Sometimes in journalism we get to cover bands that were our idols when we were teens. For me, writing about today’s news of Terry Hall’s passing comes with profound sadness. So many loved the music that we grew up with inn the ‘80s, and for many of us, there was no bigger band than The Specials. Their charismatic lead singer Terry Hall was a giant.
Earlier today The Specials posted on their social media: “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.”
Hall joined The Specials in 1977 and the band pioneered the genre and gained major success with their 1981 number one single, “Ghost Town.” After The Specials split in 1981,
Hall formed Fun Boy Three with Specials bandmates Neville Staple and Lynval Golding. They blew up with their smash hit “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum).”
He also co-wrote “Our Lips Are Sealed” with his then girlfriend, The Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin.
Notably, The Specials are one of the quintessential bands of the Two-Tone Mod Ska movement, and they are one of the featured acts in “Dance Craze,” the 1981 documentary on the British Ska music genre.
Hall would form another band, the Colourfield, as well as release solo material before The Specials reunited in 2008. Their 2019 album went to number one on the UK album charts and Hall was quoted as saying, “Achieving a first number one album in our 60s restored our faith in humanity.”
THE SPECIALS LIVE | PHOTO by John Gilhooley Photography
It is the Specials catalog that kept his fans skankin’ at every show. Songs like “Gangsters,” “Too Much Too Young,” “Nelson Mandela,” “Monkey Man,” “Little Bitch,” “Nite Klub,” “Concrete Jungle,” and “A Message To You, Rudy.”
THE SPECIALS LIVE | PHOTO by Green-Eyed Blonde Photography
I have covered The Specials many, many times over my life. The memory I have of Hall is one that is dear to me. I was at a show, and he was getting ready to go onstage, but was prepping in the corner by himself. The band was on the side stage just below the walkway. I noticed there was a child in a wheelchair and the guys were taking photos and signing an album for him. Then I looked over and there was Terry Hall. He asked everyone to take no photos, he wanted just one. He bent down on a knee and took a photo with the young man. Only the one guy was allowed to take a photo, and that was the gentleman who was with the young man. Hall then got up and signed the boy’s album and said “Thank you so much for coming out.” That is the Terry Hall I will always remember.
No matter what, it will be the hits with The Specials that will forever endear him to the hearts of his fans.
Hall was 63 years old. RIP Terry, Godspeed on your next journey.