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Neville Staple arrived in Rugby, Warwickshire, from Jamaica when he was five. He later moved to Coventry, and when he was older was a regular at the Locarno Ballroom, where he met the resident DJ, Pete Waterman. Waterman managed The Specials for a short while and wrote the foreword to the book, Original Rude Boy: From Borstal To The Specials, Neville’s biography published in 2009.
Neville had originally signed up to be a roadie to a band called The Coventry Automatics, a band that was soon to change its name to The Specials. The band was touring as supporting act to The Clash, Neville went on stage with his incredible vocals and, as they say, he never looked back.
The band’s lineup included Jerry Dammers, Horace Panter and Silver Hutchinson. Terry Hall, Roddy Radiation and John Bradbury would join later, replacing former members.
Once established as The Specials in 1977, the band had seven consecutive UK top 10 singles between 1979 and 1981, before deciding to split up. In 2009, they reformed for an anniversary tour, and The Specials tickets proved very popular among a diverse audience.
When The Specials broke up, Neville formed Fun Boy Three with Terry Hall and Lynval Golding, and over the two year life span of the band they had six UK top 20 hits. Two of the hits were in collaboration with Bananarama who Neville contacted after seeing them featured in The Face magazine. Credited with helping launch the all girl group they had hits with T’ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It) and Really Saying Something.
In 1990, Neville formed Special Beat, a revival group that was a response to the huge interest in ska in the US. He moved to California to work with some North American ska bands.
Neville returned to the UK in 2004, and formed The Neville Staple Band, which included four former members of Bad Manners, a successful British ska band.