24th Aug, 2019

The Specials' Terry Hall hits out at Coventry council 'apathy' over 40-year celebrations - and fans call for city to honour them

Les Reid 15th Jul, 2019 Updated: 16th Jul, 2019

MANY fans of Coventry’s finest band The Specials have called on the city to honour them – after lead singer Terry Hall criticised the council’s ‘apathy’ during 40th anniversary celebrations.

His comments came on Friday night as the city’s much-loved greatest band – and enduring global export – were coming to the end of their fourth gig in four consecutive nights at the Coventry Cathedral ruins – to celebrate 40 years of their record label 2-Tone.

He said: “Good of Coventry Council to celebrate with us. There’s apathy and then there’s apathy.”

The band also expressed their appreciation to the city’s people amid the stunning backdrop – as sirens and searchlights joined the music in evoking Coventry’s history.

The record label born in Coventry spawned not just The Specials, The Selecter and The Beat – but a music and culture with a lasting message of bringing people together regardless of race.

Our Music Matters columnist Pete Chambers – curator at Coventry Music Museum – had called in the Coventry Observer in early May this year for the city to do more to honour it legendary band – whose number one hit ‘Ghost Town’ is among many songs which still resonate today.

The call from music journalist and author Pete – whose books include one on Coventry’s ‘2-Tone Trail’ – came as American city Los Angeles prepared to stage an annual ‘Specials Day’ in recognition of the band.

Street names in Coventry, statues and ‘freedom of the city’ nominations have been mooted.

Many joined calls for Coventry to do more after we tweeted Terry Hall’s remarks on Friday night.

Carole Donnelly, who until recently ran the now closed Priory Visitor Centre showcasing the original cathedral’s ruins, tweeted that she had tried to get Coventry City Council “to do something to recognise the achievements – 40 years & a number one album.”

“Sad to say it fell on deaf ears,” she added. The Specials deserved more from our city. #CityofCulture.”

Andre Gailee tweeted: “Succinct statement from Terry… he who knows apathy when he sees it.

“Not a surprise surely from Coventry council.”

John McDevitt said on Twitter: “Coventry City Council will probably start a The Specials Day in Coventry and take all the plaudits for another job well done!

“Terry was spot on with his apathy quote as it’s absolutely correct.”

Chris McGrath joined other Coventry City football fans in stating: “We all know how Coventry City Council don’t support anything from Coventry eg: Coventry City and Coventry Bees to start with.”

Justin Beale tweeted: “I heard it too, sounds like Coventry City Council doesn’t know where the jewels are.”

Specials bassist Horace Panter tweeted: “Saturday morning and can’t stop thinking about how great the 4 homecoming gigs in #Coventry @CovCathedral have been! BIG THANKS to all the organisers and to all the fans who came… hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did! It was emotional! ;)”

Pete’s Music Matters column for the Coventry Observer in May stated..

So Los Angeles is to have a day to honour Coventry’s finest band The Specials later this month.

I hang my head in shame that their own city can’t do something similar in this their 40th Anniversary year.

The celebrated Rolling Stone music magazine reports that Los Angeles City Council has announced that this May 29 will be forever be known as ‘The Specials Day in honor of the UK band The Specials’.

This band have put our city on the music map. Ask most people what Coventry is famous for and chances are they will tell you The Blitz, Lady Godiva, cars and 2-Tone music.

The current Specials have just hit number one with their comeback album Encore and last week appeared as guests on the BBC prime time Graham Norton Show.

Former members Roddy Byers and Neville Staple have always supported the city of Coventry, playing countless charity gigs through the years and generally being amazing ambassadors for this city, while the Specials creator Jerry Dammers is received in the musical world as a statesman and all-round genius.

As I have said before, maybe a Specials road or a civic reception when they play at the cathedral in the summer. It has to be all the original members, as they all played their parts in this wondrous story and RIP Brad no longer with us, but always remembered.

Pete added today:

“In 2006  I wrote an article looking at the impact of Two Tone music, particularly in Coventry, wondering why The Specials and The Selecter have never been honoured in their home city. I said at the time…

‘….no Honorary Degrees (that has now changed of course), no Freeman of the City. Seems a shame, of course I understand that they were just musicians, but what they created was more than just music, Two Tone was always more than just that. That’s why I’m reclaiming the phrase, This town is coming like a host town”!

“A year later Jerry Dammers received an Honorary degree. But despite being the undisputed instigator of the Two Tone idea, he never did it on his own. There are 13 others who were responsible for the initial creation of the label and making this musical form a phenomenon throughout the world.

“They too must be remembered they are, from The Specials: Roddy Byers, Horace Panter, Neville Staple, John Bradbury, Terry Hall and Lynval Golding. From the Selecter there was: Neol Davies, Pauline Black, Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson, Compton Amanor, Charley ‘H’ Bembridge, Desmond Brown and Charley Anderson. Many others were also involved, but It was these 14 people who created the fledgling 2-Tone record label, it’s sound and it’s cultural philosophy, effectively a blueprint that others would later work from.

“So now even  Los Angeles is to have a day to honour  The Specials. I hang my head in shame that their own city  still can’t do something similar in this their 40th Anniversary year.”

We have contacted the council for comment.

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