The Specials Singer Passes Away, Aged 63

20 December 2022 | 11:40 am | Mary Varvaris

"His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life."

(Source: Supplied)

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Terry Hall, singer of UK pop and ska band The Specials, has died aged 63 following a "brief illness".

"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," the band announced on social media. 

They added, "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 band then asked for fans to respect the Hall family's privacy.

Ghost Town, the recession-themed single released in 1981, hit #1 in the UK. As well as performing with The Specials, Hall collaborated with numerous artists, such as Sinéad O'Connor, Gorillaz, Tricky, Bananarama, Lily Allen, and many more acts.

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At 12 years old, Hall was abducted by a paedophile ring in France; the singer told Richard Herring on his podcast. "I was sort of drugged up then on Valium for about a year, and I didn't go to school," Hall added, noting that he dropped out of school at 14 due to his trauma.

He sang the words, "You took me to France on the promise of teaching me French," on the 1983 Fun Boy Three song, Well Fancy That, alluding to what happened to him. "I can laugh about it now, but it sort of switched something in my head, and it's like I don't have to do that, and that's when I started not listening to anyone," Hall told Herring. The singer also discussed trauma with The Big Issue.

"The Specials were a celebration of how British culture was envigorated by Caribbean immigration but the onstage demenour of their lead singer was a reminder that they were in the serious business of challenging our perception of who we were in the late 1970s. RIP Terry Hall," Billy Bragg wrote on Twitter. 

Singer Belinda Carlisle also paid tribute to Hall, noting, "Forever bound in music history with #terryhall. He co-wrote the @officialgogos breakout hit, "Our Lips Are Sealed" with @janewiedlin. RIP Mr. Hall."

Folk punk singer Frank Turner also chimed in and tweeted: "God damnit. Just heard the news about Terry Hall. What an absolute sadness. The Specials were one of the most important bands for me as a kid. Taught me many things I needed to know. Gutted. RIP."

Portishead and Beak multi-instrumentalist Geoff Barrow shared his tribute, too: "This is very very sad news. Only if we had the conscious humour & intelligence in popular music today that #terryhall brought in his lyrics to us all back then. It’s time to put the specials where they belong as one of the greatest British bands ever. #ripterryhall".