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Terry Hall Of The Specials Dies Aged 63

Tuesday, 20 December 2022 Written by Jon Stickler

Terry Hall has died aged 63.

The Specials frontman, and a former member of Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield, died after a brief illness, The Specials said in a statement. Breaking the news on social media, the band 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."

Born in 1959 and raised in Coventry, Hall found fame during the 1970s and '80s. The Specials, who were originally called The Automatics, were formed by Jerry Dammers, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter in Hall's hometown in 1977, with Hall, Neville Staple, Roddy Byers and John Bradbury joining a year later. Pioneers of the ska scene in the UK, their biggest hits include the socially aware Ghost Town and Too Much, Too Young. 

The Specials went their separate ways in 1981, with Hall going on to form Fun Boy Three with his bandmates Staple and Golding. Two years later, Hall departed to form The Colourfield, before embarking on a solo career and taking on collaborative projects.

In 2008, Hall reunited with The Specials for a tour. They performed at the 2012 London Olympics closing concert, and put out their first number one album, 'Encore', in 2019. Their comeback plans were then halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, Hall decided to release an album of covers, 'Protest Songs', inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Staple led the tributes to his bandmate, saying he was "deeply saddened" to hear about Hall's death, adding that they had only just confirmed some joint musical projects for 2023: "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."

Jane Wiedlin, guitarist and co-founder of The Go-Go’s, who co-wrote the band's breakout hit Our Lips Are Sealed with Hall, joined Staple in mourning his death. She wrote on Twitter: "Gutted to hear of the passing of #terryhall. He was a lovely, sensitive, talented and unique person. Our extremely brief romance resulted in the song Our Lips Are Sealed, which will forever tie us together in music history. Terrible news to hear this."

Punk-folk artist Frank Turner revealed on Twitter that The Specials were one of the most important figures of his childhood: "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."

Folk singer Billy Bragg wrote about Hall's cultural impact on Britain in the 1970s, tweeting: "The Specials were a celebration of how British culture was invigorated by Caribbean immigration but the onstage demeanour 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."


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