The Specials (also known as The Special AKA) is an English "2 Tone" ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry, England. Their music combines a danceable ska beat with punk's energy, underpinned by an informed political and social stance.
The group was formed by songwriter/keyboardist Jerry Dammers, with Terry Hall (vocals), Lynval Golding (guitar, vocals) and a rhythm section featuring Horace Panter (bass) and John Bradbury (drums; born 16 February 1953, died 28 December 2015). The band wore mod-style 1960s period "rude boy" outfits (pork pie hats, mohair suits, and loafers). In 1980, their song "Too Much Too Young", the lead track on their The Special AKA Live! EP, reached number one in the UK. In 1981, the unemployment-themed single "Ghost Town" also hit number one in the UK Singles Chart. After seven consecutive UK Top 10 singles between 1979 and 1981, the band broke up in 1984. A version of the band reformed from 1994-2001. In 2008, the band reformed again and, in2009, embarked on a 30th anniversary tour. In 2010, they toured America and Europe. In 2011 they again touring the UK.
In 1979, their debut LP hit the shelves and quickly soared into the UK Top Five. The album was produced by Elvis Costello and was released under founding member, Jerry Dammer's record label 2 Tone Records.
After two albums and a string of very successful singles the band called it quits in 1984. The bands members moved onto their other musical projects. In 1994 they toured with the original line-up without Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers. Roddy sang Terry's parts. The line-up changed in 1996. The band split again in 2001.
In 2008, The Specials officially announced that they would reform and embark on a 30th Anniversary Tour in 2009. The founding member, Jerry Dammers was not part of the reformed Specials and relationships between him and the rest of the band have remained sore, particularly on Dammers' side of things.
In January 2013, the Specials announced the departure of Neville Staple. In February 2014 it was revealed that another original member, Roddy Radiation, had left the reformed group. In spite of this, the Specials played an extensive tour in the autumn of 2014 with Steve Cradock as lead guitarist.