Dave Greenfield RIP

by stephenpalmersf

One day in 1977, when I was about half way through my teen years, I walked past the radio in the kitchen of my house to hear an extraordinary piece of music. I halted, mesmerised. I had to listen to the rest of the song, whose rippling, haunting keyboard sound transfixed me. That song was 5 Minutes by The Stranglers.

Today we learned that Dave Greenfield, The Stranglers’ gifted keyboards and synth player, has died of Covid-19. Alas… for it turned out that 5 Minutes and the two incredible albums it represented – Stranglers IV and No More Heroes – was just the beginning of an extraordinary musical career, whose highlight, Black & White, remains for me one of the ten greatest albums ever recorded – forty two years on and still sounds futuristic. When Andrew Hook asked me to contribute to the punkPunk! anthology, I knew I had to write a story inspired by that unique LP.

Peel was a fan, of course, and supported them even through major sonic changes. I remember him say after playing the track The Raven: “The Stranglers… of course.” As the years went by their style and focus changed, yet they kept their core: great melodic songs, clever lyrics, world concerns. Dave Greenfield remained central to the sound, though his overdriven Rhodes passed into history.

I saw them live at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1982 on the Meninblack tour. You had to wear black to attend a Stranglers gig, and I had nothing black except jeans and shoes, so I borrowed a leather jacket from my friend Dave Nye. Thus attired, I took the train from Egham to London for one of the highlights of my young life. It was incredibly loud and incredibly exciting. It was just incredible. I stood to the right of the stage about half way back, and, afterwards, getting a bus back to Waterloo Station, I realised I’d gone deaf in my right ear. Ah, great times!

I was unable to listen to anything after Hugh Cornwell departed. Many Stranglers-worshipping fans have recommended newer albums, but for me the original quartet is inviolate. Dave Greenfield somehow represented that futuristic, exotic, hypnotising, almost SF quality of the band, especially with his early keyboard sound. He leaves an amazing legacy.

All things must pass, even, in the end, our own memories. The music however lives on.

dave g