Two Tone ska revival band The Specials have announced that frontman Terry Hall has passed away following a brief illness. He was 63. Taking to social media, they honored their iconic singer as “a beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced.”
The band had asked that “everyone respect the family’s privacy at this very sad time.”
The Specials established themselves in the late ’70s and early ’80s with their patented mix of deadpan vocal delivery matched by stone-faced intensity, interesting basslines, almost Middle Eastern-style motifs, rocksteady beat, and socially conscious lyrics. They churned out a string of hit records including Rat Race; A Message To You; Too Much; Two Young; and Ghost Town, which hit number one. Their first lineup consisted of Terry Hall and Neville Staple on vocals, Lynval Golding and Roddy Radiation on guitars, Horace Panter on bass, Jerry Dammers on keyboards, John Bradbury on drums, and Dick Cuthell and Rico Rodriguez on horns.
The band split in 1981, with bandmates Hall, Golding, and Staple forming Fun Boy Three. Hall wrote the Go Go’s hit song “Our Lips Are Sealed” with guitarist Jane Wiedlin, and in 1983 Fun Boy Three released their version.
The Specials announced a reunion tour in 2008, and in that same year Hall and five other bandmates performed an unannounced slot at Bestival music festival under “Very Special Guests.” In 2009, they kicked off a 30th anniversary tour supporting none other than The Rolling Stones at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.