ first 5 albums reached the top 10 in the UK charts, establishing the band as one of the top punk/new wave acts in music history.
Throughout the 1980s, the Stranglers released a series of successful albums, including La Folie (1981), Feline (1983), and Aural Sculpture (1984). They also released two critically-acclaimed, yet somewhat less commercially successful albums in the second half of the 1980s – Dreamtime (1986) and 10 (1990).
In 1990, Hugh Cornwell left the band and was replaced by John Ellis. The Stranglers continued to tour and release new material throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s. Despite lineup changes and the passing of founding members Dave Greenfield and Jet Black, the Stranglers remain a popular and influential band, with a devoted fan base and a lasting legacy in the history of punk and new wave music.
The Stranglers: FAQs
How old are The Stranglers?
The Stranglers first registered as a business on 11 September 1974 by drummer Jet Black, though the group started earlier that year as The Guildford Stranglers. Around this time, members of the The Stranglers lived together in Jet Black’s off-license business in Guildford, named “The Jackpot”.
What was The Stranglers’ first single?
Released on 28 January 1977 on the United Artists label, The Stranglers first single was “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)”, with “London Lady” as the b-side. Both songs appeared on their debut album, Rattus Norvegicus, also in 1977. It peaked at #44 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
When did The Stranglers form?
The Stranglers officially formed on 11 September 1974. Earlier that same year they had been known as The Guildford Stranglers, before deciding to shorten their name.
Where are The Stranglers from?
The Stranglers are originally from Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom, where they formed on 11 September 1974.
Which members of The Stranglers have died?
Dave Greenfield, keyboardist, backup vocalist, and founding member of The Stranglers died on Sunday, May 3rd 2020 at the age of 71 due to complications from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Jet Black, drummer and founding member of The Stranglers died at the age of 84 on December 6th, 2022 after “years of ill health”.
Who is The Stranglers drummer?
Jet Black was the drummer for The Stranglers. He was born on 23rd August 1938 as Brian John Duffy. As of 2015, he ceased touring with the band, due to age and health-related concerns. On December 6th, 2022 Jet Black died after years of struggling with health issues. He was 84 years old.
Who manages The Stranglers?
The Stranglers are currently managed by Sil Wilcox, who has been close to the band since the 1980’s, starting out as a keyboard tech and part of their road crew before stepping into his current management role with the band.
Who wrote The Stranglers’ songs?
The Stranglers were unusual in that they had three primary songwriters: Hugh Cornwell, Jean-Jacques Burnel, and Dave Greenfield, with most tracks credited to the entire band. The majority of their hits, such as “Golden Brown”, “Strange Little Girl”, and “Skin Deep” were written by Hugh Cornwell.
What was The Stranglers original lineup?
Formed in early 1974 as The Guildford Stranglers, the band’s original lineup consisted of singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell, singer/bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel, singer/keyboardist Dave Greenfield, and drummer Jet Black.
Who was lead singer of The Stranglers?
The Stranglers have had several lead singers since their start in 1974. In chronological order they are: Hugh Cornwell (1974-1990), Paul Roberts (1990-2006), and current singer Baz Warne (guitar and backing vocals 2000-present, guitar and lead vocals 2006-present).
Why did Hugh Cornwell leave The Stranglers?
According to Hugh Cornwell, “The reason I left The Stranglers was that I didn’t want to be doing the songs by rote, exactly the same with the same people,” he said. “That’s exactly what the band are doing now, with all due respect.”
What genre are The Stranglers?
While The Stranglers started to gain widespread notoriety in the U.K. by being lumped into the then fledgling punk rock scene, they’re now widely considered to be more a New Wave/Post-Punk band.
How many records have The Stranglers sold?
According to J.J. Burnel, as of 2013 The Stranglers had sold roughly 40 million records.
Are The Stranglers punk?
What is The Stranglers song “Golden Brown” about?
According to Hugh Cornwell, “‘Golden Brown’ works on two levels. It’s about heroin and also about a girl. Essentially the lyrics describe how both provided me with pleasurable times.”
What is The Stranglers song “Skin Deep” about?
Skin Deep, from The Stranglers’ 1984 album, Aural Sculpture, is a song about superficial people who appear on the surface to be trustworthy friends, but who in reality are not. The song warns us to watch out for when they inevitably reveal their true nature.
The Stranglers Trivia
- In 1979, founding Stranglers member, and singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell wrote and recorded a solo album called Nosferatu that featured appearances by guest musicians such as Robert Williams (former Captain Beefheart drummer) Ian Underwood (former keyboardist for Frank Zappa), Ian Dury, and both Mark Mothersbaugh and Bob Mothersbaugh of DEVO.
- In 1972, Hugh Cornwell was a biochemistry student pursuing his post-graduate research in Sweden. While living abroad in Sweden, Cornwell worked at a hospital where he met Hans Wärmling, a fellow musician. Wärmling convinced Cornwell to help him put English lyrics to the massive catalog of songs he’d written, and the two became close friends. Soon, they recruited other musicians, formed the band Johnny Sox, and began playing in clubs. When Cornwell ended his studies in 1973, he decided to relocate back to the U.K., and convinced all of the members of Johnny Sox except Wärmling to accompany him. Johnny Sox then played clubs around London until mid-1974, when Jet Black was brought in to replace departing drummer “Chicago Mike”. Jean-Jacques Burnel joined up soon after, just as relations were souring between Cornwell and the other band members who’d accompanied him from Sweden, both of whom quit the band and returned home. To fill in the gaps in the fledgling band, Cornwell convinced Wärmling to come to the U.K., and he joined up again as the band’s keyboardist. It was around this time that the band changed their name to The Guildford Stranglers. However, by 1975 Wärmling had become unhappy with the musical direction of the band, and quit while the band were traveling to a gig in North London. Soon after, he was replaced by virtuoso keyboardist Dave Greenfield, who answered an advert for a keyboard player placed the magazine Melody Maker by Cornwell.
- Hans Wärmling is co-credited with writing the music for some early Stranglers tracks, including “Strange Little Girl”, which was originally written in 1974 and later re-recorded and released in 1982 as The Stranglers’ final contractual obligation to Epic records. The song eventually peaked at No. 7 on the U.K. singles chart in August of 1982.
- Bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel once punched Paul Simonon (bassist for The Clash) during a Ramones gig in 1976, resulting in a melee in a car park that included members of The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, and several of their friends against The Stranglers and their friends. According to Burnel, “In 1976, we played with the Ramones. In those days, Paul Simonon had a nervous tic: he used to spit on the ground. He did this just as we came off stage at Dingwalls in London, so I thumped him and it all kicked off. We were thrown out by the bouncers and it continued in the courtyard.”
- English disc jockey and radio presenter John Peel became an early fan of The Stranglers after seeing them support Patti Smith at the Hammersmith Odeon in October 1976. The band ended up recording two Peel Sessions, one of which was played several times on Peel’s radio show prior to the release of The Stranglers’ debut album, Rattus Norvegicus in 1977. According to Jean-Jacques Burnel, appearing on the John Peel radio show was a turning point for the band, as it increased their credibility and legitimacy in the London music scene considerably.
- John Peel was such a fan of The Stranglers that he played their third album, Black and White (1978) in full on air prior to its actual release. He also promoted solo albums by both Hugh Cornwell (Nosferatu) and J.J. Burnel (Euroman Cometh) on his radio show.
- In 1978 The Stranglers played a legendary open-air gig at London’s Battersea Park, supported by Johnny Rubbish, The Skids, and Peter Gabriel. At a recent gig the band had been joined on-stage by local strippers during the song Nice n’ Sleazy, and they apparently decided to kick things up a notch by inviting several nude dancers onto the stage during the song at the Battersea Park gig. Despite aggravating the police assigned to provide security for the show, no charges were brought against the band, their management, or the strippers for public lewdness. Footage of this performance can easily be found with an internet search (but we won’t link to it here because it may violate Google’s guidelines – never mind the irony of easily finding the video on Google).
- In May of 1978, The Stranglers embarked on an unusual press tour to promote the release of their upcoming album, Black and White. The band flew to Iceland with members of the British press in tow for a 3-day bender, and ended up playing a sold-out concert that roughly 2% of the entire population of Iceland attended. That legendary concert is credited by many for kickstarting Icelandic punk rock, as punk bands began to form and play gigs there in the months after.