It’s a great nostalgia piece but truthfully not one of the greatest movies ever made – Dance Craze was the last hurrah for 2tone and the second wave of ska, which had enjoyed a two year run in the charts and kept Britain’s youth skanking between 1979 and 1981.
In 2011, the paperback of my biography of Neville Staple was published by Aurum Press. I’d spent countless hours with Neville and also many of his close friends to write Original Rude Boy.
This had involved popping up to Coventry and sitting with Nev in his living room reliving the glory days of 2Tone but also discussing his youth and friendships. I found that Neville was very passionate about his family, especially those in Jamaica he had been forced to leave behind as a child – including his own mother.
I think it’s fair to say that Neville has a Jamaican soul. Though he’s also a Coventry lad and has led a life in music that has taken him all over the world. But he has never forgotten his roots and crucially those people who were always there in the good times and the bad. In that respect, one would have to single out Trevor and Rex, childhood buddies who went on to tour with The Specials – officially as roadies but a bit more than that.
Together with Neville, Trevor and Rex brought a black British street-wise sense to The Specials. This was something Bernie Rhodes understood was essential during his short time managing the band. This trio gave The Specials a flavour that set it apart from other 2Tone offerings.
Though of course, one cannot ignore the towering genius of Jerry Dammers. He had recognised in the old ska sound from Jamaica something that could speak to young people at the end of the 70s. They were tough times. Unemployment was high, poverty was increasing and hope was giving way to frustration and despair.
Jerry’s interpretation of ska with Neville’s ability to “toast” about the realities of everyday life in the decaying auto city that was Coventry was an incredible combination. Hope I helped to capture this in the book. Speaking to Huffington Post journalist Salvatore Bono, Neville said some kind words about yours truly.
He knows how to talk to people, knew how to talk to me. And I want to do a follow up about the touring with the Specials and stuff we left out before – and he’s the man because he knows what I’m like.
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