The Stranglers

The Stranglers were an English art-rock/New Wave band from Guildford, Surrey, that released six albums and assorted singles on United Artists between 1977 and 1982, followed by three further albums on Epic between 1984 and 1990.

Members: J.J. Burnel (bass, vocals), Jet Black (drums), Hans Wärmling (guitar, keyboards, 1974-75), Hugh Cornwell (guitar, vocals, 1974-90), Dave Greenfield (keyboards, vocals, 1975-2020)

The Stranglers assembled in early 1974 as The Guildford Stranglers. Guitarist/singer Hugh Cornwell (b. Aug. 28, 1949) had recently returned to England after a several-year stay in Sweden, where he studied biochemistry and gigged in the band Johnny Sox with several locals, including keyboardist Hans Wärmling. As a teenager, Cornwell played in a garage band called Emile and the Detectives with a pre-Fairport Richard Thompson.

The Stranglers initially used the “Guildford” prefix in ode to their stomping ground, where drummer Jet Black — aka Brian Duffy (b. Aug 26, 1938) — owned a liquor store. Black had been a jazz drummer during the late ’50s and early ’60s before breaking from music to build his business profile. After running a home brewery and a fleet of ice cream vans, he was looking to return to band life when he met the recently repatriated Cornwell.

Black and Cornwell were soon joined by Jean-Jacques Burnel (b. Feb. 21, 1952), a classically trained guitarist with an orchestral background. Since they needed a bassist, he took up the instrument. Soon thereafter, Wärmling visited England and decided to join the band. This lineup gigged for a year and cut three group-composed demos: the retro-rocker “Wasted” and the ballads “My Young Dreams” and “Strange Little Girl.”

In May 1975, Wärmling was replaced by keyboardist Dave Greenfield (March 29, 1949 — May 3, 2020), who hailed from a series of bands in the UK and Germany, including beatsters The Blue Maxi, which cut the 1970 single “Here Comes Summer.” His arrival completed the classic Stranglers lineup that would hold for 15 years.

The Stranglers gigged constantly over the next 18 months, recurrently playing the trafficked London haunts (The Nashville, The Roundhouse, The Red Cow, Hope & Anchor). In early 1976, they cut demos of several live favorites, including “Grip,” “Bitching,” “Go Buddy Go,” and “Tomorrow Was the Hereafter.” That summer, they opened select dates for Patti Smith and were drawn into the newly emerging punk/New Wave scene. In December, the band signed to United Artists.

Stranglers IV (Rattus Norvegicus) (1977)

No More Heroes (1977)

“5 Minutes” / “Rok It to the Moon” (1978)

Black and White (1978)

“Walk On By” / “Old Codger” / “Tank” (1978)

The Raven (1979)

The Gospel According to the Meninblack (1981)

La Folie (1981)

“Strange Little Girl” / “Cruel Garden” (1982)

Feline (1983)

Aural Sculpture (1984)

Dreamtime (1986)

10 (1990)


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