Their lyrics lamented the loss of Leon Trotsky, Shakespeare and Sancho Panza to name a few.
They certainly picked a rum bunch of heroes. I mean, come on, Sancho Panza, servant to that loopy, windmill chaser, Don Quixote. OK, so he was smart and funny, but he wasn’t even real.
Still, The Stranglers ask a valid question. What has happened to all the heroes? In this Facebook age do we even have time for them?
As I'm about to hit 50 I am perhaps the last generation, who, as young children, were able to hero worship explorers without being seen as a freak. Well, not too much of a freak.
At my school the teachers spoke of the great explorers as if they were Gods. Captain Robert Falcon Scott was still lionized for his heroic death on the way back from the South Pole in 1912. His noble teammate, Captain ‘might be gone some time’ Oates, even more so.
As for their Norwegian rival, Roald Amundsen, pah! He only won the race to the pole because he ate his own dogs, the brute! Well, that was according to Mr Johnson, our history teacher, who spoke and even looked, alarmingly like General Melchett.
In truth, except for a few notable exceptions - Apsley Cherry-Garrard and the great Ernest Shackleton - I respected those polar heroes as a boy but never really went mad for them.
Still, the poles were not the only places attracting hearty, devil-may-care adventurers.
What about Doctor David Livingstone in Africa? Now there was a hero in the classic mould: a fearless traveller, cartographer, missionary and lion slayer if ever there was.
As children we were urged to revere him - and at the time we did - unaware that the old rogue bedded dozens of tribal girls and didn’t manage to convert a single African to love Jesus. Knowing all that as a schoolboy would have made him infinitely more interesting.But, as it was, I soon got fed up with the seemingly perfect Doctor and his polar contemporaries and their tales of icy glory.
My loyalties were won over by Adam and the Ants instead - hey, don’t knock them, they were the Kings of the Wild Frontier for about 10 minutes in 1980.
And yet, there was one explorer who eclipsed the whole lot of them: Scott, Oates, Livingstone and Adam and all his Ants. Indeed, after reading a book about this new hero of mine, he became an obsession. He even outshone Debbie Harry in my affection. (Ouch! Perhaps I was a freak after all).
The man in question was a young Scottish doctor with an adventurous heart and unforgettable name.
That name was Mungo Park.
While still in his early twenties Park was recruited as an explorer by the Africa Association, a group of 18th century movers and shakers, to sail to what was then known as The Dark Continent. Incredibly, back in 1795, parts of the moon were better mapped than Africa.
Park’s job was to unearth the secrets of the mysterious River Niger. The Niger was a geographical odd ball. Rather than flowing towards the sea like most rivers, it flowed directly towards the Sahara Desert.
Nobody knew this at the time. Well, except the locals, who had known for centuries.
Park landed on the Gambian coast and, like most explorers of the day, was instantly felled by malaria. Unlike most explorers, though, it didn’t kill him. The hardy Scot soon shrugged it off and struck out alone towards the Niger.
Park slogged through the bush using his waistcoat buttons as currency. Some tribes, never having seen a white man, thought he had been dipped in milk, others that had the eyes of a cat. Some worshipped him, others tried to kill him, but through luck and titanic willpower he endured.
While most African explorers’ diaries boast of conquering natives and wild beasts – hands up Henry Morton Stanley - Park is all too human in his travel notes. He often cries with despair, loneliness and at the kindness of African villagers. He freely admits he is terrified of lions.
At one stage, sun baked and alone, Park was sure he was a goner. Out of nowhere a rainstorm let rip, enabling him to suck moisture from his clothes, and push on.
Park settled down in the Borders, married his childhood sweetheart and had four children. He resumed his job as a doctor and wrote a journal of his adventures, Travels Into the Interior of Africa, an instant best seller, still in print today.
But Park’s story did not end well when, in 1805, he returned to the Niger. Rather than travelling alone, this time he was accompanied by a posse of soldiers; boat builders, and other hangers-on. The happy go lucky wanderer of a decade before had turned more imperialist.
Park’s once trusting nature vanished on this new trip: instead of bonding with locals, he shot at them. He was ambushed in Nigeria, not far from his goal - the River Niger’s source - and drowned. He was 35.
In some ways Park was the first celebrity explorer of Africa, long before Livingstone, Stanley and Burton. And, like many a modern celebrity, it was fame swelling his head that led to his downfall.
Yet, Travels Into the Interior of Africa still remains a treasured book for me. Yes, Park screwed up later in life, but there’s no denying his 1795 journey is one of the most extraordinary of all time.
So, Mungo Park (like Adam Ant) is a hero from another age. Along with the likes of Scott and Livingstone, he was once beyond reproach, portrayed as a perfect, sin free superman. Heroic. Matchless.
Those days are gone, of course. The old heroes are all fair game now. The balance has swayed against them, with many of their reputations taking a pasting.
Look no further than Horatio Nelson, another poster boy of my youth. The legendary sailor was clearly a lion-hearted genius on the waves - but is now viewed by many as often a fool ashore.
A few years ago my daughter had to write down her heroes for a school project. Almost all the class wrote about sporting champs, actors, pop stars, their family and friends. One girl wrote about Nelson Mandela, who was still alive then, another about The Queen.
Nobody chose any explorers. Nor did they choose Florence Nightingale, Churchill, Gandhi or Martin Luther King - and that’s fine. These people were all extraordinary, of course, but my daughter’s friends chose to write about people real to them, who they knew, had seen on the TV, warts and all.
So yes, Mungo Park was once my main man. I still see him as a fine explorer, full of pluck, who wrote a humble and inspiring diary. But he’s not the superman he once was.
“No more heroes any more! No more heroes any more!” blasted out The Stranglers at the end of their song.
Well, only deeply flawed ones, and that’s a good thing.