80’s Ska Legend And “Tenderness” Hitmaker, Dead At 56
The Beat / Facebook
News Confirmed By Longtime Bandmates
It’s with a heavy heart that we report that Ranking Roger, singer for influential 80s two-tone ska band The English Beat and later, General Public, has died at the age of 56. The news was confirmed this afternoon by Roger’s longtime friends and bandmates The Beat, who took to Facebook to issue a brief, but heartfelt statement about his passing and the fighting spirit that saw him through to the end as he passed away this morning, peacefully and surrounded by his family.
“He fought & fought & fought, Roger was a fighter.
Sadly Roger past [sic] 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! ❤️”
Born Roger Charlery in Birmingham, England, Ranking Roger’s journey into legend began as a teen when he discovered punk music, falling in love with it almost immediately. He soon transferred that love into a stint as the drummer for a group called the Nam Nam Boys, before fate led him to The English Beat in the late 70s. Together, they cranked out classics like “Save It for Later” and our personal favorite, “Mirror In the Bathroom,” before ultimately calling it quits in 1980.
The end of The English Beat proved to be just the beginning for Roger. In 1984, he and bandmate Dave Wakeling formed a brand new band: General Public, featuring former members of The Clash, The Specials, and even Dexys Midnight Runners, who famously penned the 1982 megahit “Come On Eileen”. General Public went on to release 3 albums together, finding success in the United States with the bubbly, upbeat “Tenderness”.
In recent years, Ranking Roger led a brand new version of The Beat but was plagued by health issues in his final years. He reportedly suffered a stroke in summer 2018 and in January 2019 it was revealed that he had undergone surgery for two brain tumors and was undergoing treatment for lung cancer; no official cause of death has been released at the time of this article’s writing, but it’s not far fetched to surmise that Roger’s passing could be related to his cancer battle.
Regardless, he will be sorely missed and our hearts go out to his friends, family, and bandmates during this difficult time.