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Tales from the Archives: The Boys are Back in Town

​Harriet explores influential Coventry band, The Specials and their journey ahead of their 40th Anniversary.

Anyone who knows The Specials will know their tumultuous history.

After bursting onto the Coventry music scene in 1979 their perceptive lyrics about current social and political issues melded with their energetic music created a phenomenon which struck a chord with the populace and shot to prominence both here and in America.

(Photograph of the Specials in the 14th February 1980 issue of the Coventry Telegraph. Photograph taken from Coventry Archives)

This is immortalized in a headline from the Coventry Telegraph saying “Specials rock to the top on tour of US” but they did not forget where they came from. Drummer John Bradbury remembered to ring his Mum from Los Angeles to let her know that “things were going very well – they were playing in clubs around the city and enjoying it all very much.”

They were also one of the few bands at the time to have multi-racial members. However, this exultant phase was not to last as in 1981 a hiatus in the band turned into a 30 year rift.

During the last 10 years of that there were several talks between various members of the band, at one point even six out of the original seven were together again. Nevertheless it never quite came together until in the summer of 2008 they were the secret band at the Bestival festival. This was the acid test, did they still have the magic?

They certainly did as 20,000 music fans were inspired by their sound.

On the wave of this success, the reunion for the 30th anniversary was well on its way and a string of dates across the country were confirmed. These culminated in the homecoming gig at the Jaguar Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena on the 15th May 2009. Another sell out success uniting older life-long fans with new generations being introduced.

It is now not long until the 40th Anniversary gigs at the Coventry Cathedral ruins. Gigs which promise to be one big party as the music will be able to be heard all around the area. The Boys are most definitely back in town.