Two-Tone Pioneer and Activist Dead at 63
Other members of modern 2-tone pioneers The Specials have confirmed that lead vocalist Terry Hall has died at the age of 63 after a fighting a "brief illness."
“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,” the band expressed via Twitter.
Hall was a founding member of The Specials and later went on to perform with bands such as Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield, and more.
Hall was born on 19 March 1959 in Coventry, England, where he was also raised. Hall was abducted by a paedophile ring on a trip to France at the age of 12. He left school before his fifteenth birthday, taking various short-term jobs, such as a bricklayer, quantity surveyor, and apprentice hairdresser.
Hall became an active member of the burgeoning Coventry music scene of the late 1970s, playing in a local punk band called Squad and being credited as a composer on their "Red Alert" single.
In 1980, Hall had a brief romantic relationship with Jane Wiedlin of the band the Go-Gos. Together, they wrote the song "Our Lips Are Sealed". Hall had two sons with his first wife, Jeanette Hall, and another son with his second wife, Lindy Heymann.
Following a suicide attempt in 2004, Hall was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Hall died on 18 December 2022, following a brief illness, at the age of 63.
The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2 tone and ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry. After some early changes, the first stable lineup of the group 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 horn. Their music combines a "danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude". Lyrically, they present a "more focused and informed political and social stance".
The Specials began at the same time as Rock Against Racism, which was first organised in 1978. According to Dammers, anti-racism was intrinsic to the formation of the Specials, in that the band was formed with the goal of integrating black and white people. Many years later Dammers stated that "Music gets political when there are new ideas in music, ...punk was innovative, so was ska, and that was why bands such as the Specials and the Clash could be political."
Two-tone or 2 tone is a genre of British popular music of the late 1970s and early 1980s that fused traditional Jamaican ska music with elements of punk rock and new wave music. Its name derives from 2 Tone Records, a record label founded in 1979 by Jerry Dammers of The Specials, and references a desire to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain: many two-tone groups, such as The Specials, The Selecter, and The Beat, featured a mix of Black, white, and multiracial people.
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