Jet Black: Original drummer for The Stranglers dies aged 84 as bandmates pay tribute to “the jet force”

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Drummer, Jet Black, who played on Ivor Novello winning single Golden Brown and was considered a driving influence in the band’s success, has died aged 84

Jet Black, the original drummer for 70s punk/new wave group The Stranglers, has died at the age of 84, the band confirmed on Thursday afternoon. The drummer, born Brian John Duffy, died peacefully at his country home in North Wales surrounded by family and friends after “years of ill health”, a statement from Black’s management team confirmed.

A founding member of the group back in 1974, the unique drumming that Black brought to the band helped establish them as part of the British new-wave revolution. Under Black’s drummership, the band achieved 23 singles appearing in the UK Singles Chart including tracks that still enjoy repeat radioplay - Peaches, No More Heroes and Golden Brown.

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It was Golden Brown that earned The Stranglers the Ivor Novello award for most performed work in 1983 and Black continued to tour with the band until announcing his retirement from performing in 2015. Ill health prevented Black from continuing with the touring schedule with bass player Jean-Jacques Burnel remarking the drummer was “on oxygen" even after drumming on slower numbers like Golden Brown”

Black had a long history of suffering with respiratory problems stemming from his childhood, with concerns over his health frequently discussed during the 2010s. When asked if the drummer would rejoin the band for a 2016 tour, Burnel said: “He can’t. We tried that last year and I don’t want him to become a freak show either. The most important thing for me is his health. If he can live a bit longer then that’s a great thing. Physically he is not in a good place at all.”

Jet Black’s death comes two years after The Stranglers’ keyboard player Dave Greenfield died at the age of 71 after testing positive for Covid. Black is survived by his wife Ava, and his two children Charlotte and Anthony.

“The jet force that launched The Stranglers”

As news of Black’s death made its way onto social media, former band members all paid tribute to their original drummer. Band manager Sil Wilcox said: “He was the Jet force that launched The Stranglers. He was the Jet force that powered the band’s determination to get heard and get noticed.”

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“Jet Black was the real deal. Astute in business, a talented drummer and an obsessive perfectionist. These are only a few of the talents of the man whom I was privileged to have as my mentor and my dear friend. I will cherish the times we planned, pranked, ate, drank and laughed on so many great nights together.”

Bass player Burnel poetically remarked on the passing, saying: “The welcoming committee has doubled. After years of ill health Jet has finally been released. He was a force of nature. An inspiration. The Stranglers would not have been if it wasn’t for him. The most erudite of men. A rebel with many causes.”

Despite a fractious relationship after leaving The Stranglers, lead singer Hugh Cornwell gave his condolences in a short post on his website: “It is with great sadness I have learnt that Jet Black has passed away. We shared a special period of our lives when we strived to become professional musicians. We were immediately drawn to one another, he had a singular sense of purpose that I identified with.”

“He threw everything in his previous life out, to dedicate himself to our common goal. Our birthdays were two days apart, so we were quite similar. The Stranglers success was founded on his determination and drive. His timing was faultless. All power to him and his legacy.”

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