’74-’14: Forty years in photos-part 1

To mark the band’s upcoming 40th anniversary, we thought that it would be fitting to summarise the band’s lengthy career visually with a series of photos. This is the first part covering the years 1974-1990:

Listen to a 15 track selection of songs from this era here 40 years in photos-74-90


Business Registration of the band's name

Back to where it all began in Guildford where a meeting of drummer Jet Black and guitarist/singer Hugh Cornwell led to the start of a long and illustrious journey. They soon encountered a like minded soul in the form of budding bassist Jean Jacques Burnel and, along with Hugh’s ex band mate Swede Hans Warmling, the band started gigging in and around Surrey playing wherever & whenever they could secure gigs. On the 11th of September, the band regisitered their chosen moniker ‘The Stranglers’ at Companies House and the journey began…


The band's first photosession, Guildford 1975

The band continued finding their feet musically, writing songs like Strange Little Girl  and My Young Dreams and the departure of Warmling led to the recruitment of a keyboard virtuoso Dave Greenfield into their ranks. A veteran of numerous bands, Dave was the missing link in the band’s identity and the Stranglers’ sound was finally born.  The line up, which would remain stable for the next 16 years, was complete…


The band 'sign' to UA, 100 Club Dec '76

Forays out of their Surrey homeland were taken in their ailing ice cream van, the last of Jet’s fleet, and saw the band travelling far and wide in search of gigs. They came to the attention of Albion management in London, who controlled a lot of the pub rock venues in the capital. After a brief courtship, the band signed to Albion and their career started to pick up pace. ’76 saw them hone their craft playing over 250 gigs in the year and, to cap it all, they came to the attention of United Artists records that winter, signing a recording contract with them…


Returning to their roots, Hope & Anchor Nov '77

A unrelenting whirlwind of a year for the band! With the combined might of Albion and UA behind them, the year was packed with promotional work, recording in TW studios with producer Martin Rushent, building a loyal and partisan fan base and solid gigging. 1977 saw the release of two studio albums Rattus Norvegicus and No More Heroes and a string of chart singles making them the biggest selling punk/new wave act that year…


Black and White launch, Iceland May '78

Building on their firm foundations in the UK, 1978 saw the band venture to pastures new, taking their music across Europe and over the Atlantic to the USA and Canada. They also unleashed their third album Black and White on the world, with its stark and darker sound, following a press launch in the monochrome surroundings of Iceland…


Supporting The Who, Wembley Stadium Aug '79

Further forays across the globe, including visits to Australia and Japan (twice!) saw horizons, and subject matter for songs, broaden. Their position was strengthened with the release of The Raven, their fourth studio album, and continual gigging. It seemed that they were an unstoppable force and that nothing could go wrong until…


The morning after, Nice '80

The annus horriblis!  And it was all going so well… 1980 is definitely the year that the band would like to forget as they spent it lurching from one catastrophe to another. In the space of a year Hugh was imprisoned in Pentonville for pharmaceutical reasons, they had all their uninsured equipment stolen whilst in New York, they alledgedly incited students to riot at a gig in Nice University and found themselves thrown into the cockroach infested Nice jail for their trouble. It was a dark period in the band’s history but they managed to survive…


La Folie-commercial success beckons

The Phoenix rose from the ashes. The band regrouped following the unmitigated disaster the year before and got productive releasing two albums in 1981. The Bible/UFO inspired The Gospel According to The Meninblack and their tribute to love in all its forms La Folie. The Gospel… was a mild success but was a disappointing follow up to The Raven commercially. The release of La Folie, including the harpsicord infused beauty of Golden Brown, was a different story, earning huge worldwide success. They were back!


Acoustic au revoir to EMI, SLG on TOTP '82

Buoyed by the success of La Folie, the band bade farewell to UA/EMI with a swansong single Strange Little Girl -a song which the record company had rejected back in 1975!- and and career spanning compilation album. They began the search for a new home for their recording talents and soon secured a deal with Epic for the next stage of their career…


Feline photoshoot

With an enthusiastic label behind them, the band released their new studio album Feline early in the year. A new direction beckoned with the songs molding both electronic and acoustic instruments into a radical hybrid. Territories like France suddenly became receptive to the band and a whole new market opened up for them. Epic were very keen to push their new signings and lavish promo videos were filmed to spread the band’s music far and wide…


Skin Deep video shoot, 1984

After ten years of frenetic recording and gigging, the band deserved a rest and they were quiet for most of 1984. Relocating to Brussels, they recorded the follow up to Feline with new producer Laurie Latham, who suggested augmenting the band’s changing sound with a brass section. This expanded musical possibilities further for the band and the resulting album Aural Sculpture was vastly different to Rattus a decade before…


JJ breaks the black mold and goes for check!

With a new album to promote, much of 1985 was spent touring the world including a return trip to Australia. For the first time ever, they took additional musicians with them on the road. Amongst the expanded touring party were a trio of brass players and the band were even joined by backing singers for the five night run at London’s Dominion theatre…


Dreamtime-the bowler hat era

More influences and subject matter from the band’s travels around the world found their way on to the next studio release Dreamtime. Topics touched upon in the album’s tracks included solar power, French women, the Mayans, Aboriginies and the size of Americans. The album’s sound had mellowed further and even included the twang of a pedal steel guitar.


US promo shot 1987

The year was spent touring  around the world and included yet another trip to the US, a huge market that still eluded the band. An unexpected commercial boost came at the end of the year with the band charting with their first cover version since Walk On By back in 1978, the Kinks’ sixties classic All Day And All Of The Night


1988 photoshoot

Gig and recording wise, a fairly quiet year for the band although they kept busy. Both JJ and Hugh worked on solo albums that year and Dave and JJ put together and R&B covers supergroup The Purple Helmets who would see gigging activity during this quiet period for the band…


Strange photo session 1989

Another quiet year on the live front but a large part of the year was spent writing and recording the next studio album. A large UK tour was planned for September but was then postponed until the following spring as the band had to re-record the entire album as the original master tapes had been damaged.


A storm is brewing, Trafalgar Square 1990

The reworked studio album, their 10th, rather uninspiringly entitled 10,  was released in the spring during a mammoth 27 date UK tour which was followed swiftly by a trek across Europe. The live line up had now further expanded to eight with the addition of ex Vibrator John Ellis on guitar. After other summer dates, the band headlined a gig at London’s Alexandra Palace to a sold out crowd. It proved to be the last for this incarnation of the band as Hugh announced his departure soon afterwards. The ending of one era for the band and the start of next…

Part 2 to follow…