David Paul Greenfield (March 29, 1949 – May 3, 2020) was an English keyboardist, singer and songwriter who was a member of rock band The Stranglers.
Dave Greenfield was born in the south coast seaside resort of Brighton, UK. Prior to the Stranglers, he played in local progressive rock band ‘Rusty Butler’.
The Stranglers are an English rock band who emerged via the punk rock scene and have had 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums to date in a career spanning four decades, the Stranglers are one of the longest-surviving and most “continuously successful” bands to have originated in the UK punk scene.
The Stranglers were formed as The Guildford on September 11, 1974 in Guildford, Surrey, UK and originally built a following within the mid-1970s pub rock scene. While their aggressive, no-compromise attitude had them identified by the media with the emerging UK punk rock scene that followed, their idiosyncratic approach didn’t follow any single musical genre, and the group went on to explore a variety of musical styles, from new wave, art rock and gothic rock through to the sophisti-pop of some of their 1980s work.
The Stranglers had major mainstream success with their 1982 single “Golden Brown”, with other hits including “No More Heroes”, “Peaches”, “Always the Sun” and “Skin Deep” and the 2003 Top 40 hit “Big Thing Coming”.
The Stranglers’ early sound was driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel’s melodic bass, and Dave Greenfield’s keyboards. Their early music was also characterised by the growling vocals and sometimes misanthropic lyrics of both Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell. Over time, their work gradually grew more refined and sophisticated.
Dave Greenfield’s sound and style of playing, particularly on The Stranglers’ debut album “Rattus Norvegicus”, has frequently been compared to that of the Doors’ Ray Manzarek. The comparison was even made by Jean-Jacques Burnel who claimed that Greenfield had not even heard of the Doors at when The Stranglers started. Dave Greenfield himself said he was more influenced by the work of Rick Wakeman and Yes. He was also noted for his trademark style of playing rapid arpeggios.
On the albums “The Raven”, “The Gospel According to the Meninblack” and “Aural Sculpture”, Dave Greenfield used a Korg VC-10 vocoder. Notable instances of this include in “Genetix” when it accompanies his own vocal and during the “Gene Regulation” section underneath Hugh Cornwell’s monologue, on “Baroque Bordello” towards the end of the song, and in the song “North Winds”.
It was a piece of music written by Dave Greenfield during recording for “The Gospel According to the Meninblack”, which was originally discarded by other members of The Stranglers, that Hugh Cornwell later adapted into their biggest hit “Golden Brown”, although the band themselves did not initially see this as a potential single. In addition to its chart success, “Golden Brown” also won an Ivor Novello award.
Dave Greenfield also frequently contributed harmony backing vocals to The Stranglers songs, and sang lead vocals on a few of their early tracks, including “Dead Ringer” and “Peasant in the Big Shitty” from their album “No More Heroes”, “Do You Wanna?” from “Black and White”, “Genetix” on the album “The Raven” and “Four Horsemen” on the album “The Gospel According to the Meninblack”.
In 1981, Greenfield produced the single “Back to France” by the band Boys in Darkness.
Dave Greenfield and fellow-Strangler Jean-Jacques Burnel released a joint album in 1983, “Fire and Water (Ecoutez Vos Murs)”, used as the soundtrack for the film, “Ecoutez vos murs”, directed by Vincent Coudanne.
Dave Greenfield died on May 3, 2020, aged 71, after a long stay in hospital for heart problems, during which time he tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
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