Monkey Man Ska music
A tribute to Terry Hall
Terry hall, a tribute to you!
This is a tribute to a genre of music I grew up with back in the late 70’s. More importantly to the singer of The Specials, Terry Hall, who passed away tragically this year (December 2022).
Before the start of the 2 Tone revolution I was a long haired kid listening to 70’s Rock & Roll groups. The likes of Showaddywaddy, Slade, T-Rex, Suzi Quatro, and many more from that era.
Some people back then said I was the spitting image of Dave Bartram, because of my hair style and features (dimples).
Then came along a completely new musical sound, which changed my look pretty much overnight.
At the time I was trying to download the Top 40 from the radio on my twin deck Music Centre. A Christmas present I had mithered my mum & dad to help me buy.
The first record I heard was Gangsters by The Special AKA and was blown away. Although I had heard many Reggae artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Eddy Grant.
The sound of SKA was reborn in July 1979, and I loved it. I didn't know anything about where it originated, except I liked the upbeat sound.
As soon has I had the opportunity to buy the record, I was at the local record shop in my town, Javelin Records.
I know I must have frustrated my mum no end playing the record over and over again. Everything about the design of the record label, the sleeve was artistic.
Playing the B-Side was just has exciting, which was Selector by The Selector!
From that day I changed my appearence overnight, and the first thing to go was the long hair. Having already enrolled into the army, it was easy to explain to my mates why the new haircut.
All my friends at the time had heard the new sound on the radio, and they where hooked too. Eventually one by one they all had haircuts, Crew Cut #1. I think maybe 10 of us at the time formed our own gang!
Then came the cut-off jeans, the 12 holed Doc Martins with yellow laces, and the Fred Perry T-Shirts.
The original Ben Sherman shirts came later!
Always being fashion conscious, I persuaded my mum to order 4 different colours of Fred Perry T-Shirts (Maroon, Blue, Black and White) from her Freemans catalogue. Important too, only 3 buttons, and monogram buttons!
To finish the final touch I bought myself a Burgundy Harrington jacket, and had a friend buy me a purple Pork Pie hat from Blackpool. I ripped off the Kiss Me Quick band from the hat and replaced it with a Black & White chequered band.
By this time I had transformed into a true 70’s Mod, and other records had been released. The Prince by Madness was the second great release on the 2 Tone label. Released in September 1979, I heard this on a John Peel Show one night while looking for new music.
I bought this record immediately it was released, and consequently every Two Tone single thereafter. When I entered the army in May 1980, my record collection remained back home in the North West of England.
Of course all the records where transferred to Maxell Audio Tapes (only the best) to listen at the army barracks.
All this was initiated by the very tallented Jerry Dammers, and his vision to form the group The Specials. Terry Hall will leave a very lasting legacy to all who had grown up with the British Ska scene.
I suppose it would not be fitting to mention the other groups that owe it to Jerry Dammers and Two Tone Records. Giving them all a platform to showcase a new musical movement which was British Ska.
⦁ The Selector
⦁ The Beat
⦁ Elvis Costello
⦁ The Bodysnatchers
⦁ The Swinging Cats
⦁ The Appolinaires
⦁ The Higsons
Terry Hall’s distinctive voice will linger in the memories of many who continue to enjoy the music! I know whenever I need to return to my youth, the first song I search for is Monkey Man by The Specials. Thats me transported back and reliving my youth!