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Hugh Cornwell

Hugh Cornwell English musician and songwriter, member of The Stranglers

English musician and songwriter, member of The Stranglers
Hugh Cornwell
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro English musician and songwriter, member of The Stranglers
A.K.A. Hugh Alan Cornwell
Is Autobiographer Singer Musician Guitarist Songwriter Rock musician Punk rock musician
From United Kingdom
Type Literature Music
Gender male
Birth 28 August 1949, London, UK
Age: 70 years
Star sign VirgoVirgo
University of Bristol
William Ellis School
Rock music
New wave
Hugh Cornwell
The details


Hugh Alan Cornwell (born 28 August 1949) is an English musician and singer-songwriter, best known for being the vocalist and guitarist for the punk rock/new wave band the Stranglers from 1974 to 1990.

Early life and career

Cornwell grew up in Tufnell Park and Kentish Town and attended William Ellis School in Highgate, where he played bass in a band with Richard Thompson, later a member of Fairport Convention. In the late 1960s, after earning a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Bristol University, he embarked on post-graduate research at Lund University in Sweden. Not long after his arrival he formed the band Johnny Sox.

The Stranglers

Cornwell returned to the UK in 1974 with Johnny Sox (minus Hans Wärmling). Drummer Jet Black then joined the band. At one stage it was just Cornwell and Black, who were then joined by bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel. Keyboardist Hans Wärmling, on holiday from Sweden, joined the line-up towards the end of 1974. The Johnny Sox name was dropped, with the band adopting the name The Guildford Stranglers before settling on The Stranglers.

Wärmling was soon replaced by Dave Greenfield, who joined in 1975 after answering an advertisement placed in the Melody Maker. Cornwell was the lead guitarist in the group and he also sang the majority of songs, with Burnell handling lead vocals on about a third of the band's songs. Years later, Burnell recalled that he often sang lyrics written by Cornwell, and vise-versa, depending on "who had the best voice for that particular song."

By 1977 the group had secured a contract with United Artists Records; they went on to become the highest-selling band to emerge from the UK punk scene, with numerous hit singles and record albums.

By the time Cornwell reached his thirties the British punk scene had long faded, and this was instrumental in prompting him to begin a solo career. He recorded his first album away from the group, Nosferatu, in collaboration with the Captain Beefheart's Magic Band's drummer, Robert Williams, in 1979.

In 1990 he decided that the Stranglers could go no further artistically. He recorded the album 10 with the band before leaving after 16 years.

Post-Stranglers solo career

Live in 2010

After leaving the Stranglers, Cornwell worked with Roger Cook and Andy West as CCW. Their self-titled album was released in 1992, with five of the ten tracks co-produced by Neil Davidge. Cornwell has released several solo albums including Wolf (1988) produced by Ian Ritchie, Wired (1993), Guilty (1997), Hi Fi (2000), Footprints in the Desert (2002), Mayday (2002), In the Dock (2003), and Beyond Elysian Fields (2004). Wired, Guilty and Hi Fi were released under different names, and with slightly different track listings, in the United States. Beyond Elysian Fields was initially released by Track Records in the UK, followed by Invisible Hands Music in the rest of the world, with expanded artwork. In 2006 a live album in two forms appeared: People Places Pieces, a triple CD box set, accompanied by a simultaneously released mass-market highlights disc, Dirty Dozen. The 12-track highlights disc, Live It and Breathe It, was released in 2005 in advance of the box set.

Cornwell playing at Guilfest 2011

In June 2008 Cornwell followed in the footsteps of Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails by offering his new album Hooverdam as a free download on his website. Hooverdam was recorded at Toe Rag Studios with record producer, Liam Watson. The album was accompanied by a film, Blueprint, which depicted the recording process of the album. Cornwell explained that the film was partly motivated by the risible quality of DVDs accompanying contemporary CD releases. Blueprint was described as "an engrossing film that borrows from Godard's "Sympathy For The Devil" and Jewison's "The Thomas Crown Affair".

He released solo records Totem and Taboo and Monster during the 2010s and continues to tour as part of his three-piece solo band. In a 2018 interview he was critical of the Stranglers' current lineup, saying: "I'll be playing The Stranglers’ hits when I tour this album, because I think people are no longer associating me with those songs after 28 years. They have been sequestered by a bogus version of the group with only two original members."

Films, theatre and television

Cornwell has an interest in acting, and has appeared in a number of productions including the 1987 Peter Richardson film Eat the Rich, the award-winning BBC Screen Two series (successor to Play for Today) and in the 1995 BBC production, Rumble. He has also appeared in a number of videos and short films, including Bertrand Fèvre's L'étoile de sang and the Ras Barker commissioned film Somewhere, written and directed by former Play School presenter Ben Thomas.


A cricket fan, Cornwell appeared on the 'Jamie Theakston Cricket Show' on BBC Radio 5 Live in 2001. He played a live acoustic version of "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)" with the then England batsman and guitarist Mark Butcher. Cornwell subsequently became a player with Bunbury Cricket Club, and has been a guest on 'A View From The Boundary' on BBC Radio Four's Test Match Special and BBC Radio 5 Live's Yes It's The Ashes.


Cornwell has written five books:

  • Inside Information (1980) tells of the time he spent in Pentonville prison for drug possession
  • The Stranglers – Song by Song (2001) guides the reader through all of The Stranglers catalogue
  • A Multitude of Sins (2004) is his autobiography
  • Window on the World (July 2011) ISBN 978-0-7043-7230-6 is a novel
  • A fifth book and second novel, Arnold Drive, ISBN 978-1-78352-052-7, was published in 2014.


Studio albums

  • Wolf (1988)
  • Wired (1993) (US title: First Bus to Babylon, 1999)
  • Guilty (1997) (US title: Black Hair, Black Eyes, Black Suit, 1999)
  • Hi Fi (2000)
  • Footprints in the Desert (Track, April 2002)
  • Beyond Elysian Fields (Track, October 2004)
  • Hooverdam (2008)
  • Totem and Taboo, recorded with producer Steve Albini, released on digital download to pledgers on 25 June 2013.
  • Monster (October 2018)

Live albums

  • Solo (1999)
  • Mayday (download: 1999, CD: Track, September 2002) (live album)
  • In the Dock (Track, 24 March 2003) (live acoustic album)
  • People, Places, Pieces (2006) (3-CD box set, live recordings), a one-CD compilation of this box set was released as Dirty Dozen.
  • New Songs for King Kong (2010) (live album)

Compilation albums

  • Beyond Acoustic Fields (2008) (acoustic recordings of tracks of Beyond Elysian Fields, limited edition to buy on tour only)
  • You're Covered, Limited to 250 copies on Cornwell's 2011 tour, features covers of Cornwell's influences.
  • The Fall And Rise of High Cornwell, a compilation of tracks spanning Hugh Cornwell's solo career, including a brand new track "Live it and Breathe It". (2015)


  • Nosferatu (1979) (Cornwell with Robert Williams)
  • CCW (1992) (Cornwell with Roger Cook and Andy West)
  • Sons of Shiva: Sons of Shiva (1999: download release, September 2002: CD Track Records) Sons of Shiva are Cornwell and poet Sex W. Johnston (actually John W. Sexton)
  • This Time It's Personal (14 October 2016) (Cornwell and John Cooper Clarke)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 06 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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