×

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

  • Anne Litt of KCRW

    KCRW Names Anne Litt Program Director of Music (EXCLUSIVE)

    Influential Los Angeles-area NPR affiliate KCRW has filled one of the positions left vacant with the exit of music director/”Morning Becomes Eclectic” host Jason Bentley last September by naming longtime on-air personality Anne Litt to the newly created position of program director of music. The job title may be different, but this puts Litt in [...]

  • Lil Nas X and BTSVariety Hitmakers

    Lil Nas X and BTS to Team Up for Grammy Performance

    Was Lil Nas X the pop culture phenomenon of 2019, or was it BTS? Either way, the Grammys have it covered — and within a single number. The Recording Academy and CBS officially confirmed Thursday that the rapper and the K-pop group will perform together on the awards telecast Jan. 26. It’s not the first [...]

  • Deborah Dugan

    Ousted Grammy Chief Talks Corruption Claims in TV Interviews (Watch)

    Little relevant new information was unveiled in ousted Grammy CEO Deborah Dugan’s appearances on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning” on Thursday. The executive, who was placed on administrative leave last Thursday after the organization made a strongly worded but vague claim of “misconduct” against her former assistant (who was also the assistant [...]

  • Deborah Dugan

    How Deborah Dugan Sealed Her Fate at the Recording Academy

    Deborah Dugan’s ouster from the top job at the Recording Academy, just ten days before the Grammy Awards, was a shock to nearly everyone not directly involved in the decision. But according to multiple sources and the bombshell complaint her attorneys filed on Tuesday, she and the Academy establishment were working at cross purposes almost [...]

  • Amazon Music

    Amazon Music Tops 55 Million Users, Still Playing Catch-Up to Spotify and Apple

    Amazon is famously reluctant to release specific numbers about its users, so it’s notable that the e-retailing giant announced that it has surpassed 55 million customers worldwide for Amazon Music. The company didn’t reveal how many of those users are on its various pricing tiers, but said subscriptions to Amazon Music Unlimited grew by more [...]

  • Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons

    HBO Teaming With Bill Simmons on Music Docuseries

    Bill Simmons’ The Ringer is continuing to expand its relationship with HBO. The company, which already produced the “Andre The Giant” doc at the cabler, is teaming with HBO on a six-part docuseries about the world of music. The project is slated to air on the network in 2021 and will center on pivotal moments [...]

  • Joey Kramer Aerosmith

    Aerosmith Drummer Joey Kramer Will Not Be Allowed to Play at MusiCares, Court Rules

    Drummer Joey Kramer, a founding member of Aerosmith who’s been with the band for five decades, will not be joining his groupmates onstage at the MusiCares Person of the Year gala on Friday, Jan. 24, a Massachusetts court ruled today (Jan. 22). Kramer sued the band — comprised of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content