Ranking Roger (The English Beat, General Public), dead at 56
We're sad to report that Roger Charlery, aka The (English) Beat and General Public vocalist Ranking Roger, died Tuesday, March 26 at age 56. He had been fighting cancer for a while. The sad news was shared via The Beat's Facebook page, saying "Sadly Roger past away a few hours ago peacefully at his home surrounded by family."
Roger's distinctive toasting -- and singing -- style was one of the many things that made 2 Tone greats The Beat's sound so distinctive, heard on such classic singles as "Ranking Full Stop," "Stand Down Margaret," and "Drowning." When The Beat broke up after their third album, Roger and Dave Wakeling would form General Public who made three albums together, including their great 1984 new wave debut. Roger also made a few solo albums, including 1988's Radical Departure, and had his own version of The Beat going in the UK, having just released new album Public Confidential back in January. His autobiography, I Just Can't Stop It, is due out later this year.
Rest in peace, Roger. Watch a few English Beat, General Public and solo videos below.
Tributes have poured in, including his Beat and General Public bandmate Dave Wakeling who said, "If I know Ranking, he already found Saxa and Joe Strummer, are they're all jamming right now with Bowie!" Specials founder Jerry Dammers, meanwhile, said, "If one person had to be picked to epitomise everything that was good & positive about the British ska movement and its youthful spirit, I think it would have to be Roger." Read more tributes from Billy Bragg, The Specials, REM's Mike Mills, Michael McKean, The Selecter, Selecter singer Paulie Black, UB40, and more, below.