The Stranglers' founding drummer Jet Black dead at 84

Jet Black behind the kit
(Image credit: Steve Rapport/Getty Images)

The Stranglers' founding drummer Jet Black has died at the age of 84. The news was announced in a post on the band's website

"Jet Black, born Brian John Duffy, passed away peacefully at home on Tue 6th Dec," read the statement. "A founding member of iconic British new-wave rock band The Stranglers, Jet helped the band achieve a prolific 23 top 40 singles and 19 top 40 albums in the official UK charts."

The statement went on to detail Black's long history, from his time in jazz bands in the 1960s to his success as a businessman in Guildford prior to joining The Stranglers in 1974, where he owned a fleet of ice cream vans and an off-licence. He would go on to play on every Stranglers album from 1977's Rattus Norvegicus to 2016's Giant.  

"The welcoming committee has doubled," wrote Stranglers bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel, referring to keyboardist Dave Greenfield, who died in May 2020. "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." 

Black had suffered from respiratory issues since childhood, and first took leave of absence from the band in 2007, taking 18 months away from the road after an abnormal heart rhythm was detected. In 2012 he abandoned the band's UK tour after suffering a chest infection, and appearances in the following years were sporadic.

He finally announced his retirement from live performance in 2015, although he travelled with the band in 2016 when they celebrated the 40th anniversary of their classic Black And White album, spending time with fans and signing copies of the record. 

"I loved Jet," says current Stranglers frontman Baz Warne. "He took me under his wing over two decades ago and I never really came out from under it. I’m so very sad he’s gone. He hadn’t been too well for a while, but when I spoke to him most recently, three weeks ago, he was laughing and wanting to hear all the news… still interested and involved. 

"It’s been my privilege to have known and worked with him, and to have called him a friend, and I’ll miss him until the end of my days. Rest in peace big man."

Former Stranglers singer Hugh Cornwell also paid tribute on his website. “It is with great sadness I have learnt that Jet Black has passed away. We shared a special period of our lives when we strived to become professional musicians. We were immediately drawn to one another, he had a singular sense of purpose that I identified with.

“He threw everything in his previous life out, to dedicate himself to our common goal Our birthdays were 2 days apart, so we were quite similar. The Stranglers success was founded on his determination and drive. His timing was faultless. All power to him and his legacy.”

No cause of death has been announced. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.