(Above:) The last Harry Pye painting of 2022 was a portrait of 2 Tone legends Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers. The title is: "Terry & Jerry in the Summer of 81" 65cm x 90cm, Acrylic on Canvas.
Above: Photo of Terry taken by Harry Pye in 2012.
Above: Photo of Jerry taken by Harry Pye in 2010
My childhood heroes The Specials were a band from Coventry - to some they were a post punk ska revival band, to others they were a mod band or an Art School band, some fans only wanted to dance to their music whilst other fans loved their mix of very funny songs and very serious political songs. On the fantastic debut album produced by Elvis Costello in 1978 the line up was: Jerry Dammers on keyboards, Terry Hall and Neville Staple on lead vocals, Lynval Golding on rhythm guitar, Roddy Radiation on lead guitar, Horace Panter on bass, John Bradbury on Drums, plus Dick Cuthell on trumpet and Rico Rodriguez on trombone. Also important were photographer Chalkie Davies and video director Barney Bubbles. Golding and Radiation both composed a couple of the band's most popular songs. And Terry co wrote "Man At C & A" with Jerry, and also contributed lines to a couple of Jerry's songs (e.g. "all the girls are slags" in"Nite Klub") That said, Jerry was the architect of The Specials and the 2 Tone label, the main song writer and the arranger. But Terry's good looks, his distinctive vocal delivery and "Mum, I want to go home" look, plus the fact that, unlike Jerry, he was from a working class background all played a part in the band's success.
It was so sad that Terry Hall lost his battle with cancer and died on December the 18th 2022. He was only 63. Terry Hall was a wonderful front man, he had a lovely voice and had a great way with words. I love pretty much everything The Specials did from "Gangsters" to "What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend" but like most fans I think they probably peaked with "Ghost Town" was stayed at Number One for 3 weeks in the Summer of 1981.
The Ghost Town e.p. which featured; "Why? " and "Friday Night Saturday Morning" is one of the best singles of all time. But Terry, Lynval and Neville weren't happy so they left the band to be The Fun Boy Three.
"The Specials had become one big joke. Jerry was drafting people into the band and the first we'd know about it was when they'd turn up on stage!"Terry explained to NME journalist Adrian Thrills in Feb 1982. (Possibly this is about flute player Paul Heskett and singer Rhoda Dakar being added to the line up when promoting "Ghost Town"?) Neville Staple added: "It got to the stage where we didn't all have a say in what The Specials were doing. But we're not kids, so we should have a say. People can't be yes-men all the time." Terry explains that there were other problems causing frustration... "The trouble with those songs was that we always had to have a guitar part and a bassline just to accommodate The Specials as a band. I wanted the song "Friday Night Saturday Morning" to be recorded with just a piano and vocals, as if it were being sung by a bloke in a pub, not by a band."
The Fun Boy Three had their moments such as; "Lunatics" and "Farm Yard Connection." While Jerry was helping produce tracks like "The Boiler" by Rhoda Dakar and throwing his energies into the Artists Against Apartheid project. Terry co-wrote the pop classic "Our Lips Are Sealed" with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos) which got to Number One in America. He also discovered Banarama who went on to become Britain's the most successful female band. In an interview with The Face magazine Hall said he was constantly being asked about his relationship with Jerry Dammers. Terry explained there was no big feud and that Jerry was one of the most intelligent people he'd ever met.
After The Fun Boy Three Hall was lucky to get to collaborate with guitarist and keyboard player Toby Lyons and bass player Karl Shale. They formed The Colourfield whose wonderful debut album ("Virgins And Phillistimes") released in 1985 features brillaint songs like 'Take' and 'Thinking of You'. Jerry Dammers had revealed that his song "Housebound" (from his "In The Studio" L.P) was about Terry being scared to leave his home. I've wondered if any of Terry's lyrics about guilt and betrayal on the first Colourfield album were in some way connected to his feelings about Jerry.
I remember reading Terry's interview with Tony Fletcher for Jamming in March 1985 and being shocked by Terry's trashing of The Specials - something he would continue to do for quite some time.
Terry Hall: "There was no racism in Coventry until The Specials started singing about it.... Ghost Town was an embaressment... I just don't like the idea of holding up a gold disc when its got a lot to do with unemployment... (In The Specials) I was getting wages for doing sod all."