Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Joe Strummer Foundation

I’m sure everyone reading has heard of JOE STRUMMER, the legendary frontman of THE CLASH, solo artist, short-term POGUE, writer and actor. Many have had the tag ‘legendary’ attached to their name, but few deserve it more than Strummer.
What you might not have heard of is a charitable collective in East Sussex, England called JOE STRUMMER FOUNDATION. Its aim is to provide opportunities to musicians and support to projects around the world that create empowerment through music. 
This is achieved via various projects and fundraisers, the latest of which is a rather smart split digital single of CLASH tunes.
The Foundation has three main objectives, being:

  1. The prevention or relief of poverty, particularly of young people, anywhere in the world by providing: grants, items and services to individuals in need and/or charities, or other organisations working to prevent or relieve poverty.
  2. To promote, improve, develop and maintain the education of the public in the art, culture and science of music in all its aspects for the public benefit, in particular young musicians, including by the provision of funds for the purchase of musical instruments and studio rehearsal.
  3. To promote, improve and advance the arts, including music, for the public benefit including by the presentation of exhibitions, public events and concerts.
Their latest project in raising both funds and awareness is a split digital single featuring DIY stalwarts NOSEBLEED and THE ZIPHEADS, both of which cover a CLASH song. It was released on 8th May as a joint venture with Joe Strummer Foundation and Bomber Music, raising funds to support musicians in these incredibly difficult times.
You can get the digital single via Bomber’s bandcamp page with all proceeds going to the JSF, and find out more about the Foundation HERE.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Obituary - Dave Greenfield

On Sunday 3 May 2020, Dave Greenfield, keyboardist with legendary British band, THE STRANGLERS, passed away. He was aged 71. The cause of death was COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Greenfield was born David Paul Greenfield on 29 March 1949 in Brighton, England.
On leaving school, he played with various bands on American airforce bases in Germany, and also played in UK bands while working for his father’s printing business, and as a piano tuner. 
In 1970, one of his early bands, THE BLUE MAXI released a single on Major Minor Records entitled ‘Here Comes Summer’. Other early bands included prog rockers RUSTY BUTLER and CREDO.
Things changed massively when he auditioned for THE STRANGLERS in 1975 and replaced Hans Warmling as the band’s keyboardist. He stayed with the band through to his passing playing on all 17 studio albums and a multitude of live albums, be they official or otherwise.
The story of THE STRANGLERS is well documented and, it is often said the band was influenced by THE DOORS. At the time of joining the band however, Greenfield had hardly heard Morrison and co, and was said to be more influenced by Rick Wakeman of YES and DEEP PURPLES’s Jon Lord.
His most notable contribution to the band was the baroque-influenced 1982 single ‘Golden Brown’ which started off as a piece of waltz-time harpsichord music during the recording of ‘The Gospel According To The Meninblack’ album. With added lyrics, the song became a number two hit single in the UK, also winning an Ivor Novello award.
He frequently sang backing vocals for the band, and in places used a vocoder. His lead vocals can also be heard on the tracks ‘Dead Ringer’, ‘Peasant In The Big Shitty’, ‘Do You Wanna?’ and ‘Four Horseman’.
Outside of the band, Greenfield had an interest in the occult, which was evident from his wearing a pentagram in many early photos of the band.
Besides THE STRANGLERS, Greenfield released an album with the band’s bassist, Jean-Jacques Burnel, in 1983 entitled ‘Fire And Water (Ecoutez Vos Murs)’ which was used for the soundtrack to the film Ecoutez Vos Murs, directed by Vincent Coudanne. He also tried his hand at production with the 1981 single ‘Back To France’ by Boys In Darkness.
On 26 April 2020, he was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus during a stay in hospital for heart-related issues before succumbing to complications related to it on 3 May 2020. 
He is survived by his wife, Pam.

My journey on the road to a life with the music of THE STRANGLERS started either late ‘79 or mid 1980 when I saw them play ‘Duchess’ on (I imagine) Top Of The Pops. I managed to score the 7”, even though it had been out a while by that stage.  Still got it too.
I saw the band live just four times, with the most memorable event being on the ‘Dreamtime’ tour in 1986. It was in my home town of Ipswich and someone had been spitting at the band. Vocalist/ guitarist Hugh Cornwall asked them to stop, which was immediately ignored as a great phelgm-ball headed his way. Cornwall stopped the band, dived into the crowd and pulled Mr. Gobber onto the stage. The band then removed his trousers, and undies and stuff a peeled banana on his wiener before throwing him to the roadies.
The last time I saw the band was 2018 at the Auckland Town Hall here in New Zealand. The abiding memory I have of that was during the keyboard solo in ‘Walk On By’, which Greenfield played one-handed while downing a pint. On completion, and still playing one handed, he scrunched the cup and headed it away!! Biggest cheer of the night? Possibly only ‘Get A Grip’ surpassed it.
It’s without a doubt that it was Greenfield’s keyboard skills that set THE STRANGLERS apart from the rest of the Punk throng. His swirling arpeggios and dramatic swell of sound gave their music not just a greater melodic structure and even accessibility, but they also added something much darker and muscular.
It’s tragic that the very disease that prevented THE STRANGLERS completing their farewell tour should be the virus that took the life of the band’s mercurial keyboardist and one of the two pivotal members remaining.
Greenfield maybe gone, but the sound and memories of those who saw and listened to THE STRANGLERS will live forever.