The Specials frontman has died at the age of 63 following a short illness it has been confirmed.
Terry Hall was the front man of the first incarnation of the widely regarded and revered 2tone ska band, the Specials.
The band was first formed in Coventry in 1977. After a short stint as the Coventry Automatics, the band became known as Special AKA, or the Specials. They were the pioneering 2 Tone band who won the hearts and early support of Joe Strummer, who invited them to support the Clash live, and of BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel.
After gaining a fearsome live reputation at home, the band rose to national prominence after John Peel played their debut single, ‘Gangsters’, on his Radio 1 show which was released in 1979 and which was a reworking of Prince Buster’s Al Capone. The track reached No 6 in the UK singles chart.
The band continued to dominate the Top 10 over the next two years, peaking with their second No 1 single, and calling card, Ghost Town, in 1981. The lyrics of which hit home with the disfranchised youth of Britain at the time telling tales of urban decay and mass unemployment.
Its popularity peaked in early summer 1981 as riots between young Black people and police were erupting across the UK in response to racist discrimination and the use of stop-and-search tactics. It remained at No 1 for three weeks, spending 10 weeks in the Top 40, and is widely considered one of the greatest records of all time.
Hall left the Specials in 1981 to form Fun Boy Three with fellow-bandmates Neville Staple and Lynval Golding, which saw him attaining another brace of hits with his sharp wit and poetic, social commentary songwriting skills.
During their career the Specials charted 7 top 10 U.K. singles and today they are considered as one of the top bands of all time, appearing on Pitchfork’s list of the Best Albums of the 1970s and on NME’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Hall’s project with Fun Boy Three went on to rack up six top 20 singles in the U.K.
Over the course of his career, Hall also worked many other musicians including Damon Albarn, Sinéad O’Connor, Dub Pistols, D12, Tricky, Junkie XL, Lily Allen, and Shakespears Sister, and Toots and the Maytals who’s 2004 ‘True Love’, won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
Hall’s former band mates issued the following statement;
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, following a brief illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced.
Terry was a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest, and most genuine of souls. His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life… the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but mostly the love.
He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him and leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and profound humanity.
Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words… “Love Love Love”
Terry will be much missed by his friends, family and the music community at large. His legacy will live forever through the music he gave us. RIP Terry Hall – 1959-2022
Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans at this time x