Terry Hall | Singer with the Specials | Obituary

,

Obituary – Terry Hall – Singer with the Specials

Famously deadpan, dour and slightly menacing, Terry Hall, who has died aged 63 after a short illness, shot to fame at the end of the 1970s with Coventry’s groundbreaking multi-racial band the Specials. They emerged in the aftermath of punk, with a fizzing, politically charged mix of ska and new wave, and enjoyed instant success with their debut album, The Specials, which reached No 4 on the UK chart. For a time, the Specials’ 2 Tone Records operation became the UK’s most successful record label, with releases from Madness, the Beat and the Selecter alongside the Specials’ own.

  • Died: December 19th, 2022
  • Details of death: died after a short illness

Terence Edward Hall (19 March 1959 – 19 December 2022) was an English musician and the lead singer of the Specials, and formerly of Fun Boy Three, the Colourfield, Terry, Blair & Anouchka and Vegas. He released two solo studio albums and also collaborated with many artists including David Stewart, Bananarama, the Lightning Seeds, Sinéad O’Connor, Stephen Duffy, Dub Pistols, Gorillaz, Damon Albarn, D12, Tricky, Lily Allen and Shakespears Sister.

 

Early Life

Born and raised in Coventry, England, Hall was abducted by a paedophile ring on a trip to France at the age of 12. He left school before his 15th birthday, taking various short-term jobs – bricklayer, quantity surveyor, and apprentice hairdresser among them. He became an active member of the burgeoning Coventry music scene of the late 1970s, playing in a local punk band called Squad and being credited as a composer on their “Red Alert” single.

The Specials

Initially the frontman of ‘the Coventry Automatics’ in 1977–78, which became the Specials in early 1979, Hall first came to prominence in the UK in 1979 when BBC Radio 1 disc jockey (DJ) John Peel played their debut single “Gangsters” on his show. The band then went on to release their debut studio album, The Specials, which also contained the hits “A Message to You Rudy” and “Too Much Too Young”.

In October 1980, the Specials released their second studio album, More Specials, which boasted three more hit singles with “Do Nothing”, “Stereotype” and “Rat Race”.

The single “Ghost Town”, released in June 1981, spent three weeks at number one and ten weeks in the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. The double A-side song, “Friday Night Saturday Morning”, penned by Hall, described a night out at the Coventry Locarno.

Fun Boy Three

After the Specials’ single “Ghost Town” was released, Hall left the band to start a new group called Fun Boy Three with two of his Specials bandmates, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple. Fun Boy Three’s first hit single, “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum),” was released in 1981 and was followed-up in 1982 with “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It),” a duet with Bananarama. Fun Boy Three then provided guest vocals for Bananarama’s single, “Really Saying Something.” In the same year, Hall and his bandmates appeared in the music video for “Driving in My Car” by Madness and released their debut studio album, Fun Boy Three, which reached No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart. In February 1983, Fun Boy Three released their second studio album, Waiting, which contained two Top Ten hits: “The Tunnel of Love” and “Our Lips Are Sealed”. The latter was a song Hall had written with Jane Wiedlin, who had already had success in the United States with a version of the song by her group the Go-Go’s.
The Colourfield
In 1984, Hall formed the Colourfield, releasing the studio album Virgins and Philistines in 1985, which included the hit single “Thinking of You”. The album spent seven weeks in the UK chart, peaking at No. 12. This new musical direction would culminate in collaborations with Ian Broudie and Hall contributing a number of songs to Broudie’s albums as the Lightning Seeds. Hall also co-wrote the song “Smoke Ring” for Broudie’s debut solo studio album Tales Told, which was also released as the lead track on the Smoke Rings EP. A second Colourfield studio album, Deception, was released in 1987, reaching No. 95 in the UK Albums Chart.
Fun Boy Three
In 1989, Hall teamed up with American actress Blair Booth and jeweller Anouchka Grose and began recording under the moniker of Terry, Blair & Anouchka. After two singles which both scraped into the Top 80 of the UK Singles Chart, the trio released their debut studio album Ultra Modern Nursery Rhymes, which failed to chart.
Vegas
In 1992, Hall joined forces with Dave Stewart, most famous for his role as one half of Eurythmics. The duo took on the name Vegas and released Vegas, a slick electronic pop album that was heavily promoted by their label BMG. It failed to chart. Only one of the three singles lifted from the album, “Possessed”, managed to break the UK Top 40, reaching No. 32.
Solo

Hall began his formal solo career in 1994 with Home. The album was produced by his former collaborator Ian Broudie and it reached no. 95 in the UK Albums Chart. The album also features ex Echo & the Bunnymen bassist, Les Pattinson. The highlight of the album was the single “Sense”, which reached No. 54 on the UK Singles Chart. The following year, Hall released the Rainbows EP in collaboration with Damon Albarn of Blur and it climbed to no. 62 in the UK Singles Chart.

In 1997, Hall followed up his debut studio album with Laugh. It remains his most successful solo album, reaching No. 50 in the UK Albums Chart. It also contains the Top 50 UK single, “Ballad of a Landlord”. Both albums featured longtime collaborator Craig Gannon.

Terry Hall and Mushtaq

In 2003, Hall collaborated with Mushtaq of Fun-Da-Mental on the studio album The Hour of Two Lights which contains contributions from Blur’s Damon Albarn, a twelve-year-old Lebanese girl singer, a blind Algerian rapper, a Syrian flautist, Hebrew vocalists, and a group of Polish gypsies.

Later years

In 2001, Hall appeared as a guest on the Gorillaz and D12 collaboration single “911”, which was a song about terrorist attacks in the US. Hall sings the chorus along with Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, while D12 rap their verses. In 2003, Hall guested on the song “Never Alone,” which appeared on the Junkie XL studio album Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin.

Hall was featured on the studio album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians.

In 2007, Hall provided vocals for many tracks on the Dub Pistols’ studio album Speakers and Tweeters, having previously appeared on the band’s song “Problem Is” from the studio album Six Million Ways to Live and also appeared live at the Glastonbury Festival on the Pyramid Stage with Lily Allen and former Specials bandmate Lynval Golding. He also played on the Park Stage, once again with Golding and also Damon Albarn and beatboxer Shlomo, playing a version of the Specials’ “A Message to You Rudy”. Later that year, he appeared at GuilFest on the BBC Radio 2 Stage, once again with the Dub Pistols and Golding.

The Specials reformation

Hall contacted his former Specials bandmates with the prospect of a reunion. On 30 March 2008, Hall stated that the Specials would be reforming for tour dates and possibly some recording.

On 6 September 2008, six members of the band performed on the Main Stage at Bestival as the surprise act. The Specials’ original keyboardist and primary composer Jerry Dammers did not play at the festival and owns the trademark rights to the name “the Specials,” so the group was billed as “Very ‘Special’ Guests”. On 2 December 2008, the Specials announced 2009 tour dates to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Jerry Dammers did not join the band on the tour, although relations between the two parties were reportedly strong. Hall was quoted as saying “the door remains open to him”. As of 2018, Hall still performed with the Specials, including a concert with the Rolling Stones, along with his original band members Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter, and often DJed in various UK venues.

On 1 February 2019, the Specials released a new studio album entitled Encore. Upon release it went straight to the number one spot on the UK Albums Chart, being the highest-charting album ever released by the Specials.

Personal Life and death

In 1980, he had a brief romantic relationship with Jane Wiedlin of the band the Go-Gos. Together, they wrote the song “Our Lips Are Sealed”. Hall had two sons, Theo and Felix, with Jeanette Hall. Hall was a Manchester United supporter. He was diagnosed as manic depressive following a suicide attempt in 2004.

Hall died on 19 December 2022 following a brief illness, at the age of 63.

 

 

Date of birth: 19th March 1959

Date of Death: 19th December 2022 (aged 63)

 

Sources:

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Hall_(singer)

The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/dec/20/terry-hall-obituary