“We took his trousers off, gaffer-taped him to one of the girders and left him there to be photographed by Japanese tourists.” That time The Stranglers gaffer-taped a journalist to the Eiffel Tower, 400 feet off the ground

The Stranglers
(Image credit: Hulton-Deutsch/Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Stranglers, it's fair to say, had a reputation for being a bit... tasty, even before punk rock forced its way, kicking and screaming, into mainstream consciousness.

There was the night, July 5, 1976 to be precise, that the Guildford quartet faced off against members of the Sex Pistols, Ramones and The Clash outside Dingwalls in Camden, north London, after bassist JJ Burnel punched Paul Simenon in the face. Later, when the group first toured the UK, there was “violence every night," Burnel told MOJO magazine in 2002, admitting, “we gave as good as we got.”

“What do you do when someone's bottling you?” the bassist mused. “If you're not going to run away you fight back.”

Not that Burnel was shy about getting his retaliation in first. When Sounds journalist Jon Savage [later the author of essential punk rock history text England's Dreaming] penned a dismissive review of the group's second album, 1977's No More Heroes, he “got his face crunched” by the bassist.

“I don't like being patronised by people with smaller brains than ourselves,” the bassist told Melody Maker the following year. “It's the law of the jungle.”

Perhaps the band's most infamous encounter with a journalist, however, took place in Paris in 1978, when influential music writer Philippe Manœuvre found himself gaffer-taped to the Eiffel Tower, 400 feet off the ground, after “bugging” Burnel.

“He was an annoying little oik,” the unrepentant bassist told The West Australian website in 2016. “He was pestering me for an interview, so I agreed to do one up the Eiffel Tower with him and then somehow managed to get his trousers off and gaffer-taped him to one of the girders. It was a pretty straight-forward operation, really.”

“He wasn't best pleased,“ drummer Jet Black recalled in The Guardian.

“We left him there to be photographed by Japanese tourists,“ Burnel added. “It was only the first floor. Admittedly, that is 400ft off the ground.“

“About seven or eight years ago, he finally got the joke.“

“I was rescued by tourists,“ Philippe Manœuvre, now a TV presenter, recalled in a 2020 interview. “Jumping in a taxi, I went back to the studio where they were recording Black And White, an album that I love, and for the record, I arrived before them. It was funny and without violence.“

Frankly, the man got off lightly... all things considered. 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.