The Specials

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This article is about the British ska band. The Specials_sentence_0

For other uses, see Specials (disambiguation). The Specials_sentence_1

"The Special A.K.A." redirects here. The Specials_sentence_2

For the jazz-style ensemble, see The Spatial AKA Orchestra. The Specials_sentence_3

The Specials_table_infobox_0

The SpecialsThe Specials_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationThe Specials_header_cell_0_1_0
Also known asThe Specials_header_cell_0_2_0 The Special A.K.A.The Specials_cell_0_2_1
OriginThe Specials_header_cell_0_3_0 Coventry, EnglandThe Specials_cell_0_3_1
GenresThe Specials_header_cell_0_4_0 The Specials_cell_0_4_1
Years activeThe Specials_header_cell_0_5_0 1977–1984, 1993, 1996–2001, 2008–presentThe Specials_cell_0_5_1
LabelsThe Specials_header_cell_0_6_0 The Specials_cell_0_6_1
Associated actsThe Specials_header_cell_0_7_0 Saffiyah KhanThe Specials_cell_0_7_1
WebsiteThe Specials_header_cell_0_8_0 The Specials_cell_0_8_1
MembersThe Specials_header_cell_0_10_0 The Specials_cell_0_10_1
Past membersThe Specials_header_cell_0_12_0 See Members sectionThe Specials_cell_0_12_1

The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2 Tone and ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry. The Specials_sentence_4

After some early changes, the first stable lineup of the group consisted of Terry Hall and Neville Staple on vocals, Lynval Golding and Roddy Radiation on guitars, Horace Panter on bass, Jerry Dammers on keyboards, John Bradbury on drums, and Dick Cuthell and Rico Rodriguez on horns. The Specials_sentence_5

Their music combines a "danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude". The Specials_sentence_6

Lyrically, they present a "more focused and informed political and social stance". The Specials_sentence_7

The band wore mod-style "1960s period rude boy outfits (pork pie hats, tonic and mohair suits and loafers)". The Specials_sentence_8

In 1980, the song "Too Much Too Young", the lead track on their The Special AKA Live! The Specials_sentence_9

EP, reached No. The Specials_sentence_10

1 in the UK Singles Chart. The Specials_sentence_11

In 1981, the recession-themed single "Ghost Town" also hit No. The Specials_sentence_12

1 in the UK. The Specials_sentence_13

After seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles between 1979 and 1981, main lead vocalists Hall and Staple, along with guitarist Golding, left to form Fun Boy Three. The Specials_sentence_14

Continuing as "The Special AKA" (a name they used frequently on earlier Specials releases), a substantially revised Specials line-up issued new material through 1984, including the top 10 UK hit single "Free Nelson Mandela". The Specials_sentence_15

After this, founder and songwriter Jerry Dammers dissolved the band and pursued political activism. The Specials_sentence_16

The group reformed in 1993, and have continued to perform and record with varying line-ups, none of them involving Dammers. The Specials_sentence_17

Career The Specials_section_0

Founding and early years (1977–78) The Specials_section_1

The group was formed in 1977 by songwriter/keyboardist Dammers, vocalist Tim Strickland, guitarist/vocalist Lynval Golding, drummer Silverton Hutchinson and bassist Horace Panter (a.k.a. Sir Horace Gentleman). The Specials_sentence_18

Strickland was replaced by Terry Hall shortly after the band's formation. The Specials_sentence_19

The band was first called the Automatics, then the Coventry Automatics. The Specials_sentence_20

Vocalist Neville Staple and guitarist Roddy Byers (usually known as Roddy Radiation) joined the band the following year; the new line-up changed their name to the Special AKA. The Specials_sentence_21

Joe Strummer of the Clash had attended one of their concerts, and invited the Special AKA to open for his band in their "On Parole" UK tour. The Specials_sentence_22

This performance gave the Special AKA a new level of national exposure, and they briefly shared the Clash's management. The Specials_sentence_23

The Specials began at the same time as Rock Against Racism, which was first organised in 1978. The Specials_sentence_24

According to Dammers, anti-racism was intrinsic to the formation of the Specials, in that the band was formed with the goal of integrating black and white people. The Specials_sentence_25

Many years later Dammers stated that "Music gets political when there are new ideas in music, ...punk was innovative, so was ska, and that was why bands such as the Specials and the Clash could be political". The Specials_sentence_26

Ascendancy of the Specials (1979–81) The Specials_section_2

In 1979, shortly after drummer Hutchinson left the band to be replaced by John Bradbury, Dammers formed the 2 Tone Records label and released the band's debut single "Gangsters", a reworking of Prince Buster's "Al Capone". The Specials_sentence_27

The record became a Top 10 hit that summer. The Specials_sentence_28

The band had begun wearing mod/rude boy/skinhead-style two-tone tonic suits, along with other elements of late 1960s teen fashions. The Specials_sentence_29

Changing their name to the Specials, they recorded their eponymous debut album in 1979, produced by Elvis Costello. The Specials_sentence_30

Horn players Dick Cuthell and Rico Rodriguez were featured on the album, but would not be official members of the Specials until their second album. The Specials_sentence_31

The Specials led off with Dandy Livingstone's "Rudy, A Message to You" (slightly altering the title to "A Message to You, Rudy") and also had covers of Prince Buster and Toots & the Maytals songs from the late 1960s. The Specials_sentence_32

In 1980, the EP Too Much Too Young (predominantly credited to the Special A.K.A.) was a No. The Specials_sentence_33 1 hit in the UK Singles Chart, despite controversy over the song's lyrics, which reference teen pregnancy and promote contraception. The Specials_sentence_34

Reverting once again to the name of the Specials, the band's second album, More Specials, was not as commercially successful and was recorded at a time when, according to Hall, conflicts had developed in the band. The Specials_sentence_35

Female backing vocalists on the Specials' first two studio albums included: Chrissie Hynde; Rhoda Dakar (then of the Bodysnatchers and later of the Special AKA); and Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go's. The Specials_sentence_36

In the first few months of 1981, the band took a break from recording and touring, and then released "Ghost Town", a non-album single, which hit No. The Specials_sentence_37

1 in 1981. The Specials_sentence_38

At their Top of the Pops recording of the song, however, Staple, Hall and Golding announced they were leaving the band. The Specials_sentence_39

Golding later said: "We didn't talk to the rest of the guys. The Specials_sentence_40

We couldn't even stay in the same dressing room. The Specials_sentence_41

We couldn't even look at each other. The Specials_sentence_42

We stopped communicating. The Specials_sentence_43

You only realise what a genius Jerry was years later. The Specials_sentence_44

At the time, we were on a different planet." The Specials_sentence_45

Shortly afterwards, the three left the band to form Fun Boy Three. The Specials_sentence_46

Band split, rebirth as the Special AKA (1982–84) The Specials_section_3

For the next few years, the group was in a seemingly constant state of flux. The Specials_sentence_47

Adding Dakar to the permanent line-up, the group recorded "The Boiler" with Dakar on vocals, Dammers on keyboards, Bradbury on drums, John Shipley (from the Swinging Cats) on guitar, Cuthell on brass and Nicky Summers on bass. The Specials_sentence_48

The single was credited to "Rhoda with the Special AKA". The Specials_sentence_49

The track describes an incident of date rape, and its frank and harrowing depiction of the matter meant that airplay was severely limited. The Specials_sentence_50

Nevertheless, it managed to reach No. The Specials_sentence_51

35 on the UK charts, and American writer Dave Marsh later identified "The Boiler" as one of the 1,001 best "rock and soul" singles of all time in his book The Heart of Rock & Soul. The Specials_sentence_52

After going on tour with Rodriguez, the band (without Dakar, and as "Rico and the Special AKA") also recorded the non-charting (and non-album) single "Jungle Music". The Specials_sentence_53

The line-up for the single was Rodriguez (vocal, trombone), Cuthell (cornets), Dammers (keyboards), Bradbury (drums), Shipley (guitar), returning bassist Panter, and new additions Satch Dickson and Groco (percussion) and Anthony Wymshurst (guitar). The Specials_sentence_54

Rodriguez and the three newcomers were all dropped for the next single, "War Crimes", which brought back Dakar and added new co-vocalists Egidio Newton and Stan Campbell, as well as violinist Nick Parker. The Specials_sentence_55

Follow-up single "Racist Friend" was a minor hit (UK No. The Specials_sentence_56

60), with the band establishing themselves as a septet: Dakar, Newton, Campbell, Bradbury, Cuthell, Dammers and Shipley. The Specials_sentence_57

The new line-up (still known as the Special AKA) finally issued a new full-length album In the Studio in 1984. The Specials_sentence_58

Officially, the band was now a sextet: Dakar, Campbell, Bradbury, Dammers, Shipley and new bassist Gary McManus. The Specials_sentence_59

Cuthell, Newton, Panter and Radiation all appeared on the album as guests; as did saxophonist Nigel Reeve, and Claudia Fontaine and Caron Wheeler of the vocal trio Afrodiziak. The Specials_sentence_60

Both critically and commercially, In The Studio was less successful than previous efforts, although the 1984 single "Free Nelson Mandela" was a No. The Specials_sentence_61

9 UK hit. The Specials_sentence_62

The latter contributed to making Mandela's imprisonment a in the UK, and became popular with anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. The Specials_sentence_63

Dammers then dissolved the band and pursued political activism. The Specials_sentence_64

Later developments The Specials_section_4

Since the break-up of the original line-up, various members of the band performed in other bands and have reformed several times to tour and record in Specials-related projects. The Specials_sentence_65

However, there has never been a complete reunion of the original line-up. The Specials_sentence_66

After their departure from the Specials, Golding, Hall and Staple founded the pop band Fun Boy Three and enjoyed commercial success from 1981 to 1983 with hits such as "Tunnel of Love", "It Ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)", "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)". The Specials_sentence_67

The group ended with Hall's sudden departure, leading to a 15-year rift with Staple. The Specials_sentence_68

After Fun Boy Three, Staple and Golding joined Pauline Black of the Selecter in the short-lived band Sunday Best, releasing the single "Pirates on the Airwaves". The Specials_sentence_69

In 1990, Bradbury, Golding, Panter and Staple teamed up with members of the Beat to form Special Beat, performing the music of the two bands and other ska and Two Tone classics. The Specials_sentence_70

The group, undergoing many line-up changes, toured and released several live recordings through the 1990s. The Specials_sentence_71

A 1994 single credited to "X Specials" featured Neville, Lynval, Roddy, and Horace. The Specials_sentence_72

A cover of the Slade song "Coz I Love You", the project was produced by Slade's Jim Lea. The Specials_sentence_73

Moving into production and management, Staple "discovered" and produced bhangra pop fusion artist Johnny Zee. The Specials_sentence_74

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Staple would stay active producing and guesting with a variety of artists, including International Beat, Special Beat, Unwritten Law, Desorden Publico, the Planet Smashers and others, as well as leading his own bands and starting the Rude Wear clothing line. The Specials_sentence_75

He sang with the 1990s Specials line-up, and again from 2009 to 2012. The Specials_sentence_76

Panter went on to join with members of the Beat and Dexys Midnight Runners to form General Public, and then Special Beat. The Specials_sentence_77

He joined the 1990s Specials before training as a primary school teacher at the University of Central England in Birmingham. The Specials_sentence_78

He continued to play with latter-day Special Neol Davies in the blues outfit Box of Blues. The Specials_sentence_79

However, he rejoined the band for their 2009 reunion and continues as a member. The Specials_sentence_80

Golding teamed up with Dammers for a brief spell of club DJing, and then worked with Coventry band After Tonight. The Specials_sentence_81

After Special Beat, he went on to lead the Seattle-based ska groups Stiff Upper Lip, and more recently, Pama International, as well as many collaborations with other ska bands. The Specials_sentence_82

He has also toured with the Beat. The Specials_sentence_83

He joined the 1990s Specials line-up, but left in 2000. The Specials_sentence_84

He rejoined in 2009, and continues with the group. The Specials_sentence_85

Radiation fronted and worked with numerous artists including the Tearjerkers (a band that he had begun in the last months of the Specials), the Bonediggers, the Raiders and Three Men & Black (including Jean-Jacques Burnel of the Stranglers), Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers), Pauline Black, Bruce Foxton (the Jam), Dave Wakeling (the Beat, General Public) and Nick Welsh (Skaville UK). The Specials_sentence_86

He also fronts the Skabilly Rebels, a band that mixes rockabilly with ska. The Specials_sentence_87

He joined the 1990s Specials line-up and again in 2009, continuing to 2014. The Specials_sentence_88

Bradbury continued through the Special AKA era, then formed the band JB's Allstars, before moving into production. The Specials_sentence_89

He joined Special Beat for several years, then a reformed Selecter, before retiring from music to work as an IT specialist. The Specials_sentence_90

He rejoined the band for their 2009 reunion, and continued to perform with them until his death in 2015. The Specials_sentence_91

From 1984 until 1987, Hall fronted the Colourfield, with some commercial success. The Specials_sentence_92

After they disbanded, Hall pursued a solo career, working mostly in the new wave genre. The Specials_sentence_93

He co-wrote a number of early Lightning Seeds releases. The Specials_sentence_94

He also performed some vocals for a Dub Pistols album. The Specials_sentence_95

He and Eurythmics member David A. Stewart formed the duo Vegas in the early 1990s, releasing an eponymous album in 1992. The Specials_sentence_96

Hall joined the Specials for their 2009 reunion, and continues to perform with them. The Specials_sentence_97

In 2006, Dammers formed large, jazz-style ensemble the Spatial AKA Orchestra. The Specials_sentence_98

Reunions and current events The Specials_section_5

The first reunion under the Specials name occurred in 1993, when producer Roger Lomas decided to use the Specials as backing band for a new album by ska legend Desmond Dekker. The Specials_sentence_99

Only Golding, Panter, Radiation and Staple were willing to participate. The Specials_sentence_100

They were joined in the studio by former Selecter drummer Charley Harrington "Aitch" Bembridge, who had also played with soul singer Ray King in the 1970s, who mentored and worked with Dammers, Staple, Golding and Hutchinson in their days before the Specials. The Specials_sentence_101

A group of studio musicians filled out the band, including keyboardist Mark Adams. The Specials_sentence_102

The album, released by Trojan Records as King of Kings, was credited to Desmond Dekker and the Specials. The Specials_sentence_103

After the Dekker recording was finished, Lomas brought the group back into the studio to record a number of classic songs from the Trojan Records back catalogue. The Specials_sentence_104

Two weeks before this project, Golding left the group to concentrate on domestic life in Seattle. The Specials_sentence_105

Turning to another Selecter veteran for help, the band replaced him on guitar with Neol Davies. The Specials_sentence_106

Davies, Staple, Radiation and Panter, joined by a group of session musicians, recorded a wealth of tracks that eventually saw release by Trojan sub-label Receiver Records as Skinhead Girl in 2000 and Conquering Ruler in 2001. The Specials_sentence_107

The release of the album with Desmond Dekker created some buzz for the band, and led to an offer from a Japanese promoter to book a tour. The Specials_sentence_108

Rejoined by Golding, along with Bembridge & Adams from the "King of Kings" sessions, the band added horn players Adam Birch and Jonathan Read and began rehearsing and playing live. The Specials_sentence_109

Initially using the names the Coventry Specials, The X Specials, and Specials2, they shortly reverted to The Specials after accepting that it was the name promoters were using anyway, although the line-up was referred to as Specials MkII by those involved. The Specials_sentence_110

This line-up went on to tour internationally and released two studio albums: Today's Specials, a collection of mostly reggae and ska covers in 1996,, and Guilty 'til Proved Innocent! The Specials_sentence_111

in 1998, a collection of original compositions. The Specials_sentence_112

The band toured heavily in support of both releases - including headlining the Vans Warped Tour - and received positive reviews of their live shows. The Specials_sentence_113

Despite the live success, the band fizzled out after a 1998 Japan tour (which Panter missed due to illness), although limited touring with a different line-up continued into 2000. The Specials_sentence_114

The release of the earlier Trojan sessions, Skinhead Girl in 2000 and Conquering Ruler in 2001, would be the last heard from the band for some time. The Specials_sentence_115

In 2007, Hall teamed up with Golding for the first time in 24 years, to play Specials songs at two music festivals. The Specials_sentence_116

At Glastonbury Festival, they appeared on the Pyramid Stage with Lily Allen to perform "Gangsters". The Specials_sentence_117

In May 2009, Golding claimed that Allen's reuniting him with Hall played a "massive part" in the group's later reformation. The Specials_sentence_118

Later the same day, they played on the Park Stage, with Damon Albarn of Blur on piano and beatboxer Shlomo providing rhythm, to perform "A Message to You, Rudy". The Specials_sentence_119

At GuilFest, Golding joined the Dub Pistols to again perform "Gangsters". The Specials_sentence_120

In 2007, Golding regularly performed concerts and recorded with Pama International, a collective of musicians who were members of Special Beat. The Specials_sentence_121

On 30 March 2008, Hall stated that the Specials would be reforming for tour dates in autumn 2008, and possibly for some recording. The Specials_sentence_122

This was officially confirmed on 7 April 2008. The Specials_sentence_123

On 6 September 2008, six members of the band performed on the main stage at the Bestival, billed as the "Surprise Act". The Specials_sentence_124

By December 2008, the band had announced 2009 tour dates to celebrate their 30th anniversary, although founder member Dammers was not joining the band on the tour. The Specials_sentence_125

Hall was quoted as saying, "The door remains open to him". The Specials_sentence_126

However, Dammers described the new reunion as a "takeover" and claimed he had been forced out of the band. The Specials_sentence_127

Around that same time, longtime Specials fan Amy Winehouse joined Dammers onstage at Hyde Park, singing the song he wrote for the Specials, "Free Nelson Mandela", for Mandela's 90th birthday concert, dubbed 46664 after Mandela's prison number, and also the name of his AIDS charity, which received money raised by the birthday bash. The Specials_sentence_128

On 10 April 2009, the Specials guested on BBC Two's Later... with Jools Holland. The Specials_sentence_129

The following month, Bradbury and Golding expressed their intentions to release further original Specials material at a later date. The Specials_sentence_130

On 8 June 2009, it was announced that the Specials would embark on a second leg of their 30th anniversary tour, taking in the locations and venues that they missed earlier in the year. The Specials_sentence_131

In July and August 2009, the Specials toured Australia and Japan. The Specials_sentence_132

In October, the band picked up the Inspiration Award at the Q Awards. The Specials_sentence_133

In 2010, they performed at the Dutch festival Lowlands. The Specials_sentence_134

In an interview at the Green Room in Manchester in November 2010, Hall confirmed that there would be further Specials dates in the autumn of 2011, and confessed to having enjoyed playing live again: "It's a celebration of something that happened in your life that was important, and we're going to do that again next year, but then maybe that'll be it". The Specials_sentence_135

In late 2010, the band re-released "A Message to You, Rudy" as a Haiti Special Fund available to download from iTunes in both the UK and the US, with proceeds going to aid the UNICEF effort to help children in earthquake-stricken Haiti. The Specials_sentence_136

In February 2012, it was announced that the Specials would perform at Hyde Park with Blur and New Order to celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony. The Specials_sentence_137

Panter said that the band were excited to be involved in such a momentous event: "We have been keeping it under our pork pie hats for a month or so now. The Specials_sentence_138

I think it is going to be the only chance people get to see the Specials performing in the UK this year." The Specials_sentence_139

The Specials' performance was said to have remained synonymous with Britain's political and social upheaval of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Specials_sentence_140

In August 2012, the Specials released a new live album, More... Or Less. The Specials_sentence_141

– The Specials Live, featuring "the best of the best" performances from their 2011 European tour, selected by the band themselves on a double-disc CD and double-vinyl LP. The Specials_sentence_142

In January 2013, the Specials announced the departure of Staple with the following message on their website: "We are very sad Neville cannot join us on the Specials' UK tour in May 2013 or indeed on the future projects we have planned. The Specials_sentence_143

He has made a huge contribution to the fantastic time and reception we have received since we started and reformed in 2009. The Specials_sentence_144

However, he missed a number of key shows last year due to ill health, and his health is obviously much more important. The Specials_sentence_145

We wish him the very best for the future". The Specials_sentence_146

The Specials completed a North American tour in 2013, performing to sold-out crowds in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. The Specials_sentence_147

In February 2014, it was revealed that Roddy Radiation had left the reformed group. The Specials_sentence_148

In spite of his departure, the Specials played an extensive tour in the autumn of 2014 with Steve Cradock (Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller) as lead guitarist. The Specials_sentence_149

Drummer John Bradbury died on 28 December 2015 at the age of 62. The Specials_sentence_150

On 22 March 2016, the Specials announced that The Libertines drummer Gary Powell would be performing on their upcoming tours. The Specials_sentence_151

Powell was replaced by PJ Harvey/Jazz Jamaica drummer Kenrick Rowe on the Encore album and subsequent tour. The Specials_sentence_152

On 29 October 2018, the Specials announced a forthcoming UK tour in 2019 to coincide with the release of a new album, Encore. The Specials_sentence_153

On 1 February 2019, the band announced a Spring North American tour to promote the 1 February 2019 release of Encore (out via Island Records). The Specials_sentence_154

The following week, Encore debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, giving the band their first chart-topping album since 1980. The Specials_sentence_155

Members The Specials_section_6

Timeline The Specials_section_7

Discography The Specials_section_8

Main article: The Specials discography The Specials_sentence_156

The Specials_unordered_list_0

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Specials.