Farewell Terry Hall

Posted on December 20, 2022

I remember a few years back when George Michael died, I found it a bit odd how morose some people were. The main demographic was women of a certain age who felt connected to him. It was not until later I appreciated what a decent, yet vulnerable bloke he was. It was a sad demise for someone who was generous, funny and always prepared to send himself up (see Ricky Gervais’s Extras). Yet, I still didn’t understand the connected sadness.

When the Clash’s Joe Strummer died 20 years ago, I would half expected to feel a bit sad. That sadness never came, despite Strummer being a legend in my house. Probably because I was only 35, had young kids and a business I was trying to make work. I didn’t have time to be sad for a rock star. Grief is an odd thing that I have always tried to avoid. I used to feel that some people like to show they are grieving, even when they aren’t really. You know the type; people who take selfies of themselves looking sad at the gates of Auscwhitz. What the fuck is that all about?

A Bit Flattened

So, when I heard of the passing of Terry Hall last night, I was surprised at how flattened I was by it. I have been feeling a bit run down with man flu lately, so I had just spent the evening watching Detectorists on iPlayer to perk myself up. Then the news of Terry Hall’s death popped up on music Facebook group I am the admin for. It was a real shocker. A sudden realisation we are entering the next phase of life where the people we grew up with, start dying off.

When The Specials first emerged out of Coventry, I really liked them but I was only 11. I had no understanding of racial issues in the UK as I was born in a Hampshire backwater. Racism wasn’t a problem where I lived. There was plenty of racists but barely any black or Asian people to abuse. My experience of racism was so limited, I didn’t really know what The Specials were about back then. Why would I? I was 13 when they split up, so just a kid living next to a nuclear bomb factory.

Late Learning

I followed Terry Hall’s career through the 80’s, onto the Fun Boy Three, then The Colourfield who were short lived but excellent. The single, ‘Thinking of You’ has been entrenched in my all time top 10 more or less since the first day I first heard it. His mid 90’s album ‘Home’ written and produced with Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds was also a regular in my car tape deck. I also discovered today he assisted with the football anthem Three Lions, giving voice coaching to David Baddiel and Frank Skinner.

However, it wasn’t until later in life I learnt more about Terry Hall, the person, and actually got to see The Specials live. The internet and access to YouTube and various interviews has allowed us to learn more about people than we would have in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I only learnt a few years back that Terry Hall had a life fighting off depression after being sexually and physically abused by a teacher. This left him addicted to Valium at just 14. It makes me feel sick thinking about it.

Fighting for the Underdog

His early life inspired Terry Hall to have a career fighting for the underdog not only in his music but also in his every day life. He fought against division, racism and bullying, uniting people who politicians didn’t want to unite. Terry Hall and The Specials did more for racial and social awareness than any government ever has done. Countless people now in their 50’s and 60’s will have had better more fulfilled lives by The Specials making them see that racial harmony is better than hate and division. What a legacy to leave.

Not only was Terry Hall a great songwriter and frontman, he was a lovely human being. It’s so sad he has died prematurely as he was enjoying making new music with The Specials. The tributes to him on the radio today have been honest and heartwarming rather than false and gushing. They all came from good people who had been inspired by his music and Terry Hall the person. They loved Terry Hall and he loved them.

The world needs less loud mouth cowards and more Terry Hall’s.

1 Reply to "Farewell Terry Hall"

  • AZZURRI 06
    April 18, 2023 (7:38 pm)

    Really nice tribute. RIP Terry.

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