Ranking Roger: The Beat singer dies aged 56

Musicians have paid tribute to singer Roger Charlery, known as Ranking Roger, who has died at the age of 56.

The Birmingham-born star, best known as a vocalist with The Beat, died at home on Tuesday, surrounded by family, a statement on the band’s website said.

Charlery had suffered a stroke last summer and was reported to have been diagnosed with two brain tumours and lung cancer in recent months.

Tweeting condolences, songwriter Billy Bragg wrote: “Rest easy, Rude Boy.”

Singer Sting, who did many live performances and recordings with Charlery, posted a statement of tribute on Instagram.

Charlery’s manager Tarquin Gotch said:

“We have lost a wonderfully talented artist and great friend.

“It has been an enormous honour and privilege for us all to have been a part of his life.”

Neville Staple, formerly of The Specials and Fun Boy Three, sang with Charlery in the band Special Beat. He shared a tribute to his friend on Instagram.

Pauline Black, who fronted two-tone band The Selecter, posted a short excerpt from Hamlet, which read:

“Goodnight sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Mike Mills, one of the founding members of REM, went on several tours with The Beat. He tweeted that Charlery had “brought a lot of joy into the world”.

Meanwhile, Matt Hoy, a touring vocalist with UB40, wrote on Instagram:

“Rest in Peace Ranking Roger, such sad news!! Lovely guy… Way [too] young!! Condolences to his family.”

British reggae band The Skints posted a picture of vocalist Josh Waters Rudge with Charlery. They described him as “an original inspiration, a rebel to the very end and an absolute gentleman always”.

As part of The Beat, Charlery spearheaded the two-tone movement with a distinctive vocal style influenced by the Jamaican rap technique of toasting.

The group enjoyed several top 10 hits, most famously Mirror in the Bathroom – the first digitally recorded single released in the UK.

Their 1980 cover of Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used To Losing You was used as the main sample on Beyonce’s 2016 hit Hold Up.

After the band broke up in 1983, Charlery went on to form supergroup General Public with members of Dexys Midnight Runners and The Specials.

Ranking Roger performs at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London in 2017
Ranking Roger, pictured performing in 2017, had just completed his biography charting the early years of The Beat. Image Copyright: Getty Images

The statement on The Beat’s website said of the singer’s ill-health:

“He fought & fought & fought, Roger was a fighter.”

It added:

“Roger’s family would like to thank everyone for their constant support during this tough time.”

The website had recently announced that Charlery had completed his biography, which was expected to be published by early summer.

Charlery had released an album, Public Confidential, with the band as recently as January.

First Published 27.03.19: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47714991

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