The SPECIALS Singer Terry Hall Passes Away, Aged 63

Posted: December 20, 2022 in MUSIC

Terry Hall, singer of UK pop and ska band The Specials, has died aged 63 following a “brief illness”. Terry Hall, the lead singer of the Specials and a former member of Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield, has died aged 63, his bandmates in the Specials have confirmed.

“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 announced on social media. 

They added, “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’.” The band then asked for fans to respect the Hall family’s privacy.

“Ghost Town”, the recession-themed single released in 1981, hit top spot in the UK. As well as performing with The Specials, Hall collaborated with numerous artists, such as Sinéad O’Connor, Gorillaz, Tricky, Bananarama, Lily Allen, and many more acts. 

Hall joined the first incarnation of the Specials – then called the Automatics – shortly after the Coventry band formed in 1977, replacing vocalist Tim Strickland. After a stint as the Coventry Automatics, they became Special AKA, known as the Specials. The pioneering 2 Tone band rose thanks to the support of Joe Strummer, who invited them to support the Clash live, and of BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel.

They released their debut single, “Gangsters” (a reworking of Prince Buster’s Al Capone) in 1979, which reached No 6 in the UK singles chart. They would 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, written by the band’s main songwriter, Jerry Dammers, dealt with Britain’s urban decay, unemployment and disfranchised youth.

At 12 years old, Hall was abducted by a paedophile ring in France; the singer told Richard Herring on his podcast. “I was sort of drugged up then on Valium for about a year, and I didn’t go to school,” Hall added, noting that he dropped out of school at 14 due to his trauma.

He sang the words “You took me to France on the promise of teaching me French” on the 1983 Fun Boy Three song, “Well Fancy That”, alluding to what happened to him. “I can laugh about it now, but it sort of switched something in my head, and it’s like I don’t have to do that, and that’s when I started not listening to anyone,” Hall told Herring. The singer also discussed trauma with The Big Issue. Having survived a tough childhood in Coventry, Hall became one of pop’s defining voices at the turn of the 80s, chronicling British decline and disfranchised youth with the 2 Tone band

The Specials were a celebration of how British culture was envigorated by Caribbean immigration but the onstage demenour of their lead singer was a reminder that they were in the serious business of challenging our perception of who we were in the late 1970s. RIP Terry Hall,” Billy Bragg wrote on Twitter. 

Singer Belinda Carlisle also paid tribute to Hall, noting, “Forever bound in music history with #terryhall. He co-wrote the breakout hit, “Our Lips Are Sealed” with Jane Wiedlin.

Folk punk singer Frank Turner also chimed in and tweeted: “God damnit. Just heard the news about Terry Hall. What an absolute sadness. The Specials were one of the most important bands for me as a kid. Taught me many things I needed to know. Gutted. RIP.”

Portishead and Beak multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow shared his tribute, too: “This is very very sad news

“It’s time to put the specials where they belong as one of the greatest British bands ever.

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