A Message to You Rudy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Rudy a Message to You"
Single by Dandy Livingstone
B-side"Till Death Do Us Part"
ReleasedJuly 1967 (1967-07)
StudioMaximum Sounds Studio, Old Kent Road, London
LabelSka Beat
Songwriter(s)Dandy Livingstone
Dandy Livingstone singles chronology
"One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer"
"Rudy a Message to You"
"Somewhere My Love"

"A Message to You Rudy" is a 1967 rocksteady song by Dandy Livingstone. Originally titled "Rudy a Message to You", the song later achieved broader success when, in 1979, a cover version by The Specials reached number 10 in the UK Singles Chart.[1]

Composition and recording[edit]

Livingstone came up with the idea of the song in about 10 minutes and recorded it a day or two later in about 20 minutes at Maximum Sounds Studio on Old Kent Road with engineer Vic Keary. Livingstone has said that he "had a very bad cold" on the day of recording and so it was suggested that he record the song as a guide vocal and then go over the vocals another day. However, everybody liked what Livingstone had done, so he didn't bother going back to sing over it. Whilst recording the song, Livingstone decided he wanted a trombone to feature in the song, so about a week after the recording session, he got trombonist Rico Rodriguez to play the intro melody. At the same time, he got a tenor saxophonist called Pepsi to play the same intro riff and "alternate the solo differently".[2][3][4]


"Rudy a Message to You" did have some success commercially, selling 30,000 units.[5] It also peaked at number 9 on Record Mirror's Top R&B Singles chart in August 1967, in which it was listed as "Rudie Take a Message".[6]

The lyrics warn a "rudy" (rude boy) to think of his future and change his ways, otherwise he will end up in prison. However, the reception was not what was intended and it was received as glorifying the rude boy culture.[7]

Livingstone noticed that by 1969, there were three cover versions of "Rudy a Message to You", first of which was by The Locomotive. He only found out about The Specials' version after seeing their performance on Top of the Pops, after which he made inquiries about the publishing. He found out Carlin Music was the publisher and they had been trying to find Livingstone's whereabouts. Livingstone was also contacted by Eddy Grant, who wanted to be the publisher of the song and gave him £250 in advance. However, Livingstone turned down the offer and signed with Carlin.[2][4]

After the success of The Specials' version, Livingstone's version was re-released in December 1979 on Trojan Records, with the song remixed by Clem Bushay.[8]

The Specials version[edit]

"A Message to You Rudy"
Cover of the single released in the Netherlands
Single by The Specials featuring Rico
from the album The Specials
A-side"Nite Klub"
Released12 October 1979 (12 October 1979)
Songwriter(s)Dandy Livingstone
Producer(s)Elvis Costello
The Specials singles chronology
"A Message to You Rudy"
"Too Much Too Young"

The Specials' version also features trombone by Rico Rodriguez[9] and Dick Cuthell played on trumpet. The recording was produced by Elvis Costello. The version was sampled by Sublime in their song "DJ's".


Chart (1979) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[10] 10
Chart (1980) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[11] 29
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[12] 7
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 19
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[14] 22
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[15] 35
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[16] 29


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Gold 400,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

In popular culture[edit]

The song was featured prominently in the sci-fi film Vivarium.


  1. ^ "A Message To You Rudy/Nite Klub", Chart Stats; retrieved 2010-08-26.
  2. ^ a b Taylor, Angus (27 May 2019). "Interview with Dandy Livingstone - The Return of a Legend". www.reggaeville.com. Archived from the original on 2019-05-27. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
  3. ^ "An interview with Dandy Livingstone". Reggae Steady Ska. 2020-12-29. Archived from the original on 2020-12-30. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
  4. ^ a b Reggae Interviews: Dandy Livingstone 'Rudy, A Message to You'. YouTube. 1 July 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  5. ^ Garvin, Patrick (2016-11-28). ""A Message To You, Rudy": Cover Songs Uncovered". The Pop Culture Experiment. Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2021-03-04.
  6. ^ "Britain's Top R&B Singles" (PDF). Record Mirror. 12 August 1967. p. 11. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  7. ^ Amon Saba Saakana and Sebastian Clarke (2009). Jah Music: The Evolution of the Popular Jamaican Song. Heinemann Educational. p. 89. ISBN 9780435821401.
  8. ^ Dandy Livingstone – Rudy, A Message To You (1979, Vinyl), retrieved 2021-03-05
  9. ^ "Rico Rodriguez". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 286. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "The Specials – A Message To You Rudy" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Message to You Rudi". Irish Singles Chart.
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 5, 1980" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  15. ^ "The Specials – A Message To You Rudy" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  16. ^ "The Specials – A Message To You Rudy". Top 40 Singles.
  17. ^ "British single certifications – Specials – A Message to You Rudy". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2 December 2022.