Thanks to his sister Eky (who I work with), today I had the honour of meeting the legend that is Ranking Roger.
For those of you that don’t know, Ranking Roger was a member of The Beat (or ‘English Beat’ if you’re reading from the US) who had hits with songs such as ‘Ranking Full Stop’, ‘Mirror in the Bathroom’, ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’, ‘Tears of a Clown’, ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’ and ‘Whine and Grine/ Stand Down Margaret’ amongst others. Without any doubt, Ranking Roger was the coolest member of the band and the one that me and my white friends all used to try to impersonate and also want to be…!!!
The Beat were part of the 2 Tone movement (paraphrased from Wikipedia):
2 Tone was a music genre created in England in the late 1970s by fusing elements of ska, punk rock, rocksteady, reggae and pop music.
The 2 Tone sound was developed by English musicians (mostly based in the West Midlands area) who grew up hearing 1960s Jamaican music and decided to play a similar style of music. They combined that style with influences from contemporary punk and pop music. The new music genre (and associated subculture) became known as 2 Tone because most of the bands were signed to the record label 2 Tone Records at some point. Other record labels associated with the 2 Tone sound were Stiff Records and Go Feet Records. Bands considered part of the 2 Tone genre include The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, Madness, Bad Manners and The Bodysnatchers.
Many people think the 2 Tone name refers to black-and-white outfits worn by rude boys and skinheads, and to unity between black people and white people.
As a teenager, I was heavily influenced by the 2-Tone movement. Not only was the music fantastic but it was also highly political and had lots to say, not least about bringing people of different colour and cultures together. Because of this, it made me think about and indeed challenge some of the prejudices and stereotypes that I had grown up with. Undeniably, 2 Tone has left an indelible mark on me and has helped shape some of the values and principles that I believe in today.
Meeting Ranking Roger then even after all these years was something that I really appreciated and so offer my sincerest thanks to both Eky and Roger for making it happen.
“Funny how the best things never last for every day…” (From, ‘Hands Off She’s Mine’)