The Specials’ ska and new wave pioneer Terry Hall has passed away at the age of 63

Terry Hall of the Specials performing at the Rock Against Racism show, Potternewton Park, Leeds, 4th July 1981. (Photo: David Corio/Redferns)

Terry Hall of the Specials performing at the Rock Against Racism show, Potternewton Park, Leeds, 4th July 1981. (Photo: David Corio/Redferns)

Terry Hall, frontman of one of the most influential British new wave bands of the 1980s, the Specials, has passed away following a brief, undisclosed illness, according to his bandmates. He was 63 years old.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, after a short illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced,” the Specials tweeted Monday. “Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest and most genuine souls. His music and performances capture the essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but most of all love. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him and he leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and deep humanity. Terry often left the stage at the end of the Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words… ‘Love Love Love.’”

Terence Edward Hall was born on March 19, 1959 in Coventry, Warwickshire, England. At the age of 12, he was kidnapped by a gang of pedophiles and subjected to sexual abuse, which led to him battling depression and addictions throughout his life. He was diagnosed as manic-depressive after attempting suicide in 2004, but in a 2019 interview for comedian Richard Herring’s “Leicester Square Theatre” podcast, he stated matter-of-factly: “It’s a shame it happened to me, but you can’t let it just destroy your life Hall dropped out of school at 15 and quickly became a fixture of the late 1970s Coventry music scene when he was 18 years old and joined the Specials (originally the called Coventry Automatics).

In 1979, after the release of their Elvis Costello-produced self-titled debut album on their own 2-Tone label and backing from Joe Strummer of the Clash and DJ John Peel of BBC Radio 1, the Specials found themselves at the forefront of British ska music. revival – along with Madness, the Beat and the Selecter. The group’s multiracial lineup (including Neville Staple, Lynval Golding, Roddy Radiation, Horace Panter, Jerry Dammers, and John Bradbury); activism through organizations like Rock Against Racism; and socio-political messages all resonated deeply with disenfranchised British youth during the bleak and tense Thatcher era. For example, ‘Rat Race’ was a scathing critique of privileged university students, while ‘Ghost Town’, released during the recession and amid race-related unemployment riots in Brixton and Liverpool, became the Specials’ signature song.

Reflecting on the formation of the Specials during an interview with Yahoo Entertainment in 2019, Hall recalled, “We were all unemployed. In the area we lived in, Coventry, the manufacturing industries were all closed and there were absolutely no jobs. Growing up in the 1960s, every child was in the same profession as their father or mother and there were all open invitations to work, but that stopped in the mid-1970s. It was a very, very gray place. And I think with the advent of punk, it said to kids, ‘There’s something you can do. I’m not sure where it will lead, but why don’t you band together and why don’t you talk about how you feel?’ And we all did, more or less, after seeing the Pistols and the Clash.

Hall also told Yahoo that he was surprised that so many people cared about the Specials’ integrated lineup, saying, “We didn’t mind because when I was growing up I went to a school that was probably 70% West -Indian and Asian We all grew up in the same area and went to the same places For me one of the funniest first reviews we got was when the Guardian pointed out that we were a multiracial band, and it was like, ‘Yeah, van Class we are. Um, here’s our picture!’”

The Specials charted seven top 10 UK singles during their initial run, and today The special offers is considered a historic recording and appears on Pitchfork’s list of the greatest albums of the 1970s and on NME’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. But by 1982, Hall had left the Specials to form the more pop-leaning Fun Boy Three with Staple and Golding. Fun Boy Three went on to score six top 20 singles in the UK, one of which, “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)”, helped launch the career of girl group Bananarama. (Fun Boy Three later provided backing vocals to Bananarama’s top five single “Really Saying Something”.) Hall also wrote the Go-Go’s first hit, “Our Lips Are Sealed”, with Jane Wiedlin, whom he had dated. a brief fling while the Go-Go’s were on tour with the Specials in 1980. Fun Boy Three broke up in 1983 after the release of their second album, the David Byrne-produced Waiting.

After the breakup of the original Specials, the remaining members recorded and toured under the names Special AKA and Special Beat, while Hall engaged in various musical projects and collaborations, including the Colourfield, the Lightning Seeds, Vegas (with Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart), and two solo albums. Over the course of his career, Hall has also worked with Damon Albarn, Sinéad O’Connor, Dub Pistols, D12, Tricky, Junkie XL, Lily Allen and Shakespears Sister, and Toots and the Maytals; the latest record, 2004’s True lovewon a Grammy for Best Reggae Album.

Inspired by the hugely successful reunion of the Pixies in 2004, Hall finally decided to reunite with his former Specials bandmates in 2008, and the group toured extensively. But it wasn’t until February 2019 that they released a new studio album, Encorefeaturing the Specials’ first new material with Hall since 1981. The LP also featured a spoken-word performance by then 20-year-old “accidental activist” Saffiyah Khan, who had gone viral after a photo of Khan (who was wearing a Specials T- shirt) defending a Muslim woman against EDL members in Birmingham, England.

Encore was critically acclaimed and debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, making it the highest-grossing album of the Specials’ career. A compilation of covers, Protest Songs 1924–2012, followed and peaked at number 2 in the UK; this turned out to be the last Specials album to feature Hall’s vocals. A reggae record by the band was reportedly in the works, but that project was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Encore‘s release, Hall admitted to Yahoo Entertainment that the Specials’ comeback album “came about at a very unfortunate time” and that he experienced déjà vu “every day” as he witnessed what was going on with Brexit and Trump. “When we made the first Specials record there was a female Prime Minister – a Tory – and today there is a female Prime Minister Tory [Theresa May],” he said. “At the time, our closest allies on the other side of the Atlantic had an ex-movie star [Ronald Reagan] who rode horses as their president. Today, your president… well, I have no idea. I can’t even get started on that. But it just feels exactly the same. … It’s actually gotten a lot worse.

Clearly, the Specials’ message is still connected on both sides of the pond: two months later Encore‘s release, they were honored at their own ‘Specials Day’ ceremony in Los Angeles, where alderman and obvious Specials fan Monica Rodriguez stated, ‘The late ’70s was a time of racial tension, but the Specials were Black white artists and their lyrics encouraged racial harmony while celebrating our many differences.

Terry Hall is survived by his wife, director Lindy Heymann, and his three sons.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Continue following Lyndsey Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *