Back in 2009 after working with Neville Staple on his biography, I joined The Specials backstage at the 02 Academy in Brixton – here’s a great shot of the chaps.
As you may know – I wrote Neville Staple of The Specials’ biography which was published in paperback this year – Original Rude Boy. Came as a bit of a surprise to discover that Neville was a bit of a lad back in the day and I mean burglaries, fights with knives and other bad behaviour, or what he calls “Neville things”.
He was a real Rude Boy and there’s no doubting it. Some of the stories you can expect to find in Original Rude Boy:
- Neville’s rough childhood and how he battled through it
- How he met future Specials roadies Trevor and Rex
- The amazing sound system scene and his system, Jah Baddis
- Why Neville ended up doing a stint in borstal
- When he first met the Coventry Automatics
- Going on the road with the 2Tone bands
- Being managed by Bernie Rhodes
- What it was like hanging out with the legendary Jerry Dammers
- Why did The Specials split?
- What he really thought about Fun Boy Three
- Forming the Neville Staple Band and taking ska on the road
- The Americans who picked up the 2Tone flame
Few remember but 1983 was a year of pop carnage. Bands that were going to dominate the 1980s nosedived in to the ground like the Hindenburg. Most shocking was the decision by Fun Boy Three to go their separate ways when it seemed they’d only left The Specials yesterday morning.
I wrote Neville Staple’s biography and for him, the phone call from Terry Hall was a bit of a surprise. Ultimately it let Neville return to the 2Tone sound and get away from the bouncy bubblegum pop of Fun Boy Three. The demise of that trio was just the start of the year’s musical bloodshed.
ABBA’s demise was not so surprising – many of their later songs seemed to be about their divorce court proceedings in heavy code. And thank God the Bay City Rollers pulled down the shutters – how on earth did they survive punk, let alone the 1970s? A few short years later, ABBA would enjoy a revival in popularity without reforming. Such good fortune didn’t come to the Rollers.
And then there was Roxy Music – when the LP Avalon was released, it seemed they were at the top of their game again, but all too soon they called it a day. One of the greatest combos of the 70s, a highly intelligent art school pop band, had gone. No more Pyjamarama! Not until they reformed in 2001.
The Human League wobbled through 1983, nearly coming to an end then struggling past the end of the year to release Lebanon in 1984. Some reports thought they’d gone in 1983 but they held out. Shame as Dare was such a great album at the start of the 80s.
Scritti Politti had been hailed as the future in 1982 but became the past in 1983. Off went Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Wah! – two bands I thought would have a longer lifespan. Dexy’s had toured with the 2Tone bus at the start of the decade.
Altered Images called it a day. In fact, I remember seeing Clare Grogan hanging round the Cambridge pub in Liverpool one day but I didn’t buy her a drink. Yazoo – gone in May, 1983. Female vocalist Alison Moyet continued with a solo career.
Looking back now, you can see that an era was slowly coming to an end. The post-punk explosion of youth cults like mod, 2Tone, New Wave, futurist, etc, etc…would soon give way to new sounds and new bands.