As singer and guitarist for The Stranglers from 1974 to 1990, Hugh Cornwell helped usher out the era of British pub rock to make way for punk rock, new wave and goth—the band was one of the opening acts for the Ramones' legendary first London show. Since 1979, he has also been releasing albums as a solo artist. His latest, Hooverdam, is available for free download at hughcornwell.com. He'll be headlining the final performance of the West by Southwest festival, at Club Congress on Wednesday, March 24; $8, or entry with $30 WXSW wristband; more info at 622-8848.
What was the first concert you ever saw?
Chuck Berry, supported by the Swinging Blue Jeans, The Animals, The Moody Blues and the Nashville Teens at the Finsbury Park Astoria. I thought, "If this is rock 'n' roll, count me in!"
What are you listening to these days?
Mostly bebop jazz—you know, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre, Nat Adderley.
What was the first album you owned?
Cliff Sings by Cliff Richard. I know, not very hip, but I had all of his early singles, which were great, so I rushed out to buy it, not knowing that it had eight ballads on it!
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?
Sorry, but there are too many to mention! I got no favorites these days.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
Early Soft Machine with Kevin Ayers, Mike Ratledge and Robert Wyatt.
Musically speaking, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
Ending rehearsals early.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
My own song "Cadiz."
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
Richard Thompson taught me how to play bass when we were kids growing up on the same street.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
No gun needed: Soft Machine's first album.