After a brief illness, the band revealed late on Monday that Hall had passed away. One of the greatest singers, songwriters, and lyricists this nation has ever produced, he was referred to as “our wonderful friend, brother, and one of the most brilliant.”
The band gained notoriety in the 1980s for its fierce anti-racism stance and opposition to the right-wing policies of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.
Hall joined the band that would become The Specials in the English Midlands city of Coventry in the late 1970s, a time of racial tension, economic gloom and urban unrest. With its mix of Black and white members and Jamaica-influenced style of sharp suits and porkpie hats, the band became leaders of the anti-racist 2 Tone ska revival movement.
With Hall’s deadpan vocals setting the tone, The Specials captured the uneasy mood of the times in songs including ‘A Message to You, Rudy’, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Too Much Too Young’.
The band’s most iconic song is the melancholy, menacing ‘Ghost Town’, which topped the U.K. music charts in the summer of 1981 as the UK’s cities were erupting in riots.
The Specials had seven UK Top 10 hits before Hall and fellow band members Neville Staple and Lynval Golding left in 1981 to form Fun Boy Three. It scored hits including ‘It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It’) and ‘The Tunnel of Love’.
Hall later formed The Colourfield and collaborated with artists including The Go-Go’s co-writing the group’s 1981 debut single, “Our Lips Are Sealed.”
Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin remembered Hall as “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,” she wrote on Twitter.
Singer-songwriter Elvis Costello also offered condolences, saying “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.”
Most of the original Specials reunited in 2008, staged a 30th-anniversary tour in 2009 and in 2019 released an album of new material, “Encore,” which became the band’s first U.K. No. 1 album. A follow-up, “Protest Songs 1924-2012,” was released in 2021.
Hall’s bandmates said he was “a wonderful husband and father and one of the kindest, funniest, and most genuine of souls. His music and his performances encapsulated the very essence of life the joy, the pain, the humour, the fight for justice, but mostly the love.”
“He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him and leaves behind the gift of his remarkable music and profound humanity. Terry often left the stage at the end of The Specials’ life-affirming shows with three words ‘Love Love Love.'”