News has just come to us overnight of the sad death of Jean-Luke Epstein. J-L was art director and photographer on many Stranglers records and CD covers, as well as many other artists. J-L was a friend of the band and a friend of Strangled: years back, he kindly got in touch to tell us how much he had enjoyed reading one of our PDFs. J-L was himself involved in Stranglers between 1984 and 1992. J-L was also a confirmed fan of The Stranglers, when he told us:
"I’ve pretty well been a Stranglers’ fan from the vinyl outset. Never got to see them though until Wembley supporting The Who - a ridiculous state of affairs given that I lived three streets away from The Nashville and, irritatingly, kept hearing, each time I missed them, glowing accounts of how brilliant they were when they played there. As a former Who fan, I left Wembley after the MIBs’ set, such was the affirmation of their prowess."
J-L was a talented and charming man who will be sorely missed by everyone who were fortunate enough to have met him and knew him. Our sincerest thoughts go out to J-L's family and friends Rest in peace, Jean-Luke.
Loft, lost and found
9th May 2017
It's been a busy time behind the scenes what with all the updating to the new version of Strangled. Thanks to webmaster Ian, it's a smart new site that can be viewed clearly in all formats. We didn't lose the old articles, we just archived them at the end of each tab. One plan was to upload Strangled reader Duncan's disc of Strangled Volume 2 magazines where he lovingly scanned each page like he did for the first volumes in Stranglers Magazines tab. Unfortunately, the disc has disappeared here at Strangled HQ and Duncan's computer drive has since died. The search is still on so they can join Volume 1 Strangleds. On the plus side, we did retrieve Duncan's scan of the seminal and rare Sideburns magazine which is added to Strangled Magazines.
There are new Stranglers dates added for 2017 for the UK and France, plus we hear the infamous Wonky Bus will be in action for a couple of European dates later this year.
But the most exciting discovery for years is the original version of Two Sunspots on acetate. Furthermore, the palimpsest Meninblack, which sounds quite different from the track off The Raven we all know and love. Two Sunspots is a version with different vocals from the Meninblack album track that was once cued for single release in 1979 before being aborted. According to our records, both versions were recorded at Eden Studios in Chiswick on 7th May 1979 with Martin Rushent and Alan Winstanley, and quite possibly the very day Martin walks out on The Stranglers once they chose to work on Two Sunspots in reverse which as we all know became Meninblack. The version from the acetate Strangled heard jumps at 'information can destroy - ' so does anyone out there have a better copy from their acetate they can email us?
We shared both mp3s to a dropbox site for 24 hours in April and spread the word through Strangled facebook. In terms of appeal and quality, it even rivals the cassette 'straight from the desk' of The Raven which was nobly supplied to us by Strangled reader Jeff which we shared by cunningly tucking it teasingly away in one of our features on The Raven.
Also, in a further quest, the rejected promo video for Nice 'n' Sleazy is so far proving very much elusive. This was to be included in an upcoming Strangled feature called 'Did Video Kill The Radio Star?' with interviews from Stranglers video directors Lindsey Clennell, Chris Gabrin and also Brian Lunn who shot the Nice 'n' Sleazy promo. So if anyone knows if a copy still exists beyond the pub video jukebox fad of the early 1980s where it was last seen by a handful of Stranglers fans up and down the country, please get in touch: a trade could be in the offing. We think you will agree that It would be a great addition to the new-look Strangled. Meanwhile watch out for 'Did Video Kill The Radio Star?' in Features coming shortly.
Here's wishing The Stranglers' debut LP a very happy 40th birthday!
The 'Black and White' tour March 2016
2nd March 2016
'March On' tour 2015
11th January 2015
Never To Look Back: the Video Collection 1983-2012
7th January 2014
This latest Stranglers DVD features a comprehensive collection of all of the promotional videos from the Feline album onwards plus rare and unreleased footage including some great live appearances. All this for just £15.00 plus postage and a Suite XVI tour poster included. This is a must for all Stranglers fans. DVD - Region 0 - worldwide compatible. Available from the official merchandiser HERE
JJ on Vintage TV
Many of you may have witnessed JJ in an hour long programme - Neil McCormick’s Needle Time – on Christmas Eve. Originally broadcast on Vintage TV in the UK, the show can also be viewed HERE
Graeme Rennie 1967–2013: rest in peace…
I AM SURE MANY OF YOU ARE AWARE THAT Stranglers fan Graeme Rennie has sadly passed away. He was well-known in the Stranglers fraternity but to me, he became a true friend. Graeme was smart man, intelligent, inspirational, witty and warm. He was also someone who heroically kicked prostate cancer into touch on two occasions. Unfortunately, it was not third time lucky, and it was a rare, unfortunate complication that Graeme finally succumbed to on Saturday. But even so, all through, right to the end, Graeme always braved it out - Braveheart himself - with his immensely positive attitude. It is hard to realise that just weeks ago, I was enjoying a marathon catch-up telephone call from this legend who I will never forget.
Edinburgh-born Graeme immigrated to Western Australia some years back with Nichola, who Stranglers fans may remember working at the SIS in Kingston some years back. I knew of Graeme – or Griff as he was also known - but it wasn’t until we eventually met that our friendship grew. Griff returned to Blighty after visiting his sister, and squeezes in a Stranglers gig before heading for the airport. So when I’m loitering in the lobby of the Brighton Dome in 2010, chatting with a pal by the merch stall, I’m suddenly greeted by a man in black in a beanie hat and a James Bond - Sean Connery voice:
“Mr. Kent, good evening!”
I’m both shaken and stirred. We hit it off. All three of us that night. We see the gig, we laugh, we joke, chew the cud and these three amigos stretch out the night at a nearby restaurant until late: it was like Griff and I had known each other for a decade. Well, we had really. But that night, we became mates. Little did I know that we’d never meet again, nor will Griff ever see the band again. Post-grub, Griff dashes to his early morning flight. I snap us all in St. James Street, and get one of Griff. Little did anyone know that precisely three years to the day of this photo, Griff would slip away from us, from Nichola, from everyone who knew him and loved him. But boy did he put up a fight.
His rock was Nichola: he’d told me so many times in emails and phone calls. Having just spoken with her, I see his point entirely. She’s clearly heartbroken, but she is doing her best, as ever. She tells me that she loves the photo, taken on their old Brighton stomping ground. She adds: “If you look closely, you’ll see a mark on Griff’s nose. It’s not a bogey, it’s from when his sister’s dog who decided to take a bite of him earlier that day!”
We were like brothers - like two old women on the phone - gassing about The Stranglers, music in general, anything, as well as ideas of hooking up in Aus this year or the next. He trained for his Taekwondo Black Belt after his all-clear in 2012, and by December, Griff and Nichola set out on a holiday to the other side of Australia to coincide with the handful of Stranglers concerts. A review is promised, but it never gets written. Because in the airport departure lounge, tragedy strikes. Griff suffers a fit. A scan reveals that this disease has spread to his meninges. More chemo fails to dampen his spirit. He is determined to win this battle for the third time. At the hospice, he stoically clings on to life, clinging to his rock, Nichola. All the time, he never lets on to me how much pain he is in. He never says how uncomfortable he is. He just remains so positive, right to the end of the trail. The man was amazing. If I was Griff’s leveller, Griff was my confidant and adviser. The brother I never had. It was Griff who first hears a problem that up until then, no one is aware of except me. To that, I receive not just empathy and sympathy, but above all, he is there for me with heartfelt, sensible advice while he himself goes through a lot worse. I shall never forget you, Graeme Rennie, 007 and Earl of Hibernia. Three years wasn’t long enough. If only we could stretch this out a little bit longer… Slange, my friend.