×

Ranking Roger, of English Beat and General Public, Dies at 56

Roger Charlery, aka Ranking Roger, the singer and toaster from the English Beat, General Public and Special Beat, died today after a battle with cancer, a rep for the band confirmed to Variety. He was 56.

The group, which has existed in several different forms over the years, issued a statement on its social media accounts saying, “Sadly Roger past away a few hours ago peacefully at his home surrounded by family.”

The Beat — whose members were called the English Beat in many territories due to an already existing band — arose out of the British Midlands in the late 1970s as part of the “2 Tone” ska revival based around the label of the same name. While the the Specials (the movement’s leaders) Madness, the Selecter, the Bodysnatchers and others hewed to a more punk-meets-ska template, from the beginning the Beat set their own tempo, incorporating more reggae into their sound along with lead singer Dave Wakeling’s original and politically tinged lyrics. Roger was a combination toaster and hypeman, dancing energetically across the stage, playing percussion and pumping up the crowd along with his widely imitated toast/raps during the songs.

The group left 2 Tone after releasing their debut single (a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown” for their own Go-Feet imprint through Arista. They released three albums — including their stellar 1980 debut, “I Just Can’t Stop It” — and were a leading light of British alternative music until their split in 1983 (the opening act on their final U.S. tour was R.E.M.).

Wakeling and Roger quickly formed a new group called General Public, whose debut album was produced by Clash guitarist Mick Jones. While their three albums produced several alternative-radio singles and were successful, they didn’t quite have the same magic as the Beat.

Roger released a solo album in 1988 called “Radical Departure,” and in the years since he performed with several different incarnations of a reformed Beat, incorporating various members of the 2 Tone extended family. The Beat’s most recent album, 2016’s “Bounce,” was their first in 30 years.

“I’m devastated to lose Roger, my Special Beat partner!,” wrote Neville Staples on Instagram, referencing his nickname for Roger, Turbo. “@SugaryStaple& I have been privately visiting him & his family, at every opportunity over the last 2 of wks, willing him the strength to recover again. Sadly the fight of the lion’s fire has gone out. My whole band and I are so saddened and I will miss Turbo so badly.”

 

More Music

  • Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike

    Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Take No. 1 Spot on Top 100 DJs Poll

    The duo of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike top DJ Mag’s 2019 Top 100 DJs poll, returning to the list since taking the No. 1 spot in 2015 and dethroning Martin Garrix after three years of dominance. The results of the Top 100 DJs were arrived at from 1.3 million votes cast in 179 countries. [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Marc Byers

    Execs from Motown, Live Nation, Recording Academy Set to Speak at Culture Creators' Inaugural C2 Summit

    Culture Creators, the organization which recognizes minorities in film, television, music and fashion, is holding its first-ever C2 Summit on Oct. 21 in Washington D.C. Its mission: to engage, mentor, and provide recruitment opportunities to students of color attending historically black colleges and universities. Students were selected from an application process and will participate in [...]

  • Rami Dawod SESAC

    SESAC Toasts Rami Dawod as Pop Songwriter of the Year

    Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same” and “Electricity” by Mark Ronson and Silk City featuring Dua Lipa are just a few of the co-writing credits celebrated during an October 16 dinner at Nobu Malibu hosted by SESAC in honor of Rami Dawod. Named Pop Songwriter of the Year by the performance rights organization, Dawod is [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content