Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

Welcome to Aural Sculptors, a blog aimed at bringing the music of The Stranglers to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst all of the various members of the band that have passed through the ranks since 1974 are accomplished studio musicians, it is on stage where the band have for me had their biggest impact.

As a collector of their live recordings for many years I want to share some of the better quality material with other fans. By selecting the higher quality recordings I hope to present The Stranglers in the best possible light for the benefit of those less familiar with their material than the hardcore fan.

Needless to say, this site will steer well clear of any officially released material. As well as live gigs, I will post demos, radio interviews and anything else that I feel may be of interest.

In addition, occasionally I will post material by other bands, related or otherwise, that mean a lot to me.

Your comments and/or contributions are most welcome. Please email me at

Friday, 7 December 2018

It's Unthinkable!.... Pete Shelley Dies at 63

Last night as I sat on my own at home watching TV my phone pinged. It was a message from Gunta, it said 'Have you heard the sad news about Pete Shelley?' Such words could only point to one thing.... my attention to the documentary that I was watching evaporated instantly as I started to search credible news sites for confirmation of the facts. At the same time the traffic on my Facebook account spiked as many of my like minded friend's, 'Friends of Mine' you could say, reacted to the rumour that seemed to be rapidly solidifying into an awful fact.

..... and there it was, 'Breaking News' on the BBC website..... 'Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley dies at 63'.

'Oh Shit!' indeed. Of course we have been through this before, Joe Strummer, The Ramones and of course David Bowie. For me each of those rock 'n' roll deaths were rather different to this one. The passing of David Bowie was genuinely a huge thing that effected millions in a very personal way, myself included, but the news of Pete going is hitting me harder. I never met Joe, any of the original Ramones or David Bowie whereas I met Pete Shelley on a couple of occasions. The second occasion was in Budapest (if I remember correctly) in April 2011. I was there for a company meeting with other work colleagues. At breakfast in the hotel, I looked up from my cornflakes only to see Pete standing not 10 feet away patiently waiting for his toast to do a revolution in one of those awful hotel toasting machines, the ones that never toast evenly! Well, I was due to make some toast myself so I walked over and said hi, made some throwaway remark about toasting efficiency,  mentioned that I was a fan of the band and asked him what had brought him to Hungary. It was holiday and always conscious of invading the space of musicians, especially when 'off-duty' I said 'See you on tour' and returned to my seat as Pete threaded his way through the breakfast diners holding his pale/charred toast. I thought that was the end of it.

After two days of all day meetings it was time to make for the airport for a return flight to London. For whatever reason the British Airways flight was facing a delay which appeared to be increasing steadily as the evening turned into night. Frequent trips to the departure board were made to follow the progress of the flight. On one of these occasions, I was crowded around the screen when the delay increased by a further two hours on the turn of the page. 'Oh Shit!' I uttered and turned away only to find the diminutive Mr Shelley standing at my shoulder...... oh God he's gonna think I'm a mad fan who is quoting song titles deliberately within his earshot! 'Hello again' he said as I hurried back to the kiosk come bar. By now I was feeling rather sorry for myself, with the current delays we would not be touching down at Heathrow until the early hours of the morning at which point I needed to cross London to Sutton, At 5 the next morning  a group of us were to drive Dover as we were scheduled to see The Stranglers in the coming days on an acoustic tour of the Lowlands. No sleep for me then!

The hours wore on, the shops closed and successful flights fell off the departure board leaving a sorry looking BA flight in red as the only one still displayed. Airport delays + beer = frequent trips to the toilet and it was as I returned from yet another visit that I crossed the now deserted concourse just as Pete rounded the corner. We were the only two people in this huge space and he wandered over to me. He was with company that evening but he was quite happy to spend half an hour talking music. We discussed the band's current progress in the studio, Garth, Steve (I mentioned the withering looks Pete had become in the habit of giving him in his more excitable moments........ 'Oh that's just Steve' he said) and the original come back dates, my first time. We went on to discuss solo stuff, the short lived Zip and the excellent 'Heaven and the Sea'. All great stuff that lifted my mood no end. As we were about to head off in opposite directions he said that I might be interested in some dates that the band were planning for October that would bring the original, the 'classic' and current line ups together for a couple of nights that would celebrate Buzzcocks over their career. In the event, October was optimistic, but the dates went ahead as 'Front to Back in May 2012.

'Enjoy The Stranglers!' he said over his shoulder as he sauntered off.


  1. i was the same as you Adrian, got the news via text. All our heroes are dying far too young don't you think. God bless Shelley though, a true original...hope he didn't suffer

  2. Thanks for your story
    I never saw Pete other than on stage
    Wish I had
    I'm very sad
    Thanks also for those recordings, memories from a better time

  3. Lovely post Ade. 63; blimey. A mate of mine just passed around the 50 mark. Guess we've just got to grab it while we can.