The new Beatles

Dear Editor,

My Stranglers Story, the Entertainment article by Mark Dobbin in the October 20 edition of The Resident was a bit thin on the ground. The writer doesn’t even appear to have met the guys.

They were an interesting bunch. I first met them in 1976 when I was working part-time for the Marquee Production Company. I answered an embarrassing ad they’d placed in Melody Maker, advertising themselves as “the new Beatles”.

The group was working in a fish and chip shop in Guildford. I was invited out the back where a room was set up with their gear. I sat on a bar stool and was given a 45 minute personal concert. The first thing that struck me was how professional they all were and how they had set up a complete musical idiom, which they were now ready to sell. I was seriously impressed.

At one point Jet Black stopped the set and said: “This is our first number one,” gave a gentle tap on the high hat of the drum kit and then they all launched into a smooth sophisticated ballad.

I was invited to their next gig at Bristol University, Hugh Cornwell’s old haunt.

Although they produced highly polished and professional material we couldn’t work out how to market the guys. They didn’t fall into what was then considered to be a marketable niche. I lost contact with them, and it was with some surprise that I listened a year later to their first release.

They’d gone punk! I could hardly recognize them. A punk band with clever lyrics, excellent musicianship and an album with a Latin title!

The Psychedelic Furs (another band your writer mentions) on the other hand had a completely different approach. For a time I knew them quite well, we shared the same pub, near to the EMI factory at the back of Hayes.

But Debbie Harry … ah, if only I’d known her.

John Clare


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