Roger Charlery, aka Ranking Roger, vocalist of the seminal two-tone band The Beat, and General Public, has died surrounded by family last night (Tuesday 26).
A statement on The Beat’s website reads: “He fought & fought & fought, Roger was a fighter. Sadly Roger passed away a few hours ago peacefully at his home surrounded by family. Roger’s family would like to thank everyone for their constant support during this tough time. More to follow in the coming days. RIP ROGER!"
Formed in Birmingham in 1978, The Beat, along with founding Coventry two-tone bands The Specials and The Selecter, sought to diffuse racial tensions within society at the time, and what better way to do that than through music.
Genre-defining songs such as ‘Stand Down Margaret’, written in protest to Thatcher’s policies in the 80s, still seem as relevant as ever in the tumultuous political climate we face today.
The Beat’s distinctive style, characterised by Ranking Roger’s Jamaican reggae/ska-inspired ‘toasting’, coalesced a generation seeking racial harmony and an end to far right extremism. Richly infusing the ska that first developed in Jamaica in the 50s/60s with urban UK new wave and punk influences, The Beat were at the forefront of the 2-tone label, now widely acknowledged as one of the most influential movements in the UK's musical landscape.
Uplifting, joyous and life-affirming, to witness Ranking Roger on-stage throughout his career was to understand the true motivation behind the music - a desire to bring people together, joined by a mutual passion for ska and a genuine love and respect for the culture it represents.
Roger was a lively and vivacious character - even whilst dealing with his health challenges he managed to release a 10-track album with The Beat, entitled Public Confidential in January of this year, as well as completing his biography ‘I Just Can’t Stop It’ co-written by Daniel Rachel. It will be published by Omnibus Press late Spring/early Summer (exact date TBA).
Let’s all raise a ’toast’ to Roger.
Rest easy, Rude Boy. x