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Who's Dat Looking
by The Beat, feat. Ranking Roger
Ranking Roger (1963 to 2019) was an English singer, with 'The Beat'. Roger Charlery was born in Birmingham, England, on February 21st 1963, and grew up in the Small Heath area of the city. Of West Indian descent (Saint Lucia), he attended the Archbishop Williams school, and while there began "deejaying" with 'reggae' sound systems before becoming a drummer with the 'Dum Dum Boys' in 1978. Although a big 'punk rock' fan as a teenager, he instead devoted himself to the 'reggae'/'ska' genre, and their first gig was alongside 'The Beat' (they became internationally known as 'The English Beat', due to multiple use of that name by various groups across the world). His burgeoning friendship with the other band meant he started to gatecrash their gigs and take the mic. He subsequently began "toasting" and singing with them, doing this on many occasions before officially joining the band in the late 1970s. His energetic style and Jamaican-influenced vocals alongside Dave Wakeling were crucial in distinguishing the band from the other second-wave 'ska' bands. 'The Beat' released three albums - "I Just Can't Stop It" (1980), "Wha'ppen?" (1981) and "Special Beat Service" (1982). In 1981, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of 'The Clash' invited Roger to sing on a version of "Rock the Casbah" (however, it was not released until 2015). After 'The Beat' broke up in 1983, he and Wakeling formed 'General Public' with former members of 'Dexys Midnight Runners' and Horace Panter (ex-'The Specials'). After their initial album release called "All the Rage" and a single named "Tenderness", they brought out "Hand to Mouth" in 1986. However, it was much less successful and the band promptly split. He and Wakeling did then reform 'General Public' with new musicians, issuing the album "Rub It Better", after which the pair also collaborated on other projects, reuniting again for the 1994 "Threesome" film soundtrack cover recording of "I'll Take You There". Roger released his first solo album in 1988 - called "Radical Departure", it included band members Horace Panter and Fuzz Townshend. However, on his following 2001 LP "Inside My Head", he pursued a more 'dance'/'electronic' sound. In the early 1990s, he joined members of 'The Specials' to form a new band called 'Special Beat' (they released just two 'live' albums). He was a guest performer in 1994 on "Higher Power", the seventh album by 'Big Audio Dynamite' (back when they were known simply as 'Big Audio'), and later became a member of the group for their final studio album, "Entering a New Ride" (1997). He collaborated with Pato Banton in 1995 on "Bubbling Hot" (which reached No. 15 on the UK Singles charts), and in 1996 backed up Sting when singing and toasting during "The Bed's Too Big Without You", a track from 'The Police' man's "Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot" CD maxi single. 'The Beat' reformed yet again in 2005 (with Roger and Everett Morton from the original line-up) - it featured his own son Ranking Junior on vocals, and they performed some new material at Glastonbury that same year. He sang the song "Roxanne" on stage with 'The Police' during their 2007 world tour, and as a writer contributed to "Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge", mainly written by Daniel Rachel and published in 2016. In later years, he continued to lead versions of 'The Beat', touring with them throughout Europe, and also worked on many solo projects. As well as releasing a series of new albums, the 'rock' band 'Smash Mouth' also featured him on their song "You Are My Number One" in 2003. In early August 2018, he was hospitalised with a suspected mini-stroke, and in January 2019 it was announced that he had undergone treatment for two brain tumours and lung cancer. Ranking Roger died from his medical conditions at his home in Birmingham on March 26th 2019, aged 56.
Posted: 29th April 2019
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace ✚", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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