News

Dave Greenfield dies aged 71

Dave Greenfield, far left

The Stranglers‘ keyboard player Dave Greenfield has died after contracting COVID-19 while being in hospital for an existing heart condition.

The musician’s memorable contribution to ‘Golden Brown’ helped make the song the band’s biggest hit single in early 1982.

Hugh Cornwell remembered him yesterday, calling him “the difference between The Stranglers and every other punk band,” adding that “His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band.”

Cornwell left The Stranglers in 1990 but the band continued without him. Their last album was Giants from 2012, although they continued to tour. I wasn’t lucky enough to see The Stranglers play live, although they were all there in the flesh in the Top Of The Pops studio to perform ‘Skin Deep’ when I was in the audience in early October 1984.

Dave is sadly one of a number of musicians to have died as a result of COVID-19 including The Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, John Prine and bass player Matthew Seligman. Rest in peace.

37 responses to Dave Greenfield dies aged 71

  1. Sad news , . His style was one of a kind, Most pre – electro pop keyboard players, did either prog rock, garth hudson or rhythm and blues. But his sound combined Ray Manzarek with Sam the Sham, and made The Stranglers sound unique. I only saw them once in May 76 supporting Patti Smith at the Roundhouse. i wasn’t an avid fan of the Stranglers, after the first LP, i only bought their singles But Hanging Around brings London in 1977 back to me like no other song . Goodbye Dave .

  2. Nice'un, Sleazy says:

    The Raven was one of my first LPs, in 1979. I first saw The Stranglers at Showering’s Pavillion, Shepton Mallet, for Aural Sculpture in 1984, saw them loads of times since, and for the last time at Cardiff supporting Alice Cooper in 2019 – when it was brilliant to hear Dave Greenfield’s sound back near the fore where it belonged. Hugh Cornwell’s short quote in the original article was touching and quite true.

  3. richard crook says:

    RIP Dagenham Dave. Down In The Sewer been on full blast since news of your passing. Thanks for the music and the memories

  4. Beechlander says:

    Like Hugh Cornwell said he made The Stranglers different from the rest. A very influential, varied but under-rated band that never seem to get the kudos other post-punks seem to get in the press/TV rockumentaries. Going from the snarl of “No More Heroes” to the gentle textures of “Golden Brown” showed how versatile they were. My vinyl copy of “Rattus Norvegicus” will be played in tribute tonight. Sad to hear Florian Schneider has also died today – RIP.

  5. John McCann' says:

    Well looks like its down to steve stranges old mucker to carry the strangler’s name on, now that jet black doesn’t really tour anymore thru ill health?

  6. Wayne Olsen says:

    Tragic. Rest In Peace.

  7. Raymond F says:

    The album Feline remains one my favorite Stranglers’ records ever. The keyboards on that are what hooked me to buy it back in 1983. Condolences to his family & friends.

  8. Kenneth Tilley says:

    really sad about Dave’s passing. i was lucky enough to see them live a few times, the best gig i saw them at was at the hope and anchor pub in islington, late 70’s. it was only about a £1 to get in. they were brilliant every time i saw them.
    thanks for the music and all the good times Dave, rest in peace mate

  9. Dave B says:

    Sometimes it’s impossible to imagine a band being able to carry on after the loss of a key member, their contribution was so great. And sometimes you hope that they don’t. For me, this is one of those times.

    When I think of irreplaceable keyboard players; players that were absolutely central and critical to the collective sound created by great bands, Dave Greenfield is – alongside Richard Wright in Pink Floyd and Mick MacNeill in Simple Minds – 100% on that list.

    “Golden Brown” is one of the greatest pieces of recorded music from the post punk era IMHO.
    I suspect it will outlive us all.

    Condolences to his family and friends.

  10. john millington says:

    very sad news a great band proper box sets needed the first six

  11. WILLIAM ENGLAND says:

    …the most sobering realisation is that “punks” are now in their seventies…
    I forget that, just like us, they age…
    When I think of say, Mick Jagger, my mental picture of him is of him in his early 20s, same with Pete Townshend and Macca will forever be a “moptop” (I do this with friends as well – you know, people that you’ve known since school – they’re the same person and the same age as they were then – I then remember that I have an OAP bus pass). Bah!

    • Dr Volume says:

      To be fair, Stranglers had been around the block a few times before Punk came came along, especially Jet Black who has a good few years on Macca and Townshend at the grand age of 81. Johnny Rotten does qualify for his bus pass though. 71 doesn’t seem old these days really.

    • John McCann'. says:

      Don’t use your bus pass at the moment William or theirs a good chance you’ll be meeting dave sooner than you think!

  12. bruno says:

    The Stranglers are a massively underrated band with 2 massively underrated virtuosos. Dave was key to it all with JJ. They were the first band to capture my imagination and I have seen them many times over the last 35 years. Luckily I saw them in November when they came to Germany for the first time in many years. Dave was amazing – signature down in one with the pint during the No More Heroes. What a trooper ! He will be so sorely missed.

  13. Paul Taylor says:

    Saw them for the final time last October supporting Alice Cooper in Aberdeen. I had seen them a few times between 1981 & 1983, but this was the first I’d seen them with Baz. As others have said here already, The Stranglers’ sound was very much down to Dave’s keyboards and JJ’s bass. Baz Warne certainly filled big shoes, but close your eyes and you’re back in the 70s. I was hoping to see them headlining in their own right later in the year but can’t see them carrying on without Dave, certainly if they were contemplating retirement anyway. RIP

    • Marc B says:

      The Stranglers were the first major artist I saw back in 1979 and have seen them many times over the years, including the last tour. Was lucky enough to meet the band, including Dave, on a number of occasions – always a gentlemen and will be very much missed.

  14. Bart C says:

    The Stranglers have been one of my favorite bands from the first time that I heard them. Dave’s keyboards were the main ingredient that drew me to the band.

    RIP Dave, you will be missed!

  15. Guy says:

    I was mesmerised by Dave Greenfield’s keyboards right from their first single, Grip.

    What I love about The Stranglers was their ability to mutate their sound for each album, writing stuff that took a different direction from the mainstream. It didn’t often pay off commercially but one really did – their best known track and biggest hit, getting to no.2, Golden Brown, about heroin it seems…. DG wrote the waltz melody in 6/8 time (not that I know what that means, but it’s not an easy rhythm to follow) and played it on a harpsichord. How punk was that!

    I’ve seen them 30 or 40 times since the 70s and they were due to play two near-sold out gigs in London’s Brixton Academy in November as part of a final tour which I can’t see going ahead now. Even if they wanted to carry on, they’d never find anyone good enough to replace him. His keyboards defined The Stranglers.

    RIP to a musical genius.

  16. John Berry says:

    RIP Dave Greenfield. The Stranglers were a crack live outfit, saw them in 1977, Bristol Exhibition Centre . A persistent “gobber” in the audience ignored Hugh Cornwell’s warnings to stop. Famously, Jean Jacques Burnell was a karate black belt; he didn’t use his martial arts chops, just leapt into the audience and decked the punter with his bass.

  17. Liam Bastick says:

    I was lucky enough to see them recently in Melbourne. Maybe older and greyer (aren’t we all?), there was plenty of life in them then. Never mind the punk era, they were an important band of the New Wave era too. RIP Dave Greenfield, you Wizard of Aus.

  18. Andy Ketley says:

    His performance on the full version cover of ‘Walk on By’ is a great example of hearing his keyboard skills.

  19. NightFlight says:

    I was never a punk, but saw The Stranglers many times in the ’80s & ’90s. They had a sophisticated musical originality which Dave Greenfield brought through keyboards & synths and great songwriting. Combined with the raw punk aesthetic, it was a powerful & potent combination. RIP.

  20. DaveM says:

    Very sad news. I was late to the party with the Stranglers, always admired their singles, but it wasn’t until I heard the singles from Aural Sculpture that made me go out and buy that album. Wow, it is still one of my all time favourites. Over the years I bought Rattus through to 10 and was blown away by just how many classic albums they had made. Their genius was being able to morph and change styles, mix the dark and weird with killer hooks and at the same time be first class musicians. One of the best British bands ever.

  21. Mike says:

    One of his big influence was also 60’s Belgian keyboard player André Brasseur who enjoyed a revival these last years.

  22. kid992 says:

    People didn’t like punk bands because they couldn’t play. Punks didn’t like the Stranglers because they could play. Of course a lot of punks could play but Dave Greenfield could have played anything. Great band live and a peerless run of singles(only matched by Buzzcocks and The Jam)
    Was lucky enough to meet him in the pub next to the Marquee before a Purple Helmets gig , spent all afternoon drinking with him and a mate, talking about how he had got his pilots license, his local pub in Cambridgeshire…. We must have had about five pints. Then he walked next door and played the gig! What a lovely man.

  23. Simonf says:

    I echo what everyone else here is saying; Dave’s keyboards really made the Stranglers stand out amongst the many other 3 chord wonders at the time, and those first three albums, Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black And White are essential to anyone’s record collection.
    RIP Dave Greenfield.

    • Woodsey Niles says:

      So sad to see him go. The Stranglers were always standouts of the punk era. My favorite performance by Greenfield was on the Stranglers extended cover version of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By”. His rippling arpeggios were beautiful. A most unlikely cover version but it worked.

  24. adam shaw says:

    Daves keyboard solo on Nice n Sleazy sold the record for me .
    Great musician .

  25. Martin says:

    Really sad news and more poignant for only the fact that Duchess popped up on a playlist last night – Weird

    Great keyboardist and as a band they merged the pub scene and punk brilliantly and were my main go to band in the late 70’s

  26. Rare Glam says:

    For me, Dave Greenfield’s keyboard playing was what made keyboards cool (and maybe Billy Curry in the John Foxx version of Ultravox!) . Before that they were largely the province of progressive rock bands. I remember seeing the Stranglers twice in 1977 as an 18 year-old punk at the Top Rank, Brighton (supported the first time by a great under rated band called London, the drummer of which went ont to be in Culture Club) and the second time by ‘Handsome’ Dick Manatoba’s band The Dictators. On both occasions. JJ Burnel’s ‘Barracuda’ bass and Greenfield’s colourful keys really impressed me. The Stranglers, though older than a lot of us at the time, managed to combine the spikey, agression of street rock with a near kaleidoscopic whirlygig of melodic keyboard sounds. Thanks for the music Dave, it mattered.

  27. Eric says:

    Very sad news… I loved the Stranglers as a teenager in the late 70s: they were a kind of bridge between Punk and what came after and a great part of the attraction was the keyboard playing of Dave Greenfield, that was of course (as frequently mentioned back then) reminiscent of Ray Manzarek’s…
    I played “No More Heroes”, “Black and White” “The Raven” constantly in those days!
    Saw them play in my hometown of Lyon in November 1979 for a mere FF 35! (approximately £4.65 today) and it was great…

  28. Jozek says:

    Such sad news. Dave Greenfield was an excellent keyboard player and brought a different twist to other punk bands at the time. Saw them live through the ‘80s my first on the post Raven tour, excellent live.

    The Stranglers were a big influence on me while at school. I really do think they are a very underrated band.

  29. cosmo castanza says:

    His distinctive keyboard was integral to The Stranglers.
    I was a huge fan as a teenager of their 70’s albums , Black And White and The Raven are two of my all time favourites.
    His sound crashes through the song Tank …..like erm a Tank .
    RIP Mr Greenfield.

  30. GB says:

    Very sad news – The Stranglers were one of my favourite bands in my youth, and their early albums were an essential listen at the time (No More Heroes was one of my first ‘real’ album purchases). We even persuaded one of our teachers to take a minibus to the Portsmouth Guildhall to see them on the La Folie tour which was an amazing early concert experience for me. Saw them last a few years ago in Bristol as part of the Harbourside concert series. Hugh Cornwell had left many years prior of course, but Dave Greenfield was there, working his magic unassumingly on the side and underpinning their unique sound. A great musician who will be sorely missed … RIP Dave.

  31. Eric says:

    A great loss for music. His distinctive style made the Stranglers very unique & they had many great songs

    RIP Mr Greenfield. Love to his family & fans, very sad news.

  32. Shaun says:

    RIP. Another part of my youth gone. The first Stranglers album is a classic and was the soundtrack to the summer of 1977.

  33. Dagenham Dave says:

    I saw The Stranglers in concert a number of times – last time was around 30 years ago at the Brixton Academy.

    A great band who due to Dave Greenfield’s keyboard wizardry had a truly unique sound amongst all the bands that came from the punk and new wave movement..

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