The Specials frontman Terry Hall has died aged 63 following a brief illness, the band has announced.
Writing on Twitter, the band said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing, following a brief illness, of Terry, our beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced.
“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.
“He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him and leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and profound humanity.
“Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words…’Love Love Love’.”
The statement also called on everyone to “respect the family’s privacy at this very sad time”.
Bandmate Neville Staple said he was “deeply saddened” to hear about the death of Hall – adding that they had only just confirmed some joint musical projects for 2023.
“In the music world, people have many ups and downs, but I will hang onto the great memories of Terry and I, making history fronting The Specials and Fun Boy Three together. Rest easy Terry Hall.”
Thousands of fans paid their respects online, with fellow singer and songwriter, Midge Ure, describing Hall’s death as “dreadful news”.
Singer/songwriter and Strictly Come Dancing star Matt Goss said he was “in shock” over Hall’s death.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation said Hall’s death was “truly sad news”, sharing a picture of him with the Back to Black singer.
Radio DJ Jo Whiley also paid her respects, tweeting how she has “always been a fan” of Hall.
The Specials were formed by Jerry Dammers, Lynval Golding and Horace Panter in Hall’s home city of Coventry in 1977.
Hall, together with Neville Staple, Roddy Byers and John Bradbury joined a year later.
The band were originally called the Automatics before eventually settling on The Specials in 1978.
They quickly achieved popularity with their ska and rocksteady style, credited for providing a musical backdrop to economic recession, urban decay and societal fractures in the early 1980s.
The band produced a string of iconic hit records, including Too Much Two Young and Ghost Town, which both hit number one in 1980 and 1981 respectively.
The Specials decided to go their separate ways in 1981, with Hall, Golding and Staple going on to form the band Fun Boy Three, which achieved four top 10 singles.
Two years later Hall departed to form The Colourfield before taking on a series of solo and collaborative projects, including working with singer Lily Allen.
But The Specials announced in 2008 they would reunite for a number of tour dates with the promise of new music to come.
In September that year, Hall and five other bandmates performed a surprise slot at Bestival music festival under the name Very “Special” Guests – to the delight of fans.
The group kicked off a tour to mark their 30th anniversary in 2009, later supporting The Rolling Stones during a concert at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena in 2018.
In 2019 The Specials released their first album of new material in 37 years, Encore, which went straight to number one in the official UK album chart.
The album featured the politically-themed lead single, Vote for Me, described by some fans as a follow-up to Ghost Town.
Hall told The Big Issue magazine in 2019: “I find myself in awe of the mess, nightly listening to politicians giving their opinion and thinking, ‘I don’t necessarily trust any of you, really’.
“It’s pretty sad. I grew up aligned to a party, the Labour Party, quite strongly. Until Tony Blair made Noel Gallagher prime minister, I knew exactly where I stood.”