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Terry Hall R.I.P.

Terry Hall, frontman of the monumental British Two-tone group The Specials, passed away on Sunday 18th December.


A group that changed the face of music forever by combining punk, ska, and reggae.

They symbolized the diversity of Britain and merged black and white culture on stage like never before. Being one of the first successful mixed-race groups, their lyrics and attitude spoke for the youth of Britain who was up until this point unheard.


The Specials

Born in Coventry in the year 1959 Terry joined The Specials 1977 along with fellow frontman Neville Staple. He was known never to smile. There were rumors that he had some sort of deformation, and others just say it was an act, either way, his demeanor along with his distinct voice, brought a ferociously sad tone to the stage, which perfectly embodied the youth he was speaking to and for. The way in which his voice pinches every lyric, makes you listen to each word meticulously, and with songs such as ‘Rat Race’, ‘Too Much Too Young’, 'Message To You Rudy' the danceable tracks weren’t only floor fillers but valuable lessons to the youth.



During the time The Specials came about Britain was ruled by Thatcher and neoliberalism, the youth felt disenfranchised and with the rise of the far right, they were only seeing one way to turn. Through music, and Terry's voice, The Specials showed another path.


Coventry, where Terry was raised was a melting point of culture, and there was already a large cohesion of black and white culture. Listening to each other's music, and eating each other's food. What The Specials and Two-Tone did was simply represent what was going on in their lives at the time, and put it on a stage.


Syd Shelton Photography

To this day The Specials carry this ethos with them, still touring and making music they released their last album 'Protest Songs (1924–2012) ' in 2021, and sadly were in the process of making another before Terry's death.


Terry up until his death was an activist of sorts. Speaking out on social and political injustices and discontent, his anarchist attitude never withered.




It is obvious what this music did for Britain up until this day, creating a platform for rebel music, in a new hybrid form, that not only opposed but united.


We can see the influence and impact Terry had on some of the greatest artists of this day with The Gorillaz, Sleaford Mods, Billy Bragg, The Libertines, New Order, Rowetta, Lol Tolhurst of The Cure, and many more paying their respects.



I found myself getting filled with emotion while writing this piece, for me personally, The Specials were the group that opened my eyes to how important music is for society and what can be achieved through it. What they have done for Britain and beyond, through music, is truly beautiful and will continue generation after generation.


In losing Terry we have lost a voice that spoke for so many.

Thank-you Terry, for all you have done and all you will do.


Love, love, love.

 

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James Brown
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