Neville Staple

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Neville Staple
Neville Staple (Dundee Doghouse, 2007)
Neville Staple (Dundee Doghouse, 2007)
Background information
Birth nameNeville Eugenton Staple
Born (1955-04-11) 11 April 1955 (age 68)
Manchester Parish, Jamaica
OriginCoventry, England
Genres2 Tone, ska, new wave
Instrument(s)Vocals, percussion, trumpet
Years active1977–present
Labels2 Tone, Chrysalis, Cleopatra[1]

Neville Eugenton Staple (born 11 April 1955), sometimes credited as Neville Staples,[2] is a Jamaican-born English singer, known for his work with the 2 Tone ska band the Specials, the pop group Fun Boy Three, as well as with his own group, the Neville Staple Band. He also performed with Ranking Roger in the supergroup Special Beat.[3]

Early life[edit]

Staple was born in Manchester, Jamaica. He left Jamaica to live in the English town of Rugby, Warwickshire at the age of five but later moved to Coventry. Neville was a regular fixture at the Locarno Ballroom in Coventry, where he met the resident DJ there, Pete Waterman. Waterman briefly managed the Specials and would later write the foreword to Staple's 2009 biography, Original Rude Boy.[4]

Staple's early vocal style was mostly "toasting"—or chanting over a rhythm—a forerunner of rapping brought to Britain in the 1960s by musicians from Jamaica. Staple honed his toasting skills in the sound system scene in Coventry during the 1970s, first on his cousin's "Messenger Sound" and later his own system called "Jah Baddis".


The Specials[edit]

Staple's first involvement with the Specials was when they were still called the Coventry Automatics. Initially employed as their roadie, Staple joined the band on stage at a gig supporting the Clash. At that point, the line-up already included Jerry Dammers, Horace Panter and Silverton Hutchinson on drums. Terry Hall subsequently came in as vocalist, replacing Tim Strickland, and Roddy Radiation joined on lead guitar. John Bradbury would later take over on drums from Silverton.[5]

In the Specials, Staple sang lead vocals on some tracks or additional and backing vocals alongside Terry Hall's lead. He also contributed to the writing of many of their songs, but rarely received credit.[citation needed]

The Specials were managed for a time by the Clash's manager, Bernard Rhodes, whom Staple toasted in the phrase "Bernie Rhodes knows don't argue" at the beginning of the Specials' hit single "Gangsters".[6]

Fun Boy Three[edit]

When the Specials initially split up, Staple departed with Terry Hall and Lynval Golding to form Fun Boy Three. They had a string of chart hits, some in collaboration with the all-female trio Bananarama.[7]

Third wave of ska[edit]

In 1990, Staple joined Ranking Roger from the Beat to form Special Beat, a revival group playing hits from both former 2 Tone bands the Specials and the Beat. This was in response to the huge explosion of interest in ska in the United States—the so-called "Third Wave" of ska. Neville moved to California in the 1990s to work with many of these new American ska and punk acts, including No Doubt, Rancid and Unwritten Law. Neville also featured on the song "Explosive" by the Canadian ska band the Planet Smashers.[8]

Staple participated in a reunion line-up of the Specials from 1993 to 2001, and again from 2009 to 2012, after which he left the band due to mostly personal reasons, as well as some health concerns.[9]

In 2000, Staple's re-recordings of hits by the Specials and Fun Boy Three were released as The Very Best of the Specials and Fun Boy Three, without being prominently labelled as a solo work by Staple.

Solo career[edit]

Staple worked for many years in the US with various bands, including the Hitmen, the team providing the soundtrack for the 2003 movie Vampires Anonymous. Since 2004, he has toured the UK, Europe, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand with his own band, as well as several successful tours and shows alongside Ranking Roger of the Beat and Pauline Black of the Selecter, as Special Beat and Legends of Ska, respectively. He also helped to launch the career of Johnny Zee (aka Taz of Stereo Nation) of Bollywood music fame, after managing and producing him early on.

In 2004, Staple returned to the UK and formed the Neville Staple Band, releasing the critically acclaimed[10] album The Rude Boy Returns, with contributions from Clash guitarist Mick Jones and Damned drummer Rat Scabies. The group featured former members of the British ska band Bad Manners, with Warren Middleton on trombone (later replaced by Spencer Hague), Stephen Armstrong on bass guitar, Matty Bane on drums and Andy Perriss on guitar, as well as Joe Atkinson from Flipron on keyboards/organ and occasionally Patrick Pretorius from the Talks on drums.


In April 2009, Staple set out on a reunion tour with the Specials.[11][12][13] The same month also saw the launch of his biography, Original Rude Boy, published by Aurum Press. The book covers Staple's childhood in Jamaica and early involvement with the 1970s sound system scene, as well as his work with the Specials and Fun Boy Three. Neville collaborated with former BBC journalist Tony McMahon on the book and both are registered with the Blake Friedmann literary agency.[14]

Later career[edit]

In December 2013, Perriss decided to leave the Neville Staple Band after more than 12 years, replaced by Billy Shinbone on guitar.

In May 2014, Staple released Ska Crazy with his band, which included classic ska covers and brand new material. His wife Christine Staple and long-time friend Daddy Woody, a Jamaican DJ/artist, also provide vocals on the album.

Staple has also worked on various collaborations with the Mutants, including co-writing four tracks on the album Rhythm and Punk Review (one of them co-written with his wife Christine), as well as with the Talks[15] Flipron, Dub Pistols and Duplex. In 2015, Staple produced his wife Christine's EP Rudegirl Sounds. Christine began performing with the Neville Staple Band that same year.

From 2016 onward, Staple has continued to collaborate with other artists, including Save Ferris, the Rifffs, Jessy Greene and Ed Rome, and has toured extensively across the UK, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong and the US. Return of Judge Roughneck & Dub Specials was released in February 2017 and was co-produced with Tom Lowry from Planet Studios and Staple's wife Christine, who also co-writes and performs songs with him. The lead track video was premiered by Vive Le Rock magazine and the album received positive reviews.[citation needed] Staple recreated his famous Judge Roughneck character, first heard as part of the "Stupid Marriage" song on the Specials' debut album on 2-Tone Records. The second half of the album consists of dub music.

In 2018, another joint album with Christine Sugary Staple, Rude Rebels, was released, including collaborations with former Specials bandmate Roddy "Radiation" Byers.

Staple toured with his band celebrating '40 Years of Ghost Town'. The current Neville Staple Band line-up consists of Christine "Sugary" Staple on vocals, ex-Specials member Drew Stanshall on saxophone, ex-Bad Manners members Matty "Bingo" Bane on drums and Stephen "Sledge" Armstrong on bass, as well as Billy Shinbone on guitar, Joe Atkinson on keyboards and Pete New on trombone.[16]

In January 2024, Staple announced that he had been diagnosed with a serious heart defect, and was therefore cancelling all future live performances.[17]

Solo discography[edit]


Compilations and guest appearances[edit]

Artist Title Release
Label Details
Various Artists The Sound of Ska 1989 Music Factory Toasting on "The Sound of Ska Medley"
Various Artists The Shack 1993 BiB Records "Rude Boy De Ponporbation (007)" credited to "Neville Staple aka Judge Roughneck"; "Why?" and "Wear You to the Ball" credited to Neville Staple and Lynval Golding (both tracks actually Specials/Fun Boy Three demos[19])
The Soup Dragons Hydrophonic 1994 PolyGram Toasting on "Rest in Peace", joined by Lynval Golding on guitar.
Desorden Publico Diablo 2000 Guerra Sound Records Appears on "Black Market Man"
Various Artists Off the Wall, Volume IV - A Collection of Vans' Music 2001 Vans Records "Mess With Me" credited to Neville Staple & The Hitmen
Unwritten Law Elva 2002 Interscope Records DJ vocal on "Evolution"
Various Artists Vampires Anonymous (Soundtrack) 2003 N/A "Working Hard", "What Can I Do", "Take a Look at Me", "Pressure Drop" credited to Neville Staple & The Hitmen (all songs written by Neville Staple and Miles Woodroffe except "Pressure Drop"). Neville also cameos in the film.
Planet Smashers Mighty 2003 Golf/Stomp Records Appears on and co-wrote the track "Explosive"
Various Artists The Dawning of a New Era (Mojo, May 2008) 2008 Mojo magazine "Gangsters" credited to Neville Staple
The Talks West Sinister 2012 AOO Records Vocal on "Can Stand the Rain"
Flipron Firework Shoes 2012 Tiny Dog Records Vocal on "The Comet Returns"
Dub Pistols Return of the Pistoleros 2015 Sunday Best
Save Ferris Checkered Past 2017 Withyn Records Vocal on "New Sound"
Death of Guitar Pop Suburban Ska Club 2017 Ska Club Essex Also makes an appearance in the music video[20]
The Red Stripes In the Ska East 2018 Mod Sound Records Vocal on "Hong Kong Special"


  1. ^ Mark Deming "Neville Staple - Discography" "" Retrieved Oct. 30, 2017
  2. ^ "Neville Staples - BFI". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 20 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  3. ^ "Review: Neville Staple in Bridgwater". BBC. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  4. ^ [1] Archived 4 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [2] Archived 16 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ [3] Archived 29 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Bananarama – The Official Website". Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  8. ^ "The Ultimate Punk Music Store!". Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Grapevine". The Specials. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  10. ^ Jo-Ann Greene. "The Rude Boy Returns – Neville Staple : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  11. ^ "6 Music – The Specials reunion". BBC. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  12. ^ "UK | England | Coventry/Warwickshire | Ska band confirms reunion plans". BBC News. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  13. ^ "The Specials reunite for 2009 tour | News". Nme.Com. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Book Clients: Neville Staple". Blake Friedmann. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  15. ^ "The Talks Collaborate with Neville Staple Of The Specials On New Single "Can Stand The Rain"". 9 November 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  16. ^ "FROM THE SPECIALS BAND - NEVILLE STAPLE (BAND) | FROM THE SPECIALS Stars The Original Rude Boy Neville Staple & his Band". Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  17. ^ "The Specials singer Neville Staple cancels all gigs". BBC News. 19 January 2024. Retrieved 22 January 2024.
  18. ^ "Search Results for "neville staple from the specials beyond"". Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  19. ^ Paul Williams; You're Wondering Now: The Specials from Conception to Reunion – Part Two "Neville Staple" and "Lynval Golding" chapters
  20. ^ DEATH OF GUITAR POP (19 September 2017). "DEATH OF GUITAR POP - "Suburban Ska Club" Feat. Neville Staple (Official Video)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2018.

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