Sad to hear today of the death of Ranking Roger, singer with the two-tone band The Beat (aka The English Beat in the USA, and The British Beat in Australia).
The blending of youth culture in music and race, through British two-tone and ska of the 70s and early 80s, seemed to be a beacon for racial integration in an increasingly divided UK at the time.
As a party DJ, it’s always a thrill when you get to play tunes and genres that, these days, are far from mainstream, and so it was when a small group of American lawyers and bankers in their 50s (one very senior in the firm), having their annual staff dinner in a smallish Hong Kong bar, asked if I could play some two-tone.
The bar wasn’t big enough for dancing, but tables and chairs were rapidly pushed aside for them to indulge in a bit of skanking and pogoing in their immaculate tailor-made suits.
To me, seeing that group of well-educated Caucasians embracing a British inter-racial youth culture that, itself, emanated from the poorest parts of Jamaica, was something of a legacy of a movement that almost was.
Roger has to be regarded as one of the pioneers of that movement, and I have to thank him for helping bring the joy of Jamaican music to white rude boys everywhere.
RIP Ranking Roger.
Watch him ranking on YouTube here