Dave Greenfield — who played keyboards and sung for the U.K. punk group the Stranglers off and on since 1975 — died Sunday due to coronavirus-related complications.
“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,” the group reported in a statement. “Dave was a lovable, friendly and eccentric character who always had time to chat.” The BBC reported that Greenfield was 71 at the time of his death.
The Stranglers became a force on the U.K. punk scene in 1977 with the release of their debut LP, Rattus Norvegicus, which featured the singles “Peaches” and “(Get a) Grip (on Yourself),” the latter of which boasted Greenfield’s intricate keyboard lines. The group, which always faired well on the U.K. singles chart, earned their biggest hit in 1982 with “Golden Brown,” a tune that almost exclusively featured Greenfield’s baroque keyboard playing to complement then-guitarist and vocalist Hugh Cornwell’s lyrics. The track won the group an Ivor Novello award.
“I am very sorry to hear of the passing of Dave Greenfield,” Cornwell wrote in a Twitter thread. “He was the difference between the Stranglers and every other punk band. His musical skill and gentle nature gave an interesting twist to the band. He should be remembered as the man who gave the world the music of ‘Golden Brown.'”
“On the evening of Sunday, May 3rd my great friend and longstanding colleague of 45 years, the musical genius that was Dave Greenfield, passed away as one of the victims of the Great Pandemic of 2020,” vocalist and bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel, who is still leading the Stranglers, said in a statement. “All of us in the worldwide Stranglers’ family grieve and send our sincerest condolences to [his widow] Pam.”
“We have just lost a dear friend and music genius, and so has the whole world,” drummer Jet Black, also a member since 1974, said. “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.”
“We lost a true innovator, musical legend and one of my dearest friends today,” guitarist Baz Warne, who joined the Stranglers in 2006, said. “The word genius is bandied around far too easily in this day and age, but Dave Greenfield certainly was one. We stood together on the same side of the stage for 20 years, laughed, joked and shared our lives in the way that only bandmates can. I’ll miss him forever. Our thoughts and hearts are with his wife Pam, and to the millions of fans who worshipped at his altar, he’ll never be equaled.”
The Stranglers put out their 17th and most recent LP, Giants, in 2012. The band recently announced that it had to reschedule its planned tour dates in May due to the pandemic. Currently, it’s scheduled to play a show in France in early June.
After the news of Greenfield’s death broke, Pixies frontman and Stranglers fan Black Francis tweeted, “Long live the Stranglers.”