Terry Hall: success of Ghost Town made me quit The Specials

Singer tells The Big Issue he felt 'uncomfortable' with the position the band found themselves in

The Specials’ frontman Terry Hall has told The Big Issue the success of 1981 single Ghost Town made him quit the band – because it made him “uncomfortable”.

The single topped the UK charts in July that year, its success taking place against a backdrop of UK rioting, including Toxteth in Liverpool, Handsworth in Birmingham, Brixton in London and Moss Side in Manchester.

However, Hall and bandmates Lynval Golding and Neville Staple left to form Fun Boy Three shortly afterwards  – with Hall, aged just 22, finding the balance between the band’s political message and pop star status hard to strike.

He said: “It felt very weird, for me. I kept it to myself, but when we picked up a gold disc for Ghost Town, I felt really bad about it. We were being rewarded with a gold disc and it felt uncomfortable.

“It was at that point, personally, when I felt this had got to change. It wasn’t making any sense to me. You are being told to celebrate this Number-One record that is about what is happening, the mess that we are in, and I felt very uncomfortable. I felt you needed to be one or the other, you needed to be The Dooleys or you needed to be Gang of Four.

“We were right in the middle then. I didn’t feel comfortable.”

The band’s comeback album Encore is released on February 1.

For an exclusive, behind the scenes look at our cover feature with The Specials revisiting Ghost Town, pick up this week’s Big Issue, on the streets today, and use our Augmented Reality app to bring the pages to life.

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Read the full article in this week's Big Issue.
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Image: Mathew Parri Thomas