Terry Hall, the lead singer of English ska band the Specials, has died at the age of 63, the band announced on social media. In the band’s statement, they indicated that Hall died following an unspecified brief illness.
“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,” the band’s statement reads.
The Specials was formed in 1977 as the Automatics, and Hall joined in 1979, replacing former vocalist Tim Strickland. The 2 tone band rose to prominence after they supported the Clash live on tour, and singles such as “Gangsters” and “Ghost Town” pushed the band toward a peak in popularity during the early 1980s. “Ghost Town” specifically saw commercial success during the summer of 1981, when the pop song became the backdrop to civil unrest riots between young Black individuals and the police across the United Kingdom in response to racial discrimination and criticism over stop-and-search tactics. The band was active in the Rock Against Racism movement, playing benefit concerts for anti-racist organizations. Their other notable songs included the cover “A Message to You, Rudy” and “Doesn’t Make it Alright.”
The band split up after the success of “Ghost Town” in 1981, with Hall previously being quoted as feeling uncomfortable with the band’s rise in commercial success. In 1983, Hall formed Fun Boy Three with Specials bandmates Lynval Golding and Neville Staple and after that, the Colourfield. Although Hall didn’t partake in the Specials reunion that took place from 1993 to 1998, he later joined up with the band for a 30th anniversary tour in 2009. In the following years, the band faced a period of instability following the death of drummer John Bradbury and the departures of Staple and guitarist Roddy Radiation. The band’s final record with Hall, “Protest Songs 1924-2012,” was released in 2021.
Hall was born in Coventry, England, on March 19, 1959 and was considered an academically-gifted child along with being a notable football player. Hall was treated for manic depression, and began his foray into music with a punk band called Squad, which was heavily inspired by the Clash and the Sex Pistols. David Bowie’s 1975 record “Young Americans” was a crucial influence that pushed Hall toward becoming a singer.
“Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words… “’Love Love Love’,” the band’s statement concluded.
Hall is survived by his wife, Lindy Heymann, his son with Heymann, and two older sons with ex-wife Jeanette Hall.