Terry Hall: Specials frontman died of pancreatic cancer, says bandmate
Specials bassist Horace Panter recounted Hall’s diagnosis and final months – and their plans to record a new album
Terry Hall was the self-assured eye of the Specials storm
Terry Hall: lead singer of the Specials dies aged 63
The Specials frontman Terry Hall died as a result of pancreatic cancer, his bandmate Horace Panter has said.
In an emotional note shared on Facebook, the band’s bassist said that the group – then comprising Panter, Hall and guitarist Lynval Golding – had intended to record a new album in Los Angeles in November, produced by Roger Rivas of the Aggrolites.
It was to be the reggae album they intended to make in 2020 before Hall’s writer’s block pushed them towards an album of political covers, Protest Songs 1924–2012, released in 2021. “Terry had the framework for eight tunes,” said Panter. “Confidence was high.”
In September, Hall emailed his bandmates to say he had a stomach bug and had to miss the first week of pre-production sessions ahead of their flight to Los Angeles on 4 November. “No big deal, we can knock everything back a week,” wrote Panter.
But Hall’s condition didn’t improve. On 2 October, the band’s manager, Steve Blackwell, called to say that Hall had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas which had spread to his liver, and developed diabetes as a result of his pancreas being attacked, requiring treatment and chemotherapy.
“There is nothing anyone can do,” wrote Panter. “Everything is put on hold.”
Hall was “emphatic” that nobody be told about his illness. While chemo started “favourably”, it became apparent the band would not be in a position to work until March 2023, with Hall in and out of hospital to stabilise his diabetes and manage the pain.
“It then goes quiet,” wrote Panter.
By the start of December, Hall had “lost a lot of weight and is very frail”. By mid-month, Blackwell visited Hall and afterwards called Panter to say that Hall was dying.
On 16 December, “he is put on morphine and is more-or-less unconscious for most of the time”, said Panter. Hall’s wife, director Lindy Heymann, advised Panter against visiting and invited him to say his goodbyes over the phone. “So, I did. It was tough.”
Hall died around 5.30pm on 18 December. “The world has lost a unique voice and I have lost a good friend,” Panter wrote.
Panter is among legions of musicians to pay tribute to Hall following his death, among them his former collaborators Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, as well as Madness, the Proclaimers, UB40 and Massive Attack, who called the Specials “the protest soundtrack to our youth & the blueprint of our band”.