Jet Black, the original drummer of new-wave rock band The Stranglers, has died after “years of ill health” at the age of 84, his representative confirmed.
The musician, born Brian John Duffy, was a founding member of the group formed in Guildford, Surrey.
In a statement, the band’s official Twitter account called him an “elder statesman” of British music.
He had been living in his country home in North Wales close to his friends and family as his health problems became more debilitating.
A statement from his representative confirmed he died “peacefully” on Tuesday, 6 December.
Black was a founding member of The Stranglers, who formed in Guildford in 1974, and his playing style helped them achieve their unique sound – achieving 23 top 40 singles and 19 top 40 albums, according to the official UK charts.
The Stranglers’ most-loved tracks include Peaches, No More Heroes and Golden Brown – which won the band an Ivor Novello award – while their third album Black And White from 1978 is still considered to be the first post-punk album.
The band’s bassist Jean-Jacques 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.”
Baz Warne, The Strangers guitarist, said: “I loved Jet. 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.”
Sil Willcox, the band’s manager, said: “He was the Jet force that launched The Stranglers. He was the Jet force that powered the band’s determination to get heard and get noticed. Jet Black was the real deal.
“Astute in business, a talented drummer and an obsessive perfectionist. These are only a few of the talents of the man whom I was privileged to have as my mentor and my dear friend.
“I will cherish the times we planned, pranked, ate, drank and laughed on so many great nights together.”
As well as music, Black has been remembered for a string of other talents including writing, business, furniture making and culinary skills.
Before joining the band, Black was a successful businessman owning a fleet of ice cream vans, which were later used to tour the UK, and he owned an off licence – the upstairs apartment of which doubled as ‘Stranglers HQ’ in the early days of the band.
During his varied career, he wrote two books that documented The Stranglers’ infamous 1980 arrest in Nice, France after allegedly inciting a riot, and has also been remembered for his skill in crafting bespoke furniture, designing a patented bass drum pedal.
Black retired from performing live with The Stranglers in 2015, having suffered respiratory health issues since he was a child. Despite difficulties in performing towards the end of his career, his charismatic charm resonated with fans who would endlessly chant his name as he took his place at the drums, a statement said.
His death comes two years after The Stranglers’ keyboard player Dave Greenfield died at the age of 71 after testing positive for coronavirus.
Greenfield, originally from Brighton, died on the evening of 3 May 2020, and had contracted the virus following a prolonged stay in hospital for heart problems.
A long-standing member of the influential punk outfit, Greenfield was known for his distinctive sound and playing style, using instruments such as the harpsichord and Hammond electric organ.
Black leaves behind his wife Ava, and his two children Charlotte and Anthony.
Additional reporting from PA