The Stranglers Mourn Keyboardist Dave Greenfield, Dead at 71

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Dave Greenfield, via the Stranglers’ Facebook page

Dave Greenfield, the longtime keyboardist of the Stranglers, died May 3, 2020. Greenfield had been hospitalized for heart problems and tested positive for the Covid-19 virus a week ago. The rock band, hugely successful in their native England, announced his death on their Facebook page one day later. He was 71.

Greenfield’s keyboard sounds were often compared to that of the Doors’ Ray Manzarek. In their tribute, his bandmates referred to him as a musical genius.

The Stranglers wrote, in part, “We are deeply and profoundly saddened to announce the untimely passing of keyboard legend Dave Greenfield on the evening of 3 May, 2020. Following a stay in hospital for heart problems, Dave tested positive for the Covid-19 virus last Sunday but he sadly lost his battle last night. Dave had been an ever present in the band since joining in late 1975 and his keyboard wizardry was world-renowned over his 45 year career in The Stranglers. Dave was a lovable, friendly and eccentric character who always had time to chat.”

Original band member JJ Burnel called Greenfield “my great friend and musical genius.”

The band’s drummer and founding member Jet Black wrote, “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.”

The Stranglers’ original vocalist, Hugh Cornwell, wrote, “[Dave] was the difference between The Stranglers and every other punk band. His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band.”

The Stranglers were formed in 1974-75. Greenfield arrived shortly thereafter, well before their debut album, 1977’s Rattus Norvegicus, which became one of the highest selling albums of the punk era, reaching #4 on the U.K chart. In the next few years, three more releases all were Top 5 in Britain. Of their many charting singles, seven reached the U.K. Top 10.

Greenfield wrote their biggest hit, 1981’s “Golden Brown,” a song about heroin.

And while it didn’t peak as high as some of their other recordings, the Stranglers’ recorded a classic cover version of the Burt Bacharach – Hal David song, “Walk on By,” notable for Greenfield’s swirling keyboards.

Listen to the radio edit of the song

Related: The Stranglers are in our feature 10 Songs That Defined New Wave

Watch the video for the group’s highest charting hit, “Golden Brown,” which reached #2 in 1982

Greenfield was born March 29, 1949 in the coastal town of Brighton.

The Who’s Facebook page wrote, “A very sad and tragic loss. We loved The Stranglers and if you were at our Wembley show in the summer of ’79 you would have seen them as one of our support bands on that day.”

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