Terry Hall, frontman of The Specials, has died at the age of 63. The band broke the news on social media that Hall had passed away following a “brief illness” and praised him for being “one of the kindest, funniest and most genuine souls.”
The pioneering musician kickstarted the British ska movement in the late 1970s with hits including ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘Too Much Too Young’. On Twitter, bandmate Neville Staple shared that the news had “hit me hard” adding: “We knew Terry had been unwell but didn’t realise how serious until recently.” Staple also confirmed that the pair had “only just confirmed some 2023 joint music agreements together”.
Hall had previously spoken about his childhood, including being kidnapped in France, touching upon the experience in the 1983 Fun Boy Three single “Well Fancy That!”
Who was Terry Hall?
Hall was the frontman of The Specials and is credited with helping to kickstart the British ska era. The 63-year-old was born in Coventry in 1959 and left school at the age of 15. He worked odd jobs before finding inspiration in the punk scene, with the musician initially becoming the front man of the Coventry Automatics’ between 1977–1978, before joining The Specials.
Their first number one single ‘Ghost Town’ which was released in June 1981 spent three weeks at the top of the charts. After it was released, Hall left the band to form Fun Boy Three with The Specials bandmates Lynval Golding and Staple.
Hall would go on to release solo work and collaborate with artists including Mushtaq of Fun-Da-Mental, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, before The Specials reformed in 2008. The band released their last album Encore in February 2019, which went straight to number one in the UK Albums Chart.
How did he die?
The news of Hall’s passing was shared by his bandmates. While no exact cause of death was given, they confirmed the frontman had died “following a brief illness” in a statement on Twitter.
The thread read: “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.”
What happened to him aged 12 in France?
Hall opened up about what happened to him in France in 2019 during an interview with Richard Herring ’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. He told Herring that at age 12 he had been abducted by a paedophile ring in France.
Speaking to the comedian and podcaster, he revealed: “At 12 I got abducted by a paedophile ring in France and that was a real eye-opener.” Hall added: “And 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 like not listening to anyone.”
Hall later recalled in an interview with The Big Issue that he was medicated throughout his teenage years, sharing that he “was on Valium when I was 13 and it took me out of life for six months.”
What are the lyrics for ‘Well Fancy That!’?
The singer sang about his experience in the 1983 Fun Boy Three single ’Well Fancy That!’ from the album Waiting. The song makes for tough listen: in it Hall recalls the abduction and subsequent child abuse.
Hall sings: “You took me to France on the promise of teaching me French,” with other lyrics recalling: “The hedge that you dragged me through, led to a nervous breakdown. If I could have read, what was going on inside your head, I would have said, that I was blind to your devious mind.” Whilst others add: “There’s no excuse, for child abuse and the scars that it leaves.”
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