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Terry Hall, a Face of Britain’s Ska Revival, Is Dead at 63

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Terry Hall, frontman of The Specials, a British ska band that blended the energy of pub fights with socially conscious lyrics that explored political and racial tensions in Britain in the late 1970s and early 80s. died on December 18th. he was 63 years old. .

The cause is a former bandmate’s pancreatic cancer Horace Panter Announced on Facebook. The announcement did not say where he died.

After enduring a traumatic childhood, Mr. Hall enjoyed a chart-topping music career.

He built his most enduring legacy as the face of a resurgence of ska, a pop genre that emerged in Jamaica in the 1960s that fused rhythm and blues with Caribbean styles like calypso. .

The Specials were key figures in the movement, along with Madness, Selector, Bad Manners and Beat (or English Beat, as they were known in America to distinguish them from the American band of the same name).

Dressed in Jamaica’s sophisticatedly dressed rude boy fashions – often with tapered suits, skinny ties and pork pie hats – the specials rant about racial injustice, soaring unemployment and ultra-right-wing violence, sweating It left a shy audience. enthusiastically.

Hollow-eyed and callous, Mr. Hall conveyed his anger in a vocal style that often sounded like spitting. tired About to sing

The band released their debut album in 1979, produced by Elvis Costello. This was two years before him when racial unrest rocked cities across Britain. With five white members and two black members, the Specials “was a celebration of how British culture was revitalized by Caribbean immigrants,” said the British singer-songwriter, known for her left-wing politics. Writer Billy Bragg wrote in a social media post after Hall. death.

“But the onstage demeanor of their lead singer was a reminder that they were doing some serious work challenging the perception of us in the late 1970s,” Bragg added. I was.

Hall believed that England needed a band to voice the national anxieties of the time. “What I didn’t realize,” he said 2020 interview With music writer Pete Puffides, “It Was That We Could Be”.

Even when they topped the charts, Hall and the band showed little interest in being part of the London entertainment machine.

Proudly based in Coventry, a desolate industrial city in the West Midlands known for its car factories and its large scale factories. West Indian populationThe Specials paid little lip service to the bubbly trends springing up from the banks of the Thames.

“We have everything we need here,” Hall said in a television interview in 1980. At the time, he was at the height of his fame, but he still lived with his parents. “There’s a studio here, there’s a train station, and that’s enough.”

Regarding London, he said: There’s no point in hanging out in trendy London clubs until 4am. I would like to stay home and watch TV. “

In addition to his star turn in the special, Mr. Hall scored four points. top 10 hits In 1981, he played in the UK with Fun Boy Three, a deadpan and strangely experimental new wave group he formed with other Specials vocalists Linval Golding and Neville Staple. In 1983, the band hit number seven with his cover of “Our Lips Are Sealed.” This was his 1981 Go-Go’s hit, and Mr. Hall briefly dated his band girlfriend Jane Wiedlin.

Terrence Edward Hall was born in Coventry on March 19, 1959. His father Terry Hall Sr. worked at the Rolls-Royce Aviation Factory and his mother Joan worked at the Chrysler factory.

Growing up, Mr. Hall was an outstanding student and football player, but during his youth he battled his inner demons. In 2019, he opened up about his childhood trauma, which he said led him into a spiral of depression and substance abuse that lasted for years.

In an interview with British magazine The Spectator, Hall said: “Hmm, fancy that!” Fun Boy Three’s 1983 song about a tragic sexual encounter, around the time he was kidnapped and abused by his teacher.

“It was about the episode i was kidnapped I was taken to France and sexually abused for four days,” he said. “Then I was punched in the face and left on the side of the road. Life changes at 12. I have the disease today and I will still have it 10 years from now. It’s important to me to talk about it.” is.”

Prescribed Valium to deal with the emotional aftermath, he quickly became addicted. “I mean, I didn’t go to school and I didn’t do anything,” he recalls. “I was sitting in bed shaking for eight months.”

Music was an escape. In the late 1970s, Mr. Hall joined a Coventry punk band called The Squad, which caught the attention of songwriter and keyboardist Jerry Dammers, who was in a band called The Automatics. That band evolved into The Specials, with Mr. Hall taking lead vocals.

“I didn’t even know who was going to play what,” he later said. “We turned all the instruments around until we found one we were comfortable with. I wasn’t happy with any of them, so I became a singer.”

A volatile collection of members with diverse backgrounds and purposes, the Specials unraveled after “Ghost Town.” The remaining members reformed as Special AKA without Mr. Hall and scored a Top 10 hit in 1984 with the uptempo Protest His Song. “Nelson Mandela.”

But Hall’s career wasn’t over yet. He helped form Manchester-based pop band Colorfield in 1984 after Fun Boy Three disbanded. “thinking of you” The following year it reached number 12 in the UK.

In 1990 he formed another band, Terry, Blair & Anouchka, and released one album, Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes. He later formed a band called Vegas with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, and also collaborated with acts such as Lightning Seeds, Gorillaz and others.

Mr. Hall eventually returned to his roots with new incarnations of the Specials, including Mr. Goulding and Mr. Punter, who released the album. “Encore,” In 2019, it dealt with contemporary racial issues, including the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2021, the band will divert from its ska roots, called an album of covers “Protest Songs: 1924-2012” This included a honky-tonk cover of The Staple Singers’ 1965 Civil Rights Anthem. “Freedom Highway” And the Kokufu version of Malvina Reynolds’ “It doesn’t matter if you fail in this world.”

By that year, the band was ready to move forward with their delayed reggae album. However, the Guardian reported in October that the band’s manager, Steve Blackwell, revealed that Hall had pancreatic cancer. spread to his liverNo treatment could stop the disease.

Hall is survived by his second wife, Lindy Heyman. their son, Orson. and two sons, Theo and Felix, from a first marriage that ended in divorce.

By the end of his life, Mr. Hall wasn’t entirely free from his demons, but he had made some peace with himself and his role as a half-pleasured pop star.

When asked by Spectator magazine if he enjoyed the performance, he replied: that’s why i do it.

he fixed it right away. “I’m actually enjoying that thing on stage. Looking back, there’s Horace and Lynval, who I know best in my life, sharing something. That’s my night out. Not much.” Please don’t go out.”

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