Jet Black performing with The Stranglers at the 2006 Bestival
|Birth name||Brian John Duffy|
|Also known as||Jet Black|
|Born||26 August 1938|
|Origin||Ilford, Essex, England|
|Genres||Jazz, punk, New Wave|
|Occupations||Professional drummer; electronic drum programmer|
|Years active||Early 1970s–present|
|Labels||EMI (as per The Stranglers)|
|Associated acts||The Stranglers|
Black was a successful businessman up until the mid-1970s, owning a fleet of ice cream vans, and an off-licence in Guildford, called 'The Jackpot'. This establishment was the base for the early Stranglers. He was also the owner of one of the earliest home brewing equipment companies, at the time of a vogue in home brewing.
He became a full-time professional musician in the mid-1970s and met Hugh Cornwell of band Johnny Sox after reading an advertisement in the Melody Maker magazine. Cornwell joined Black in The Stranglers in 1974.
His style is usually simple and jazz-influenced, although "Duchess" and "Down in the Sewer" are examples of Stranglers songs that feature more frantic drumming. In the mid-1980s, Black elected to cease playing acoustic drums in the recording studio and used a Simmons kit triggered by pick-ups, most notably on the Feline and Aural Sculpture albums. Black is still currently drumming for The Stranglers, despite his advancing years. His name is frequently chanted by the crowd at concerts.
Speaking ahead of their 2008/2009 tour, Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel said: "None of us are getting any younger but our drummer, Jet Black, is 70 now so I don't know how much longer he's going to want to carry on. I mean, he was always a lot older than the rest of the band but I don't think we'd carry on without him." However, in October 2009, it was announced that the band (featuring Black) would embark on a 16-date tour in February and March 2010. Talk of his retirement abated and a full UK tour took place starting in March 2011.
Views on The Stranglers
He wrote a short book, Much Ado About Nothing, which detailed the riots in France which were blamed on The Stranglers' presence in 1981, and also wrote a book in 2010 entitled Seven Days In Nice about the same subject.
During a long career in music, Black, like many other drummers, became aware of certain practical limitations inherent in the basic kit design and set about addressing the issue in the form of the now patented 'Jet Black Power Bass Drum Pedal'. This has brought new freedoms of comfort and technical feasibility to drummers. The 'Jet Black Power Bass Drum Pedal' enables the bass drum to be placed anywhere and yet remain playable.
Health and gig absences
In March 2007, it was announced on The Stranglers' website that Black was suffering from atrial fibrillation and consequently refrained from appearing with the band until he had recovered. He played a full Stranglers concert in early June and regularly played with the band again, although he was unable to travel very long distances at that time.
In mid-2008, he was absent from several Stranglers gigs. It was shortly thereafter announced that he was suffering from chest problems and was "not rushing back to work" on the advice of his doctor. In September 2008, he returned to full rehearsals and began touring with the band on 13 October.
On 12 March 2012, Black was taken to hospital after "falling ill" shortly before a Stranglers concert at the O2 Academy Oxford. He was again replaced by Barnard during the gig. The Stranglers announced the following day that he was taken to hospital via ambulance after feeling unwell shortly after the band's soundcheck. The illness was confirmed to be a "severe chest infection" but that Black intends to rejoin the tour when he is "fit and able". He did not rejoin the tour due to a slow recovery.
The Stranglers' annual tour began in March 2013, with Black playing the second half of the opening night set, drumming on 10 songs beginning with the distinctive Genetix drum intro. Drummer Jim Macaulay played the first half of the set on a separate, smaller drum kit.
Black did not feature at some subsequent gigs, but played half of the band's set at others where stage space would allow for the positioning of two drum kits.
Jean-Jacques Burnel said ahead of the band's Leeds gig: "He's had a few health problems in recent years, but he’s really up for the tour, although he probably won’t be at every gig, or doing the full set."
His second wife, Helena, left him following several arguments over The Stranglers rehearsing in their home during the early days of the band.
He has apparently had no contact with former Stranglers singer Hugh Cornwell since he left the band in 1990. According to Cornwell's 2004 autobiography, when he telephoned Black to announce his resignation, the latter's response was simply "OK, fine."
- "August Birthdays And Deaths, Musician Birthdates, Celebrity Deaths". Bittersuiteband.com. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- "The Stranglers". Multinet.no. 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
- Top of the Pops 2 - Where Are They Now?
- Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) - The Stranglers.(News)
- The Stranglers prepare for Weyfest - GetReading.co.uk
- Virgin Radio - Stranglers biography
- TRIBUTE - THE STRANGLERS: The stranglers' timeline.(Chronology) - Music Week
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- Access My Library - TRIBUTE - THE STRANGLERS: The stranglers' timeline.(Chronology)
- BBC Music - 'Norfolk Coast' review
- Review: The Stranglers @ Academy, Manchester - The Citizen
- The Stranglers Liverpool O2 Academy - Music-News.com
- The Stranglers - Norwich Evening News 24
- 'Stranglers tour could be their last' - Hull Daily Mail: 23 October 2008
- The Stranglers announce UK tour and ticket details - - The NME
- The Raven album (2001 CD re-release) sleeve notes
- THE STRANGLERS Much Ado About Nothing - EIL.com
- Patent Storm - system for remotely playing a percussion musical instrument
- Business fund for bright ideas - BBC News Online: Sci/Tech
- Concert Review: The Stranglers and Blondie - The Jerusalem Post
- Sex Pistols at Isle of Wight: More parent than punk - Daily Telegraph
- String of hits to make gig golden - Birmingham Mail
- Rock star hospitalised before concert - Oxford Mail newspaper
- News about Jet - Stranglers Official Site
- Gig preview: The Stranglers, 02 Academy, Leeds - Yorkshire Evening Post
- The Economist - The internet and politics: Semi-connected
- Hugh Cornwell - A Multitude of Sins - ISBN 0-00-719325-4
- Twenty years of endless Strangling - The Independent
- The Great Rock Discography - 5th Edition - ISBN 1-84195-017-3
- Guinness Rockopedia - ISBN 0-85112-072-5
- Jet Black interview for The Burning Up Times Issue 3 at www.strangled.co.uk
- The Stranglers officials website