Dave Greenfield

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Dave Greenfield
Greenfield in concert with The Stranglers, Paris Olympia, 13 April 2012
Greenfield in concert with The Stranglers, Paris Olympia, 13 April 2012
Background information
Birth nameDavid Paul Greenfield
Born(1949-03-29)29 March 1949
Brighton, England
Died3 May 2020(2020-05-03) (aged 71)
GenresProgressive rock (early), Punk rock, new wave, post-punk
Instrument(s)Keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
Years activeLate 1960s–2020

David Paul Greenfield (29 March 1949 – 3 May 2020)[1][2] was an English keyboardist, singer and songwriter who was a member of rock band The Stranglers.[3] He joined the band in 1975, within a year of its formation, and played with them for 45 years until his death.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Greenfield was born on 29 March 1949 in the south coast seaside resort of Brighton.[5] He learned guitar from an older schoolmate[6] and, after leaving school, played for a year in bands at American bases in Germany.


Greenfield tried to develop a music career in Germany, and played in bands in Britain as well as Germany while also working in his father's printing business and as a piano tuner. In Britain, his bands included The Initials, The Blue Maxi (on the single "Here Comes Summer", released by Major Minor Records in 1970),[7] and progressive rock bands Rusty Butler and Credo.[8]

He joined The Stranglers after auditioning in 1975, replacing Hans Wärmling.[9] and played with them until his death in 2020.

In 1981, Greenfield produced the single "Back to France" by the band Boys in Darkness.[10] Greenfield and Jean-Jacques Burnel released an album together in 1983, Fire & Water (Ecoutez Vos Murs), which was used as the soundtrack for the film Ecoutez vos murs, directed by Vincent Coudanne.[4]

He was a musical perfectionist and could be awkward in social situations; observations consistent with his diagnosis, never made public during his lifetime, as a very high-functioning autistic.[11]

Musical style and equipment[edit]

Greenfield's sound and style of playing, particularly on The Stranglers' debut album Rattus Norvegicus, has been compared to that of Ray Manzarek of the Doors.[12][5] The comparison was even made at the Stranglers' inception by Jean-Jacques Burnel, who said Greenfield had not heard of the Doors at the time.[13] Greenfield admitted that he knew a few Doors tracks, those being "Light My Fire" and "Riders on the Storm".[5] However, he cited the works of Rick Wakeman of Yes and Jon Lord of Deep Purple as his early influences.[14][5] He was also noted for his trademark style of playing rapid arpeggios.[15] His distinctive sound on the early Stranglers recordings involved the use of Hohner Cembalet (model N), Hammond L-100 electric organ, a Minimoog synthesizer, and later an Oberheim OB-Xa.[16]

Greenfield wrote a piece of waltz-time harpsichord music[17] during recording for The Meninblack, which was discarded by other members of The Stranglers, but was later adapted into their biggest hit "Golden Brown", with lyrics from Hugh Cornwell and music from Greenfield and Jet Black, although the band themselves did not initially see this as a potential single.[5][18] In addition to its chart success, the song also won an Ivor Novello award.[5][19]

Vocal performances[edit]

Greenfield at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in 2018

On the albums The Raven, The Gospel According to the Meninblack and Aural Sculpture, Greenfield used a Korg VC-10 vocoder.[14] Notable instances of this include in "Genetix" when it accompanies his own vocal and during the "Gene Regulation" section underneath Hugh Cornwell's monologue,[20] and on "Baroque Bordello" towards the end of the song.[21]

He also frequently contributed harmony backing vocals to the band's songs, and sang the lead vocals on a few of their early tracks, as mentioned in Hugh Cornwell's book The Stranglers, Song By Song.[22] These tracks are:


Greenfield died on 3 May 2020, aged 71. He had been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection during the COVID-19 pandemic in England on 26 April 2020, a week before his death, during an extended hospital stay for heart-related problems.[5][23] Upon news of his death, several current and former members of the Stranglers eulogized him on social media. Hugh Cornwell tweeted, "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.'" Other artists also expressed their appreciation.[24] Greenfield's last concert with the band was on 15 February 2020 at the Auckland Town Hall in Auckland, New Zealand.[25]



  1. ^ Kohn, Daniel (4 May 2020). "Dave Greenfield, The Stranglers Keyboardist, Dies at 71". Spin. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Stranglers' keyboardist Dave Greenfield dies after contracting Covid-19". The Guardian. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Music – The Stranglers". BBC. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Strauss, Matthew (4 May 2020). "Dave Greenfield, Keyboardist of the Stranglers, Dead at 71 From COVID-19". Pitchfork Music. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Dave Greenfield: The Stranglers keyboard player dies at 71". BBC News. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Dave Greenfield-the interview" TheStranglers.co,uk. Retrieved 5 May 2020
  7. ^ "Dave Greenfield's Pre-Stranglers Bubblegum Single", DangerousMinds.net, 28 September 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2020
  8. ^ Blackmail Corner. In: NME, 13 January 1979, page 13.
  9. ^ Lifton, Dave. "Stranglers keyboardist Dave Greenfield dies of COVID-19". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  10. ^ Van Isacker, Bernard (4 May 2020). "R.I.P. The Stranglers keyboard player Dave Greenfield". Sideline. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  11. ^ Simpson, Dave (31 August 2021). "'We were called heretics and ostracised': the Stranglers on fights, drugs and finally growing up". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Music – Review of The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus". BBC. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Top of the Pops 2 – Where Are They Now?". BBC. 30 May 1974. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  14. ^ a b Jenkins, Mark (October 2009). Analog Synthesizers: Understanding, Performing, Buying--From the Legacy of Moog to Software Synthesis. CRC Press. p. 150. ISBN 9781136122781.
  15. ^ "The Stranglers Biography". AllMusic. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  16. ^ Headley, Janice. "R.I.P. Dave Greenfield, Keyboardist for The Stranglers". Kexp.org. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  17. ^ Blake, Mark (2006). Punk: The Whole Story. DK Pub. p. 183. ISBN 978-0756623593.
  18. ^ Petridis, Alexis (5 May 2020). "Dave Greenfield: putting beauty at the rotten heart of the Stranglers". Theguardian.com.
  19. ^ "Stranglers' keyboard player Dave Greenfield dies at 71 after testing positive for coronavirus". The Daily Telegraph. 5 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  20. ^ Robb, John (31 March 2013). "The Stranglers triumphant Manchester gig". Louder Than War. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  21. ^ Endeacott, Robert (July 2014). Peaches: A Chronicle Of The Stranglers 1974-1990. Soundcheck. p. 74. ISBN 9780957570047.
  22. ^ a b Hugh Cornwell (30 November 2001). The Stranglers, Song by Song (First ed.). Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1860743627.
  23. ^ Shafer, Ellise (4 May 2020). "Dave Greenfield, Keyboardist for The Stranglers, Dies at 71". Variety. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  24. ^ Grow, Kory (4 May 2020). "Stranglers' Dave Greenfield Dead at 71 After Coronavirus Battle". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  25. ^ Skipwith, David (15 February 2020). "The Stranglers round out Australasian tour with classic show at Auckland town Hall". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 April 2022.

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