|Jean-Jacques "JJ" Burnel|
With the Stranglers, Chicago 2013
|Birth name||Jean-Jacques Burnel|
21 February 1952 |
Notting Hill, London, England
|Genres||Rock, punk rock, new wave, post-punk, folk|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||Bass guitar, guitar, vocals|
|Associated acts||The Stranglers|
|Shuker JJ Burnel Signature Bass, Fender Precision Bass, Steinberger Bass|
Life and career
Jean-Jacques Burnel was born in Notting Hill, London, to French parents. He moved with his parents to Godalming, Surrey, when he was 12 years old and attended the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, subsequently reading history at the University of Bradford and Huddersfield Polytechnic. Burnel originally trained as a classical guitarist, but adopted the bass guitar as his instrument within The Stranglers. He has provided lead vocals on nearly a third of the band's songs.
Burnel has been a member of the Stranglers since the group's inception in 1974, but has also made two solo albums: Euroman Cometh in 1979, and Un Jour Parfait in 1988, as well as a collaborative album with fellow Stranglers member Dave Greenfield, Fire and Water (Ecoutez Vos Murs) in 1983. Burnel has also produced and appeared as a guest musician for a number of artists, such as Lizard and ARB from Japan, Polyphonic Size (from Belgium) and Taxi Girl's album, Seppuku, in 1981, as well as Laurent Sinclair's "Devant le Miroir" maxi single. Burnel also formed a rhythm and blues covers band, the Purple Helmets, who played a number of concerts and released two albums in the late 1980s.
As a French citizen, Burnel received his call-up papers for national service in France. He succeeded in avoiding it with a novel defence, arguing that his absence would indirectly damage the Stranglers as a band, and therefore the careers of the other members. This was in accordance with Burnel's claim that only the "bourgeois" would ever agree to serve their country's military.
Equipment and sound
Burnel is noted for his distinctive bass guitar sound and melodic bass lines. These are particularly prominent on earlier Stranglers recordings produced by Martin Rushent, such as the hit singles "No More Heroes" and "Peaches". In the early days, Burnel's distinctive aggressive sound was created using a Fender Precision Bass with RotoSound roundwound strings played with a plectrum very close to the bridge, through Hiwatt all-valve amplification, however the defining factor was the use of a Marshall 4x12 speaker cabinet in which the speaker cones were ripped, creating a distorted sound. Later, he used a Yamaha BB2000, a Steinberger L2 (headless), and a Kinkade acoustic bass. He currently plays Shuker JJ Burnel signature basses custom-built in England by Jon Shuker. He was one of the first bass guitarists to use Trace Elliot amplification when the company began production in 1980. He now uses amplification by Ashdown Engineering who have honoured him with his own JJ500 signature amps. Burnel has been a RotoSound endorser since the early 1980s, and has featured in their advertising.
Burnel is a black belt 7th dan (nanadan), karate expert, and is head of Shidokan UK. He once used these skills to assault rock journalist Jon Savage after a mildly critical review. Savage was left with facial injuries. He is also a motorcyclist and has owned many Triumph machines.
JJ is fluent in French and writes many of his songs in the language.
- Euroman Cometh (1979) #40 (UK Albums Chart)
- Fire and Water (Ecoutez Vos Murs) (with Dave Greenfield) (1983) #94 (UK Albums Chart)
- Un Jour Parfait (1988)
- Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo – Original Soundtrack (with Kasamatsu Kouji) (2005)
- "Freddie Laker (Concorde & Eurobus)" (1979), B-side "Ozymandias"
- "Girl from the Snow Country" (1981) deleted prior to release due to dispute with record label, but also released as a bootleg on "Karate Records".
- "Rain & Dole and Tea"/"Consequences" (1984) (with Dave Greenfield)
- "Goebbels, Mosley, God & Ingrams" (1988) flexi-disc release of an outtake from Euroman Cometh sessions
- "Le Whiskey"/"El Whiskey" (1988)
- "Reves"/"Crazy (She Drives Me)" (1988)
- Matilda Battersby (29 July 2010). "My life in ten questions...The Stranglers’ Jean-Jacques Burnel - Profiles - People - The Independent". The Independent. London: INM. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 185201487. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- Buckley 1997, pp.16–18.
- Buckley 1997, p.17.
- Buckley 1997, pp.136–137.
- Buckley 1997, p. 90.
- Hugh Cornwell, The Stranglers Song by Song,
- "Shidokan GB". Shidokan.org.uk. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "Interview: Jean Jacques Burnel, bass guitarist and founder of the Stranglers". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
- Buckley 1997, p.18.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 86. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Buckley, David. No Mercy – The Authorised and Uncensored Biography of The Stranglers. London. Hodder and Stoughton. 1997. ISBN 0-340-68062-8
- Cornwell, Hugh, A Multitude of Sins. London. Harper Collins Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-00-719082-4
- Cornwell, Hugh and Drury, Jim. The Stranglers – Song by Song. London. Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. 2001 ISBN 1-86074-362-5
- The Rat's Lair
- Ode to Joy: Issue 4; The Burning Up Times PDF: free online publication devoted to JJ Burnel's 1979 debut album, Euroman Cometh. 30 years on, JJ Burnel and John Ellis are interviewed, alongside fans' live Eurotour reviews and exclusive images
- JJ Burnel & Stranglers interviews, news and reviews at www.strangled.co.uk