Terry Hall, Singer of British Bands The Specials and Fun Boy Three, Dies at 63

Share This:

The Specials in an early publicity photo. Hall is in center, front row, in vertically striped shirt.

Terry Hall, the lead vocalist for the British ska revival band The Specials, and later a member of Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield, died Dec. 18, 2022. The news was shared by The Specials the next day on their social media platforms. Hall was 63. Though no cause of death was given in the band’s announcement, one day later, group member Horace Panter revealed that it was an extremely fast moving form of cancer.

The Specials‘ statement reads as follows:

“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’.”

In his Dec. 20 post on his Facebook page, Panter wrote that in September the band had planned to make a reggae album. “Studio booked, flights paid for, accommodation sorted,” he wrote. “Terry e-mails everyone and says he’s in bed with a stomach bug and can’t do the first week of pre-production sessions. The next week, Terry is no better and is in hospital.”

On Oct. 2, Panter received a call from their manager. “Terry’s illness is a lot worse than we thought,” wrote Panter in his post. Hall had been diagnosed with cancer and had also developed diabetes, which had to be treated before chemotherapy. Though the chemo started favorably, Hall was in and out of the hospital. “It then goes quiet. Beginning of December and reports are not good. Terry has lost a lot of weight and is very frail.” Hall was gone two weeks later.

“The world has lost a unique voice and I have lost a good friend,” wrote Panter.

Terence Edward Hall was born March 19, 1959, in Coventry, England. At age 12 he was kidnapped by a teacher and sexually abused, an incident that he later revealed caused him lifelong depression. In his late teens he joined a punk band called Squad. The multi-racial, socially conscious Specials began as a group called Coventry Automatic in 1977, with a different singer, who was replaced by Hall. Taking on their new guise as Special A.K.A., a ska revival band, two years later, the band’s debut single, “Gangsters,” was released on the new 2 Tone label in 1979, garnering airplay in England on John Peel’s radio program.

Fun Boy Three

As The Specials, they released their self-titled debut album on 2 Tone that same year. Its success was such that 2 Tone signed other British bands combining the uptempo reggae predecessor called ska with punk rock attitude. The label’s trademark black-and-white checkered patterns used in its artwork even spawned a fashion trend in the U.K., which also became somewhat popular in the U.S.

Although the ska revival band never enjoyed a U.S. chart hit, they began their U.K. career with seven straight Top 10 singles including “A Message to You, Rudy” and two #1s: “Too Much Too Young” and “Ghost Town.”

Related: 1979 in 50 albums

The group’s second album, More Specials, was also popular, as was the single “Ghost Town,” but Hall then left the band and, with his Specials bandmates Lynval Golding and Neville Staple, started a new group, Fun Boy Three. Their debut single, “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum),” was released in 1981. Fun Boy Three duetted with Bananarama on “Really Saying Something” and a cover of the jazz standard “It Ain’t What You Do.”

In 1983, Fun Boy Three released “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which had already been a hit as the debut single for the Go-Go’s in 1981. Hall wrote the song with the all-girls band’s Jane Wiedlin. The Fun Boy Three version reached #7 in the U.K.

Hall’s next group, the Colourfield, was formed in 1984. He then worked with other groups, before embarking on a solo career, releasing the album Home in 1994.

A Specials reunion took place in 2008, and then in 2019, another reunited version of the Specials issued Encore, their first new album in 37 years.

Related: Musicians we lost in 2022

Best Classic Bands Staff

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.