John Bradbury

Specials drummer John Bradbury dies, aged 62

John Bradbury, drummer with The Specials and The Special AKA since 1979, has died suddenly at the age of 62. The band announced his passing in a Tweet posted earlier today.

Bradbury replaced the band’s original drummer Silverton Hutchinson in 1979, shortly before the recording of their début single Gangsters, and played on their albums Specials (1979) and More Specials (1980) as well as the no.1 EP The Special AKA Live and the 1981 non-album single Ghost Town. When the Specials dissolved after this release, with Terry Hall, Lynval Golding and Neville Staple leaving to form the Fun Boy Three, Bradbury stayed with Jerry Dammers in the reconstituted Special AKA. Although they never achieved the same level of success as the original Specials, this line-up released the 1984 single Nelson Mandela which was instrumental in drawing worldwide attention to Mandela’s plight and played an important part in the campaign for his release from prison. The Special AKA split shortly after the release of their 1984 album In The Studio.

After a spell as a producer, Bradbury joined several of his Specials colleagues and the Beat’s Ranking Roger to form Special Beat in 1990. This led to a partial Specials reunion in the mid-’90s, of which Bradbury was not a part, but he returned in 2009 when all the members of the classic Specials line-up (with the notable exception of Dammers) undertook a 30th anniversary tour. Bradbury continued to perform with the band until his death, a few months after the Specials’ celebrated trombonist Rico also passed away.

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