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Dave Greenfield, Keyboardist of the Stranglers, Dies at 71

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Dave Greenfield, the keyboardist of the Stranglers, a band that rose to prominence in Britain’s 1970s punk rock scene while sparring, and sometimes brawling, with several of its leading figures, died on Sunday. He was 71.

Mr. Greenfield, who had been hospitalized because of heart problems, tested positive for the novel coronavirus a week before he died, the band said in a statement.

Golden Brown,” the band’s best-known song, largely sprang from a riff written by Mr. Greenfield and featured his dreamlike harpsichord playing, part of a sound that often diverged from the punk archetype. The song was frequently played on BBC radio despite a lyric partly about heroin, reached No. 2 on the British charts and was named the most performed work of 1982 at Britain’s Ivor Novello Awards for songwriting and composing.

David Paul Greenfield was born on March 29, 1949, in Brighton, England. He studied music theory and taught himself how to play the piano, he said in an interview in 2004. He joined the Stranglers in 1975, less than a year after the group formed in Guildford, England.

With a thick mustache, fringed, medium-length hair and a Hammond organ style that prompted comparisons to The Doors, Mr. Greenfield seemed an unlikely punk. He and his bandmates were older and more musically experienced than many of those who became famous around them, though they rapidly developed a rough-edged reputation.

“In those days it was always the Stranglers against everybody else,” the group’s bassist, Jean-Jacques Burnel, told The Guardian in 2001, reminiscing about a brawl after a 1976 gig in which he said he, Mr. Greenfield and the other Stranglers faced off against members of the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and the Clash.

The group fought rivals, critics and audiences alike, and boasted of having gaffer-taped a French music journalist, Philippe Manoeuvre, to the Eiffel Tower. Mr. Greenfield also joined his bandmates in trying heroin, although according to Mr. Burnel he “was sensible and quit the next day.”

He said that before joining the Stranglers his main influences had been Jon Lord of Deep Purple and Rick Wakeman of the progressive rock band Yes.

“He was the difference between the Stranglers and every other punk band,” Hugh Cornwell, the group’s founding singer, said on Twitter.

Mr. Greenfield, who was also a pilot, is survived by his wife, Pam.

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