R.I.P., Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers

Monday, May 4, 2020
The Stranglers

In the latest of our ongoing (even though we really, really want it to end) series of obituaries tied to the COVID-19 virus, word has reached Rhino HQ that Dave Greenfield, keyboardist for The Stranglers, has died. Although he had been in the hospital for heart problems, Greenfield contracted the coronavirus during his stay and succumbed to the illness yesterday. He was 71.

Born in Brighton, England, Greenfield had been a member of the prog-rock band Rusty Butler prior to joining The Stranglers, a fact which New Musical Express used to their amusement (if probably not Greenfield’s) in their recurring “Blackmail Material” column, but it was unquestionably The Stranglers that made the bigger mark – and then some – on the world of music. Though not a founding member of the band, Greenfield joined their ranks in 1975 and remained there until...well, yesterday, actually.

That’s right: Greenfield was one of The Stranglers for 45 years, which means that he can be heard on literally every single one of their hits, a list which includes – but is in no way limited to – “Peaches,” “Something Better Change,” “No More Heroes,”  “Golden Brown,” “Strange Little Girl,”  “European Female,” and the band’s cover of The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night,” all of which were top-10 hits in the UK. Greenfield’s keyboards caused the Stranglers’ songs to stand out in the crowd, which makes his contributions to the band both undeniable and unforgettable.

In addition to his work with the band, Greenfield also released a collaborative album with his fellow Strangler, Jean-Jacques “J.J.” Burnel, called FIRE AND WATER (ECOUTEZ VOS MURS), which was released in 1983. It was not a massive hit, but it did pop up for at least one week on the UK Albums chart, possibly because of this single, which features vocals by occasional Mike Oldfield collaborator Maggie Reilly.

"On the evening of Sunday May 3rd, my great friend and longstanding colleague of 45 years, the musical genius that was Dave Greenfield, passed away as one of the victims of the Great Pandemic of 2020,” said Burnel, per the BBC.com obit of Greenfield. "All of us in the worldwide Stranglers' family grieve and send our sincerest condolences to [his wife] Pam."

"We have just lost a dear friend and music genius, and so has the whole world,” said drummer Jet Black, who – like Burnel – was a founding member of The Stranglers and had worked alongside Greenfield since the latter joined in ’75. "Dave was a complete natural in music. Together, we toured the globe endlessly and it was clear he was adored by millions. A huge talent, a great loss, he is dearly missed."

Hugh Cornwell, longtime frontman for The Stranglers, also chimed in via Twitter to memorialize his late bandmate:

“I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dave Greenfield,” wrote Cornwell. “He was the difference between The Stranglers and every other punk band. His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band. He should be remembered as the man who gave the world the music of ‘Golden Brown.’”

Indeed, he should. R.I.P, Dave.