Happy Birthday to Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel – born February 21, 1952!
Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel (born in London) is a Franco-English musician, producer and songwriter, best known as the bass guitarist with the British rock band the Stranglers.
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. Burnel originally trained as a classical guitarist, but adopted the bass guitar as his instrument within The Stranglers. He has provided lead vocals on nearly a third of the band’s songs.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Burnel is fluent in French and writes many of his songs in the language.