Singer Ranking Roger of English Beat, General Public dead at 56

Musician Ranking Roger Charlery, singer with ska-pop band The English Beat, has died at the age of 56.

The band said in a statement on its website Charlery died Tuesday “peacefully at his home surrounded by family.” He suffered a stroke last year and had been diagnosed with brain tumours and lung cancer.

“Words cannot express our sadness at the loss of our friend & brother,” the band said, thanking fans for their outpouring in a subsequent Twitter post.

Formed in Birmingham in 1978, The Beat — rebranded The English Beat in North America to avoid confusion with an American group — were key players in Britain’s “two-tone” ska movement. The band’s hits included Mirror in the Bathroom, I Confess, Save It For Later, a sped-up cover of Motown hit Tears of a Clown and Stand Down Margaret, a political anthem directed at then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Beat members Dave Wakeling and Charlery later left the group in 1983 and formed General Public. The group’s Tenderness was a Top 40 hit in both Canada and the U.S., something The English Beat never achieved despite critical acclaim.

The group also reached the Top 40 in Canada in 1994 with a cover of I’ll Take You There.

After General Public dissolved and between reunion tours and recording with The English Beat, Charlerly released solo albums and collaborated with Sting, Big Audio Dynamite, and Smash Mouth.

Despite his health issues, Charlerly kept up a busy pace in recent times. An album released in January, Public Confidential by The Beat featuring Ranking Roger, included contributions from his daughter and son.

In addition, the band’s website was also promoting his autobiography due later this year, I Just Can’t Stop It, which was also the title of their first album in 1980.

Sting, who just wrapped up a stage production in Toronto, said in a social media post Charlery had been at the centre of a “febrile and explosive clash of cultures, uniquely placed to document the excitement of those times.”

“Thank you, Roger. You will be missed,” Sting wrote.

Others paying tribute online included members of The Beat’s British reggae contemporaries The Specials and UB40, as well as Mike Mills of R.E.M., who opened for the band while beginning their rise to prominence.

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