Okay, here’s a really ridiculous one.
Some time back — when I was spending more time on Tumblr — I came across a photo of one of my favorite bands, that being The Stranglers. Yeah, I know, big whoop. That said, what made this photograph special to me was that it was clearly taken here in New York. Here’s the photo in question. Sadly, I have no idea who took it.
Back in the day, so to speak, the Stranglers came to these shores like all the other bands from their milieu, and dutifully played around town. In fact, here's another shot of the band in NYC, this one taken by the great Marcia Resnick.
Then, for some reason — doubtlessly financial — the Stranglers stopped coming to the States. I suppose they figured that it wasn’t worth the time and expenditure to try and “crack America,” so they stopped touring here. They did return, however, last year (albeit without long-absent original lead singer Hugh Cornwell, but that’s a saga for another thread) and played the Highline Ballroom. I was there, and my mouth still hurts from grinning so hard.
Anyway, given the comparatively youthful demeanor depicted in the top photograph of the band in what looks like a city park, I’m assuming the photo was taken at some point in the mid-80’s, when Hugh was still in the band.
The giveaway that it was taken in New York City is the architecture pictured in the background. When I first glanced at it, I almost immediately recognized it. Look at the distinctive stairwell (just behind bassist Jean Jacques Burnell’s head) that snakes up the exterior of the building on the left and culminates just beneath the rooftop water tower….that’s a bit of New York City if I’ver ever seen it.
I also believed I knew the exact spot. Being that I walk through it virtually every day as I’m bringing my kids to school, Gramercy Park seemed like the most logical assumption. For a start, throughout the 80’s, the Gramercy Park Hotel was the go-to spot for bands like the Stranglers (you’ll remember I made a similar discovery about the Gramercy with Iron Maiden). It would make perfect sense that the band were staying there (there is documentation that they did stay at the hotel), and then taken directly outside for a photo shoot, much like the `Maiden boys. I figured I’d solved the case.
Wanting to be sure, though, I went and took a look.
I didn’t snap a picture, but take a look at this Google image of Gramercy Park, specifically the buildings in the background….
That’s the building I assumed was pictured behind the Stranlgers (looking west from the mouth of Lexington Avenue), but obviously something is wrong. It doesn’t match up.
Then I took another look at the original photo.
Take another look at lead singer Hugh Cornwell there. Here’s a closer look.
Here’s a later shot of Hugh.
And here’s one more.
This is ridiculously granular, but dear old Hugh has a little bit of a bulbous blemish on the side of his mouth (this coming from someone whose physiognomy is riddled with hills, valleys, bubbles and bumps). If you take a look at the image in the first photo, said bump appears to the left side of Hugh’s handsome mug. But, if you examine those later photos of the singer/songwriter/guitarist, you’ll notice the bump is on the right.
Smell what I’m cooking?
THE ORIGINAL PHOTO IS REVERSED!
So, it SHOULD look like THIS!
…and those ARE the same buildings (the rear of two buildings on Park Avenue) in the background.
So, yes, the Stranglers were indeed standing in the middle of Gramercy Park.
Glad we cleared that up.
Here they are firing on all cylinders from roughly the same era as this photograph!