Terry Hall, Lead Singer for the Specials, Dead at 63

Terry Hall, Lead Singer for the Specials, Dead at 63

Terry Hall, lead singer of English ska revival band The Specials, has died at the age of 63.

The news was confirmed in a social media post on the band’s official accounts.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Terry, our wonderful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singer, songwriter and lyricist this country has ever produced, following a short illness,” the post read. “Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest and most genuine souls. His music and performances embodied the essence of life…the joy, the pain, the humor, the fight for justice, but most of all, love. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him and leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and deep humanity.”

Born and raised in Coventry, Hall was inspired at an early age by singers such as David Bowie, whose album was released in 1975 Young Americans left a deep impression. “I come from a gypsy family and everyone used to sing in bars whether they liked it or not,” Hall explained The guard in 2009. “I didn’t want to be that kind of singer. When I was 16, this album gave me a look, a sound, and a way to hold myself.”

Hall joined the Coventry Automatics, a band that later became the Specials, in the late ’70s. The group’s first success came in 1979 when their song “Gangsters” was played on BBC Radio 1. A reworking of Prince Buster’s 1964 ska song “Al Capone,” the Specials wrote “Gangsters” about an incident that occurred while the band was on tour in France with The Clash: The Specials were fiscally held responsible for hotel damage , allegedly caused by members of the Damned. “Gangsters” became a top 10 hit in the UK

Watch Specials’ Gangsters video

Later in 1979, the Specials released their self-titled debut album, which included two other hits, “A Message to You Rudy” and “Too Much Too Young.” A year later her second album, More special offers, delivered another three hits: “Do Nothing”, “Stereotype” and “Rat Race”. In June 1981, they released “Ghost Town,” a song with themes of disenfranchisement and urban decline that became a #1 hit and a defining song of the era.

Shortly after the release of Ghost Town, Hall left the band to form a new band, Fun Boy Three, with two of his Specials bandmates, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple. They released two hit singles, The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum) and It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It), followed by the album fun boy three, which reached number 7 in the UK Albums Chart. her second album, Waiting, includes “The Tunnel of Love” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which Hall wrote with her friend Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, who had a hit in the States with their version of the song. (“Disemboweled to hear of the passing [Hall]’ Wiedlin continued Twitter after news of Hall’s death. “He was a lovely, sensitive, talented and unique person.”)

Waiting also included a song called “Well Fancy That!” that Hall wrote about his experience as a victim of sexual abuse. When he was 12, Hall was kidnapped by one of his teachers at school, taken to France and turned over to a pedophile ring. “On school trips to France / Well, imagine that / You had a good time / Turned sex into crime‘ he sang in the song.

“It was the first time that making a record or writing a song really spoke to me on a personal level,” Hall explained mojo in 2014. “The response to that was really brilliant because people would communicate with you and say, ‘I’ve been through something similar.'”

Listen to Fun Boy Three’s “Well Fancy That!”

Hall sang in several other bands including Colourfield; Terry, Blair and Anouchka; and Vegas (a duo formed with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics). He has also released solo albums and collaborated with the likes of Toots and the Maytals, Gorillaz and the Dub Pistols.

In 2008, the Specials reunited and began touring again. In 2019 they released a new album – the band’s first new material with reverb since Ghost Town – called encorewhich shot to number 1 in the UK. “Reaching a first number one album in our ’60s restored our faith in humanity,” Hall told The Quietus in 2021. The band released a covers album, Protest Songs 1924–2012also in 2021.

“Age has taught me that silent protest is just as valid,” Hall noted. “I’m at the stage where I’m going to scream out for everyone else who wants unity, love and togetherness, not necessarily literally screaming but speaking on their behalf because I know I’m here to represent them.”

Watch Terry Hall perform “Ghost Town” at his final Specials concert

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