"I wanted to be like him": music stars pay tribute to The Specials' Terry Hall

Terry Hall of The Specials
(Image credit: Samir Hussein/Redferns via Getty Images)

The music world has reacted to the news that Terry Hall, frontman of British ska and two-tone innovators The Specials, has died aged 63. The Specials were one of the most influential acts to emerge from the British music scene of the late 70s and early 80s, and social media has been awash with tributes to Hall and his band this morning.

"I was deeply saddened to hear about Terry Hall's passing on Sunday," commented Hall's Specials bandmate Neville Staple. "[Staple's wife and manager] Sugary was called as we arrived in Egypt. We knew Terry had been unwell but didn't realise how serious until recently. We had only just confirmed some 2023 joint music agreements together. This has hit me."

"A terrible loss to all of us, way too young," Tweeted fellow British ska veterans Madness. "RIP Terry Hall." "We are very sad to hear of the passing of Terry Hall the lead singer of The Specials," posted English reggae legends UB40. "Another one gone too soon! RIP Terry."

"This is sad sad news," posted The Prodigy founder Liam Howlett on Instagram. "I grew up to his voice and The Specials, they were my generation. So sad to hear this. Terry Hall you will always be a legend to me RIP."

His Prodigy bandmate Maxim also paid tribute, stating: "Terry Hall was a musician I grew up listening to. He was one of the reasons I do what I do. I wanted to be like him. His voice, his style, everything he did when I was 15 had an impact on my life. He will be truly missed."

"The Specials were a celebration of how British culture was envigorated by Caribbean immigration but the onstage demenour [sic] of their lead singer was a reminder that they were in the serious business of challenging our perception of who we were in the late 1970s,". commented Billy Bragg. "RIP Terry Hall."

"Gutted to hear of the passing of #terryhall," said Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin, also a former romantic partner of Hall with whom she co-wrote standout Go-Go's single, Our Lips Are Sealed. "He was a lovely, sensitive, talented and unique person. Our extremely brief romance resulted in the song Our Lips Are Sealed, which will forever tie us together in music history. Terrible news to hear this."

"The protest soundtrack to our youth & the blueprint of our band," Tweeted trip hop band Massive Attack. "Rest in power Terry Hall." 

"Sad to receive the news of Terry Hall’s passing last night from Lynval Golding," commented Elvis Costello, the producer of their debut album. "Terry’s voice was the perfect instrument for the true and necessary songs on The Specials. That honesty is heard in so many of his songs in joy and sorrow. My condolences to his family and friends."

US ska punk band Less Than Jake posted a simple tribute: "Thank you Terry Hall. Thank you The Specials." "Just heard the very sad news that Terry Hall has died," said Leftfield's Neil Barnes. "Such an amazing singer. He sang about real people and real issues. People I could identify with. Such a loss. A brave guy."

"Rest In Peace Terry Hal," tweeted English post-punk duo Sleaford Mods. "King of the Suedeheads. A big man. Hope you find peace now mate." "God damnit. Just heard the news about Terry Hall," posted Frank Turner. "What an absolute sadness. The Specials were one of the most important bands for me as a kid. Taught me many things I needed to know. Gutted. RIP." Liam Gallagher posted a typically to-the-point sentiment, simply Tweeting: "RIP TERRY HALL LG x."

See some of those aforementioned tributes below.

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Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.