Jean-Jacques Burnel

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Jean-Jacques "JJ" Burnel
Jean-Jacques Burnel.JPG
With the Stranglers, Chicago 2013
Background information
Birth nameJean-Jacques Burnel
Born (1952-02-21) 21 February 1952 (age 67)
Notting Hill, London, England
Origin London, England
Genres Rock, punk rock, new wave, post-punk, folk
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, producer
Instruments Bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Years active1974–present
Associated acts The Stranglers

Jean-Jacques "JJ" Burnel [1] (born 21 February 1952, London) is a Franco-English musician, producer and songwriter, best known as the bass guitarist with the English rock band the Stranglers.

Bassist musician who plays a bass instrument

A bassist or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass, bass guitar, keyboard bass or a low brass instrument such as a tuba or sousaphone. Different musical genres tend to be associated with one or more of these instruments. Since the 1960s, the electric bass has been the standard bass instrument for funk, R&B, soul music, rock and roll, reggae, jazz fusion, heavy metal, country and pop music. The double bass is the standard bass instrument for classical music, bluegrass, rockabilly, and most genres of jazz. Low brass instruments such as the tuba or sousaphone are the standard bass instrument in Dixieland and New Orleans-style jazz bands.

The Stranglers English punk rock music group

The Stranglers are an English rock band who emerged via the punk rock scene. Scoring some 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums to date in a career spanning four decades, the Stranglers are one of the longest-surviving and most "continuously successful" bands to have originated in the UK punk scene.


Life and career

Jean-Jacques Burnel was born in Notting Hill, London, to French parents. He moved with his parents to Godalming, Surrey, when he was 12 years old and attended the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, subsequently reading history at the University of Bradford and Huddersfield Polytechnic. [2] Burnel originally trained as a classical guitarist, but adopted the bass guitar as his instrument within The Stranglers. [3] He has provided lead vocals on nearly a third of the band's songs.

Notting Hill Area of London, England

Notting Hill is an affluent district of West London, England, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Godalming town in the Borough of Waverley in Surrey, England

Godalming is a historic market town, civil parish and administrative centre of the Borough of Waverley in Surrey, England, 4 miles SSW of Guildford. The town traverses the banks of the River Wey in the Greensand Ridge – a hilly, heavily wooded part of the outer London commuter belt and Green Belt. In 1881, it became the first place in the world to have a public electricity supply and electric street lighting.

Royal Grammar School, Guildford Grade I listed building in the United Kingdom

The Royal Grammar School, Guildford, commonly known as the RGS, is a selective independent day school for boys in Guildford, Surrey in England. The school dates its founding to the death of Robert Beckingham in 1509 who left provision in his will to 'make a free scole at the Towne of Guldford'; in 1512 a governing body was set up to form the school. The school moved to the present site in the upper High Street after the granting of a royal charter from King Edward VI in 1552. Around that time, its pupils were playing cricket and their activity was later documented as the earliest definite reference to the sport. The school's Old Building, constructed between 1557 and 1586, is the home of a rare example of a chained library. It was established on the death of John Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, in 1575. Although defined as a 'free' school, the first statutes of governance, approved in 1608, saw the introduction of school fees, at the rate of 4 shillings per annum, along with the school's first admissions test. During the late 19th century the school ran into financial difficulty, which nearly resulted in the closure of the school. A number of rescue options were explored, including amalgamation with Archbishop Abbott's School. Funds were eventually raised, however, which allowed the school to remain open, although boarding was no longer offered.

Burnel has been a member of the Stranglers since the group's inception in 1974, but has also made two solo albums: Euroman Cometh in 1979, and Un Jour Parfait in 1988, as well as a collaborative album with fellow Stranglers member Dave Greenfield, Fire and Water (Ecoutez Vos Murs) in 1983. [4] Burnel has also produced and appeared as a guest musician for a number of artists, such as Lizard and ARB from Japan, Polyphonic Size (from Belgium) and Taxi Girl's album Seppuku in 1981, as well as Laurent Sinclair's "Devant le Miroir" maxi single. Burnel also formed a rhythm and blues covers band, the Purple Helmets, who played a number of concerts and released two albums in the late 1980s.

<i>Euroman Cometh</i> 1979 studio album by J. J. Burnel

Euroman Cometh is the 1979 debut solo album by the Stranglers' bassist J. J. Burnel. Musically, it was an attempt at incorporating electronic sounds into rock. Lyrically, it evolved around the idea of a United States of Europe in the context of the Cold War. "A Europe riddled with american values and soviet subversion is a diseased sycophantic old whore: a Europe strong, united and independent is a child of the future", states Burnel on the inner sleeve.

Un Jour Parfait is the second solo album by The Stranglers' bassist J.J. Burnel. Released in 1988, all songs were written in French except "Garden of Eden". In a 1992 interview, JJ Burnel explained: "with this I wanted to do something with French sounds and sensibilities".

Dave Greenfield English rock keyboardist

David Paul Greenfield is the keyboardist with the English rock band the Stranglers.

As a French citizen, Burnel received his call-up papers for national service in France. He succeeded in avoiding it with a novel defence, arguing that his absence would indirectly damage the Stranglers as a band, and therefore the careers of the other members. This was in accordance with Burnel's claim that only the "bourgeois" would ever agree to serve their country's military.

National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription is mandatory national service. The term national service comes from the United Kingdom's National Service Act 1939. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes. Compulsory military service typically requires all male citizens to enroll for one or two years, usually at age 18, while voluntary national service requires only three months of basic military training. The US equivalent is Selective Service. In the United States, voluntary enrollments at the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps are also known as national service.

Burnel composed and performed music for the anime Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo , including both the opening and ending themes, "We Were Lovers", and "You Won't See Me Coming" respectively.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

Anime Japanese animation

Anime is hand-drawn and computer animation originating from or associated with Japan.

<i>Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo</i> anime and manga series

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a science fiction anime series produced by Gonzo. An adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, the 24-episode series aired on Japanese television between October 2004 and March 2005; it was licensed for a Western release first by Geneon Entertainment and later by Funimation. The series was adapted into a CD drama, a trilogy of novels by screenwriter Shuichi Kouyama, and a manga written and drawn by series creator Mahiro Maeda which ran from 2005 to 2008.

Burnel is fluent in French and writes many of his songs in the language.

Equipment and sound

Shuker JJ Burnel signature bass headstock Shuker JJ Burnel signature bass.JPG
Shuker JJ Burnel signature bass headstock

Burnel is noted for his distinctive bass guitar sound and melodic bass lines. These are particularly prominent on earlier Stranglers recordings produced by Martin Rushent, such as the hit singles "No More Heroes" and "Peaches".

Martin Rushent English record producer

Martin Rushent was an English record producer, best known for his work with The Human League, The Stranglers and Buzzcocks.

Peaches (The Stranglers song) Song

"Peaches" is a seminal punk rock song and single by The Stranglers from the album Rattus Norvegicus. The track peaked at No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart.

In the early days, Burnel's distinctive aggressive sound was created using a Fender Precision Bass with RotoSound roundwound strings played with a plectrum very close to the bridge, through Hiwatt all-valve amplification. [5] However, the defining factor was the use of a Marshall 4x12 speaker cabinet in which the speaker cones were ripped, creating a distorted sound. [6]

Later, he used a Yamaha BB2000, a Steinberger L2 (headless), and a Kinkade acoustic bass. He currently plays Shuker JJ Burnel signature basses custom-built in England by Jon Shuker. [7]

He was one of the first bass guitarists to use Trace Elliot amplification when the company began production in 1980. He now uses amplification by Ashdown Engineering who have honoured him with his own JJ500 signature amps. [8]


Burnel is currently a 7th degree black belt (nanadan) in Shidokan Karate [9] and is head of Shidokan UK. [10] He is also a motorcyclist and has owned many Triumph motorbikes. [11]


The Stranglers



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  1. Matilda Battersby (29 July 2010). "My life in ten questions...The Stranglers Jean-Jacques Burnel - Profiles - People - The Independent". The Independent . London: INM. ISSN   0951-9467. OCLC   185201487 . Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  2. Buckley 1997, pp.16–18.
  3. Buckley 1997, p.17.
  4. Buckley 1997, pp.136–137.
  5. Buckley 1997, p. 90.
  6. Hugh Cornwell, The Stranglers Song by Song,
  7. Shuker Guitars,"Players", Shuker, 2017. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  8. Ashdown Engineering, "Jean-Jacques Burnel", Ashdown, 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
  9. "Shidokan GB". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  10. "Interview: Jean Jacques Burnel, bass guitarist and founder of the Stranglers". Scotland on Sunday . Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  11. Buckley 1997, p.18.
  12. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 86. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.

Further reading