The Specials’ Singer Terry Hall Dies at 63

Terry Hall, singer and songwriter of the British ska and 2 tone band, The Specials, died on Dec. 18. He was 63. The singer died after a brief illness, according to the band.

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“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,” said The Specials in a statement on the band’s social media pages. “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 humor, the fight for justice, but mostly the love.”

The statement continued, “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.’”

Born in Coventry, England on March 19, 1959, Hall jumped into the early music scene joining the band Squad in the early 1970s before linking up with The Specials later in the decade. Pioneering the 2 tone sound of reggae and ska in the spirit of punk, The Specials released their first single “Gangsters” in 1979 and continued hitting the top 10 charts with a series of singles into the 1980s, including their cover of Dandy Livingstone’s 1967 rocksteady song “A Message to You, Rudy,” “Rat Race,” and their two No. 1 hits “Ghost Town” and “Too Much Too Young.”

On the band’s second album, More Specials, Hall shreds his first composition for the band “Man at C&A,” a protest song addressing a world war three and the impact of nuclear war.

Throughout the 1980s, Hall briefly fronted the new wave band Fun Boy Three with The Specials bandmates Lynval Golding and Neville Staple from 1981 through 1983 and later formed the short-lived The Colourfield in 1984, then Vegas in 1992, both with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart.

Over the years, Hall collaborated with dozens of artists, including Sinéad O’Connor, Shakespears Sister, Gorillaz, Lily Allen, Toots and the Maytals, and even co-wrote the Go-Gos‘ 1981 hit “Our Lips Are Sealed” with guitarist Jane Wiedlin.

“Gutted to hear of the passing of Terry Hall,” shared Wiedlin on Instagram. “He was a lovely, sensitive, talented, and unique person. Our extremely brief romance resulted in the song ‘Our Lips Are Sealed,’ which will forever tie us together in music history.”

Hall released two solo albums, Home, and Laugh in 1994 and 1997, respectively, and reunited with The Specials in 2008. The band released their eighth album, Encore, in 2019, followed by their final album with Hall, Protest Songs 1924-2012, in 2021.

The Specials continued touring with Hall throughout the past 15 years and the band last performed together on Aug. 20, 2022, at the Beautiful Days Festival in Devon, England.

Hall is survived by his wife Lindy Heymann and their son, Orson, and by two sons, Leo and Felix, from his previous marriage to Jeannette Hall.

Photo by Dimitri Hakke/Getty Images

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