A tribute to Strange Tenants drummer Jeff Denny

I was very sad to have learnt a few days ago of the passing of Jeff Denny, drummer for Melbourne ska legends Strange Tenants.

From Strange Tenants’ Facebook page, posted 24 July 2017:

It is with enormous sadness that early Sunday morning 23 July, Strange Tenants farewelled our beloved drummer and brother, Jeff ‘Bongo I Dread’ Denny, after he finally lost his long and courageous battle against cancer. Out of respect to his family, we waited until today to formally announce it.
Those who have seen us perform or who have listened to our many recordings over the past 36 years will know the incredible musical legacy Jeff has left behind. From the moment he joined our band in early 1982, he changed our music and helped us create a unique power ska sound, which we have come to call a ‘militant style’. There’s no other drummer in the world who played ska and reggae rhythms, with such passion and power. The rhythm section of Jeff on drums with Chris Rogers on bass, was absolutely world class and unrivaled by any combination on the planet.
However, more than anything else, Jeff was an integral part of the Strange Tenants band of brothers, and his energy and infectious cheekiness was always on display.  If ever, things got too serious around the band, Jeff would always be the one to crack a joke and lighten the moment for us all. He was always looking forward to the next tour, the next album, or the next gig. He loved playing with the Tenants and we loved playing with him. We have lost a member of our family, but at least Jeff is now at peace. Rest in peace brother Jeff. You will always be in our hearts. xx


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I was a bit of a fan, discovering the band via the Australian music TV program Countdown when the music video for their single ‘Hard Times’ was featured in 1983.

During the summer holidays of that same year, I was at my mum’s place in Lismore, northern New South Wales. I had the radio on, Lismore’s community radio station 2NCR-FM, and the presenter announced that there was a double pass to see Strange Tenants at Bangalow Bowls Club to be won. I phoned in and, to my excitement, won the double pass.

A few days later mum and I went to Bangalow to see Strange Tenants, and despite being only 15 years old I was let in to what was an 18+ gig.

Anyway, the band were off to a flying start, and the punters were really into it, when maybe half an hour in a summer storm struck causing a blackout. It was really disappointing for everybody, until Jeff Denny decided to just jam on drums for a while. For the next half hour or so he played tribal rhythms on his kit like a man possessed, while the lads on brass jammed over his drumming. The gig ended up looking like an ancient ritual with a very typical north coast crowd dancing maniacally, limbs flailing, dreadlocks whipping around, whooping and chanting. Unfortunately the power didn’t come back on and the gig had to be wound down, but there were huge grins on faces as we left the venue. I’ll never forget that night.

Thanks so much for the music Jeff, and may you Rest In Peace.




One comment

  1. Trevor D · July 31

    A absolute legend beating the skins & Driving the beat for a Band that Never failed to incite the dance floor to explode.. RIP Jeff

    Liked by 1 person

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