TR+ Extended Interview – Welcome Back: Hugh Cornwell
The punk pioneer returns with a collection of his finest post-Stranglers songs. And a gig with Ginger Baker.
As frontman-songwriter with The Stranglers from the mid-70s to 1990, punk provocateur Hugh Cornwell was responsible for some of the defining anthems of the era, from Peaches to No More Heroes and beyond.
It was a tenure also marked by riots, drugs and incendiary live shows. Twenty-five years have now passed since he quit the band for a more low-key, though no less varied, solo career, as he releases a sparkling new compilation, The Fall And Rise Of Hugh Cornwell. Classic Rock catches him hanging around…
How did you whittle down all your solo work to just thirteen tracks?
The guy at the record company is a big fan and wanted to do it. He said he had strong ideas about what tracks he wanted from each album. There are a couple of tracks from my first solo album, Wolf, which came out in 1988, but the rest of it is post-Stranglers. And it sounds great. I’m glad someone else did it, because it would’ve been very difficult for me to compile.
Your solo career didn’t begin promisingly. Virgin dropped you after the release of Wolf, and there were record label problems around the time of 1993’s follow-up, Wired. Was it a trying time?
It was very frustrating. And doubly so with Virgin, because when they dropped me I was actually in America doing a promotional tour. The publicity team in New York were just starting to get some reaction, then I walked in one morning and they went: “We don’t know what to say, but we’ve just had word from London that you’ve been dropped.” It was a point in Virgin’s history when the accountants, rather than the creative people, sat down and looked at the figures. They saw mine and said: “He’s gotta go