Happy Birthday (Burnel 21 February, Greenfield 29 March, Black 26 August, Cornwell 28 August)

Feb. 21 – J.J. Burnel, Ace Of Bass!

ON  BY DAVE

He’s 66 but he could still kick your butt- and mine! Happy birthday to the under-rated bassist J.J. Burnel of The Stranglers. Other punk acts have racked up more critical acclaim than “The Men In Black” but few have sold as many records and none have outlived Burnel’s band. Burnel, guitarist Hugh Cornwell and keyboardist Dave Greenfield started The Stranglers (with drummer Jet Black, the owner of a bar they played at in the earliest days, added in soon) way back in 1974 and they’re still going to this day. Burnel’s inventive and thundering basslines have always been distinctive and big in the mix setting the band apart from most of their contemporaries; since Cornwell’s departure in 1990 J.J.’s also become the “face” of the group and frequent lead vocalist.

Burnel was born in London and studied history at university there, but his parents were from France (hence the name Jean-Jacques) so he’s proficient in French and one of his two solo albums was in that language, as was the languid Stranglers single “La Folie” that he penned. Burnel was influenced by John Entwistle (“’My Generation’ – that bassline! I thought that was bloody cool!” he recalls) and Jack Bruce of Cream as a young bassist. In turn, his style and sound – in part created by rips in the cones of his Marshall speakers that creates a bit of distortion- have influenced a number of post-punk acts and artists like Peter Hook of New Order. While he’s not had the accolades of Entwistle, or the more widely-known Sting or Paul McCartney, his talent is undeniable and Music Radar said he can “only be rivalled by The Jam’s Bruce Foxton as the new wave bass hero.” Burnel notes “we’re starting to get (credit) when we’re in the autumn of our careers.” He calls the band a “bunch of old farts” who are “not selling anything, just a good time I hope.” Fans obviously agree, although their string of UK top 10 hits is years in the past, their 2014 Giants tour was the most successful of any British tour that year!

Burnel had the reputation of being a rather hot-headed, mean character when he was young but now comes across as rather easy-going and humorous. Which is a good thing, because you can also refer to him as “Kyoshi”- an honorary term for advanced Black Belt students of karate. He’s the head of Shidokan UK and considered one of Europe’s top practisioners of the discipline.

February 21 – Burnel, Master Of The Booming Bass…And Karate

ON  BY DAVE

He’s 67 but he could still kick your butt- and mine! Happy birthday to the under-rated bassist J.J. Burnel of The Stranglers. Other punk acts have racked up more critical acclaim than “The Men In Black” but few have sold as many records and none have outlived Burnel’s band. And now, over 40 years on, make no mistake about it, it is Burnel’s band. And while the man who now talks easily about Philippine and Turkish political situations and cites Debusy as a musical influence may seem a lifetime away from the one who put out ditties about walking on the beaches, looking at all the “Peaches”, his booming bass licks and determination to do things their own way are two hallmarks that The Stranglers have never veered from.

Burnel, guitarist Hugh Cornwell and keyboardist Dave Greenfield started The Stranglers (with drummer Jet Black, the owner of a bar they played at in the earliest days, added in soon) way back in 1974 and they’re still going to this day. Burnel’s inventive and thundering basslines have always been distinctive and set the band apart from most of their contemporaries; since Cornwell’s departure in 1990, J.J.’ also become the “face” of the group and frequent lead vocalist.

Burnel was born in London and studied history at university there, but his parents were from France (hence the name Jean-Jacques) so he’s proficient in French and one of his two solo albums was in that language, as was the languid Stranglers single “La Folie” that he penned. Burnel was influenced by John Entwistle (“’My Generation’ – that bassline! I thought that was bloody cool!” he recalls) and Jack Bruce of Cream as a young bassist. In turn, his style and sound – in part created by rips in the cones of his Marshall speakers that creates a bit of distortion- have influenced a number of post-punk acts and artists like Peter Hook of New Order and Bruce Foxton of The Jam. While he’s not had the accolades of Entwistle, or the more widely-known Sting or Paul McCartney, his talent is undeniable and Music Radar said he can “only be rivaled by The Jam’s Bruce Foxton as the new wave bass hero.” Burnel notes “we’re starting to get (credit) when we’re in the autumn of our careers.” He calls the band a “bunch of old farts” who are “not selling anything, just a good time I hope.” Fans obviously agree, although their string of UK top 10 hits is years in the past, their 2014 Giants tour was the most successful of any British tour that year! They’re about to launch yet another tour of the British Isles, working in some new material from an album due this spring. That would be their 18th studio album, which is rather extraordinary when one compares it to the output of the Sex Pistols, who were considered their contemporaries back in the late-’70s. 

J.J. told the Louder than War website they will play two or three new songs every night (acknowledging that the fans came out to hear the hits, and only about “ten” hardcore fans wanted to hear new stuff) and that “Water”, a song they heard, is “about the Arab Spring and the Middle East, the situation there and the importance of water and what happens if it runs out.” He says he largely writes songs on his bass “because there is something about the four strings that really concentrates the mind melodically and rhythmically.”  And while now 80 year old Jet Black has retired, they send him all their demos to “see what he thinks of them- it’s a matter of honor.”

Burnel had the reputation of being a rather hot-headed, mean character when he was young but now comes across as rather easy-going and humorous. Which is a good thing, because you can also refer to him as “Kyoshi”- an honorary term for advanced Black Belt students of karate. He’s the head of Shidokan UK and considered one of Europe’s top practicioners of the discipline. However, even a well-disciplined and fit person eventually has to give in to Father Time. Burnel said a few months ago “I’m creaking a bit. My body doesn’t always do the things I want it to do.” We hope it will long continue to let you play that bass, Mr. Burnel.

March 29 – The Men In Black’s Keyboard Man Hits 69

ON  BY DAVE

Happy 69th birthday to one of rock’s best, and most under-rated, keyboardists- Dave Greenfield. Greenfield was the last of the original lineup of The Stranglers to join and was perhaps the key to them lasting over 40 years. His fluency on any number of different keyboards as well as the band’s willingness to feature them so prominently set them apart from the rest of the British punk scene early on. It’s hard to miss the similarities between Dave and Ray Manzarek in sound, but Greenfield (who played in a prog rock band called Rusty Butler before) said he was only marginally aware of the Doors at the time he joined and was much more influenced by Jon Lord of Deep Purple and Rick Wakeman of Yes. Whatever his influences, he in turn influenced a new generation of British musical youth and features prominently on most of his band’s hit singles. Although he’s used a host of different synthesizers and electric pianos on stage and in the studio, he says he still favors the old Hammond organ. Typical of the band, Greenfield’s personna hardly fits their image. For years he had an outrageously “uncool” “pudding bowl” haircut, he says the worst part of band life is hitting rush hour traffic when leaving the studio and when he travels, he likes to have a book of crosswords to keep him busy.

Aug. 26 – Jet’s Almost Old Enough To Be A Sopwith Camel

ON  BY DAVE

Happy birthday, ol’ boy! Jet Black of the Stranglers turns 80 today- yes, 80! Black was born Brian Duffy and did some jazz drumming before rock & roll was even a thing. By the early-’70s, he was running a chain of ice cream trucks and a bar in Guildford, England. It just happened that that place, the Jackpot, was where Hugh Cornwell, JJ Burnel and Dave Greenfield were playing. Burnel was a superb bassist (also a guitarist but he ceded that responsibility to Cornwell), Cornwell had the requisite gruff voice and Greenfield was one of the best keyboardists around.  All they needed was a drummer- and presto, Duffy was in and the Stranglers were a go. They even had a tour van – one of his ice cream trucks!

Jet Black has officially been their drummer for the 40+ years but health complications from a heart condition and diabetes have taken him out of the picture lately for live shows. In 2014, Music Radar ranked him as the 13th greatest punk drummer ever, although he noted in their brief interview with him “we weren’t playing punk (in the early years) because we didn’t know what punk was. It hadn’t been invented… we were angry (because) we were finding it so difficult to make a living.” The same year his health started to wear him down a little and  he only came out for the band’s encores and he’s not on the stage for this year’s tour. Baz Warne of the band says “he’s a massive hard worker, and he’s never shirked away from anything but you just can’t cheat old age.” Black is still a member of the group in studio (they refer to him today as the “elder statesman”) and recently completed his second book about his time in one of the UK’s premier punk outfits.

Овај унос је објављен под Историја, Uncategorized. Забележите сталну везу.

Оставите одговор

Попуните детаље испод или притисните на иконицу да бисте се пријавили:

WordPress.com лого

Коментаришет користећи свој WordPress.com налог. Одјавите се /  Промени )

Google photo

Коментаришет користећи свој Google налог. Одјавите се /  Промени )

Слика на Твитеру

Коментаришет користећи свој Twitter налог. Одјавите се /  Промени )

Фејсбукова фотографија

Коментаришет користећи свој Facebook налог. Одјавите се /  Промени )

Повезивање са %s