Twenty Things I Learned About My Favorite Punk Rock Group While Reading Peaches
JJ Burnel, Jet Black, David Greenfield and Hugh Cornwell Made Up The Band During Its Peak
Their Influence Has Been Much More Widespread Than Their Acclaim
Christmas presents sometimes may not arrive until January, and I have even experienced their arrival on my birthday in late February. Such occasions can even be more pleasing, the gift having been forgotten or by now unexpected.
Last month I found one that had first appeared on my gift list five years ago, when it was first published. For some reason no one fulfilled that particular wish, but I finally bought it for myself after stumbling upon it in the local used bookstore.
Its title is Peaches: A Chronicle of the Stranglers1974-1990, a biography of one of my favorite bands during my college years. Before reading Robert Endeacott's book I thought I knew all there was to know about the Stranglers, since I had been such a big fan that I even subscribed to the band's own Strangled magazine.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn many new things about the punk quartet, and here are twenty of the most noteworthy.
1. The punk band in their early days traveled from gig to gig in an ice cream truck left over from the former business of drummer Jet Black.
2. One of their first shows was with Graham Parker and the Rumour at the Hope & Anchor, made famous by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.
3. The quartet in 1976 played shared a bill with a band called John Mellor and the 101s, whose leader was later to become famous as Joe Strummer of the Clash.
4. New recordings of "Peaches" and "Down in the Sewer" were supervised by Ian Gomm, former Brinsley Schwartz guitarist who co-wrote Nick Lowe's hit "Cruel To Be Kind."
5. Chrissy Hynde was a regular at Stranglers gigs before she went on to form the Pretenders.
6. A prominent British music journalist once nicknamed the band "Punk Floyd" because he thought their material sounded like the Dark Side of the Moon group when Syd Barrett was in it.
7. Pete Townshend lambasted the group in Melody Maker magazine, saying "I'd be embarrassed about the big mouth in the Stranglers, let's see if he can do it for fifteen years, that's what commitment is all about."
8. Guitarist Hugh Cornwell taught biology at a college for a time.
9. The original photo intended for the No More Heroes album had to be replaced, since it showed bassist JJ Burnel lying naked on top of a replica of Leon Trotsky's tomb.
10. The Eighties new wave band A Flock of Seagulls got its name from "Toiler On the sea", a track on the Black and White album.
11. During a tour in 1978, the warm up for the Stranglers was none other than U2.
12. Hugh Cornwell spent several months of 1979 working on a side project with Captain Beefheart drummer Robert Williams.
13. The title noun in the ballad "Don't Bring Harry" is not a character, but it is in reference to heroin.
14. Cornwell's solo album Nosferatu features Mark Mothersbaugh, a founder of the new wave band Devo and future composer for many projects in Hollywood.
15. Because Cornwell was jailed for a drug offense, the band's tour of Asia was canceled and they were replaced by a little known trio known as The Police. The gigs went so well that soon Sting and his two mates would soon become household names.
16. Former Squeeze co-founder Jools Holland host the music show called The Tube, on which the Stranglers gave one of their best TV performances ever.
17. The band had considered using Marvin Gaye to produce the Aural Sculpture record, but he was shot dead by his own father before work had begun in the studio.
18. In back to back months during the summer of 1979, the Stranglers warm up first for David Bowie and later for Alice Cooper.
19. Cornwell began a career as an actor, even landing a role as Frank Sinatra in One For My Baby.
20. The band's last abut with Cornwell, simply called Ten, is supervised by Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker.