Some of my readers will find this a rather strange post from me. So I found out today The English Beat and General Public vocalist Roger Charlery…also known as Ranking Roger has passed away.
I graduated from high school in 1981. My freshman year in college I discovered many new sounds in music including Ska. Madness and English Beat were played everywhere. When English Beat broke up we danced and listened to General Public….and still danced and listened to English Beat.
The sounds of my being a teenager. I still listen to both English Beat and General Public from time to time. Lots of happy and fun memories attached to the music.
R.I.P. Ranking Roger from one of your U.S. fans.
Here is the obituary from The Guardian in the U.K.:
Ranking Roger obituary
Singer and frontman for the ska revival band the Beat
By Peter Mason Wed 27 Mar 2019 07.07 EDT
Ranking Roger, who has died aged 56 after suffering from cancer, was a singer and frontman for the Beat, one of the four big British ska revival bands – along with the Specials, Madness and the Selecter – to emerge after punk in the late 1970s. The Beat’s flowering was a brief one, but Roger was at the heart of the group’s successes in the early 80s, when they had five Top 10 singles and two Top 5 albums in the UK before splitting in 1984. He had songwriting credits on many of their most popular compositions, and alongside duties as joint vocalist with Dave Wakeling was also the band’s “toaster”, talking in stylised fashion over various song sections in a mode popularised by reggae deejays of the late 60s and early 70s.
Later he pursued solo projects and collaborations with various well-known bands and artists, including Big Audio Dynamite and Sting, before touring and recording with a reincarnation of the Beat, with whom he worked until his death….Born Roger Charlery in Birmingham to Jean-Baptiste, a toolsetter, and his wife, Anne Marie, both of whom had emigrated to Britain from the Caribbean, he grew up in the Small Heath area of the city, next to Birmingham City football ground. ….Drawing heavily on Jamaican musical themes from the 60s but with a distinctly British feel and punk sensibility, the Beat, along with Madness, the Specials and the Selecter, swiftly became part of the 2-Tone movement, which took its name from the independent label to which each of the bands initially signed. Four of the Beat’s first five singles made it into the Top 10, including their third release, Mirror in the Bathroom, which peaked at No 4, and Too Nice to Talk To, at No 7. Their debut LP, I Just Can’t Stop It, was released in 1980 on their own Go Feet label and featured their most talked-about composition, Stand Down Margaret, which was banned by the BBC and had Roger’s toasting to the fore as it called for the resignation of the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. The album reached No 3 in the charts, as did its follow up, Wha’ppen? in 1981…..
Early this year, Roger announced that following a stroke and the discovery of two brain tumours he had also been diagnosed with lung cancer.
• Ranking Roger (Roger Charlery), musician, born 21 February 1963; died 26 March 2019
I also like this article from the Edinburgh Reporter:
Can’t get used to losing Ranking Roger
By Mike Smith – March 27, 2019
Those who know me know my love for ska music. The news that Ranking Roger, lead singer of legendary ska band The Beat, has died after a period of illness was like a dagger to my heart.
I loved The Beat. I’m proud to say I’ve seen them many times over the years. Their sublime musical talent, their ceaseless energy, their gift of being able to lift one’s spirits when they are at their lowest will be with me forever. Songs such as Mirror In The Bathroom, Hands Off She’s Mine, Too Nice To Talk To, Doors Of Your Heart – became classic numbers. They also did superb cover versions of Can’t Get Used To Losing You and Tears Of A Clown.
Ranking Roger – real name Roger Charlery – was a ska icon, bouncing across the stage with boundless energy. …..It was what The Beat did best. Their music invoked a feelgood factor and I have never been to one of their gigs which I didn’t enjoy or feel so much better afterwards.
Roger was just 56 years old – a year younger than I am which underlines that none of us are immune from tragedy….