The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

Terry Hall

Shocking news this evening with the death of Terry Hall, lead singer in The Specials, at just 63. A great musical talent and son of Coventry taken from us unexpectedly. For those of you who came of age at the very dawn of the 1980s, this will no doubt be a moment of profound grief. Because it was the music of The Specials that defined the struggles of our generation. It was no accident that the single Ghost Town was number one in the pop charts as the UK drifted into a summer of riots in 1981.

I met Terry Hall while working with Neville Staple, vocalist in The Specials, on his biography Original Rude Boy. Can’t claim that I struck up a great rapport. He was backstage at the Brixton Academy on one occasion and at a photo shoot another time. Encounters were fleeting. But it was an honour to meet somebody who influenced and inspired us so much in the early 80s.

FIND OUT MORE: The Specials and the 1981 riots

It’s been very sad to see iconic figures born in the 1940s like David Bowie exit from our lives in recent years. People who we practically venerated as musical gods. To see Terry Hall go way before his time leaves one feeling very empty. And of course, The Specials also lost drummer John Bradbury back in 2015. Well, it certainly makes me value my friendship with Neville and his wife Christine that much more. More than ever we need the message of hope and unity that The Specials championed forty years ago. The 2Tone light must be kept burning bright.

One thought on “Terry Hall from The Specials – 1959-2022

  1. William Bennett says:

    Still can’t walk down a deserted high street, past boarded up shops (esp. in the last couple of years), without the lyrics of Ghost Town going through my head. Still love the bitter sweet Our Lips Are Sealed.

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