The Specials lead singer Terry Hall dies at 63 after 'brief illness'

The band, who were pioneers of the ska scene in the UK, released a statement on Monday confirming the singer's passing.

Terry Hall, lead singer of The Specials, has died at the age of 63, the band has announced.

The singer-songwriter rose to fame as part of the band, who were pioneers of the ska scene in the UK.

A statement released the band’s official Twitter account on Monday said: “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’.

“We would ask that everyone respect the family’s privacy at this very sad time.”

Bandmate Neville Staple tweeted he was “deeply saddened” to hear about Hall’s death, saying: “We knew Terry had been unwell but didn’t realise how serious until recently. We had only just confirmed some 2023 joint music agreements together. This has hit me hard.”

He added: “In the music World, people have many ups and downs, but I will hang onto the great memories of Terry and I, making history fronting The Specials and Fun Boy three together. Rest easy Terry Hall”

The Specials were formed in Hall’s home city of Coventry in 1977, by Jerry Dammers, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter – with Hall, Staple, Roddy Byers and John Bradbury joining a year later.

The band were originally called The Automatics, before changing their name to The Coventry Automatics, The Specials AKA The Automatics and finally, in 1978, settling on The Specials.

The band made a name with their ska and rocksteady style, and for providing a musical backdrop to economic recession, urban decay and societal fracture in the early 1980s.

During their time together, The Specials produced a string of hit records including A Message To You, Rudy, Rat Race and Ghost Town, which reached number one.

The band split in 1981, after which Hall, Golding and Staple went on to form Fun Boy Three, while Dammers and Bradbury released an album under the moniker The Special AKA, which spawned the hit single Free Nelson Mandela in 1984.

Fun Boy Three achieved four UK top 10 singles during their time together, until Hall left the band in 1983 to form The Colourfield with ex-Swinging Cats members Toby Lyons and Karl Shale.

After undertaking a variety of solo and collaborative projects – Hall worked with the likes of Lily Allen – it was announced in 2008 that The Specials would be reforming for a number of tour dates and potential new music.

In September that year, Hall and five members of the band performed at Bestival music festival under the name Very “Special” Guests.

In 2009 he reflected on the performance, saying: “Bestival was a trial run. We did an unannounced slot so we could just could turn up, nameless. It was perfect.”

The Specials embarked on a 2009 tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary and in 2018 supported The Rolling Stones during a concert at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

In February 2019, The Specials released Encore, their first album of new material in 37 years.

Upon release, the album went straight to number one on the Official UK Album Chart, marking their first number one album, and the first time they had topped the charts since their classic track Ghost Town in 1981 and since their single Too Much Too Young became a number one in 1980.

The album’s lead single, the politically-themed Vote For Me, was considered by some fans as a follow-on from Ghost Town, which was hailed as a piece of popular social commentary having been released during the riots across England in 1981.

Hall told The Big Issue magazine in 2019: “I find myself in awe of the mess, nightly listening to politicians giving their opinion and thinking, I don’t necessarily trust any of you, really.

“It is pretty sad. I grew up aligned to a party, the Labour Party, quite strongly. Until Tony Blair made Noel Gallagher prime minister I knew exactly where I stood.”