Jet Black, one of the co-founders and the original drummer in beloved British new wave/punk band The Stranglers has died at 84. “It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of our dear friend, colleague and band elder statesman Jet Black,” the band wrote in a statement on Thursday (Dec. 8). “Jet died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. Fond adieu, fly straight JB.”
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In a lengthy tribute, the band said that Black (born Brian John Duffy on Aug. 26, 1938 in Essex, England) died on Tuesday (Dec. 6) of unspecified causes. “As the ‘elder statesmen’ of the group, Jet was already a successful businessman in the Guildford area when The Stranglers formed in 1974,” they wrote. “Jet owned a fleet of ice cream vans, one of which, as many fans will fondly remember, was used to tour the UK in the early years. Jet also owned an off licence, the upstairs apartment of which doubled as ‘Stranglers HQ’ in the early days.”
The group credited Black with keeping the beat on 23 top 40 singles in the UK, as well as 19 top 40 albums on the official UK charts thanks to his jazz-influenced style on such beloved hits as “Golden Brown,” “Patches” and “No More Heroes.” Just years after forming, the band became a vital part of the UK punk and new wave scenes, making their bones supporting American punks such as the Ramones and Patti Smith on their UK tours.
The Stranglers’ lone remaining original member, bassist/co-frontman JJ Burnel said, “The welcoming committee has doubled. After years of ill health Jet has finally been released. He was a force of nature. An inspiration. The Stranglers would not have been if it wasn’t for him. The most erudite of men. A rebel with many causes. Say hi to Dave for me.” The band’s former keyboardist/vocalist, Dave Greenfield, died in 2020.
Black retired from touring and performing live with the Stranglers in 2015 due to complications from respiratory issues that had dogged him since childhood and which had caused him to take a series of health-related pauses from touring in the early and mid-200s. “Despite difficulties in performing towards the end of his career, Jet’s charismatic charm resonated with fans who would endlessly chant his name as he took his place at the drums,” they wrote.
In addition to his steady-on drumming, Black also wrote two books about the band’s notorious 1980 arrest in Nice, France for allegedly inciting a riot, 1981’s Much Ado About Nothing and 2010’s Seven Days in Nice.
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