Obits — March 26, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Ranking Roger, of The English Beat and General Public, 1963-2019

Photo by Jim Stokes

Ranking Roger, the beloved vocalist and toaster for 2 Tone-era ska legends The Beat and spin-off group General Public, died on Monday, just two months after he publicly revealed he’d been diagnosed with two brain tumors and lung cancer. He was 56.

Born Roger Charlery, the musician alerted fans in January to his very serious health issues, just days before he was set to release a new studio album with his version of The Beat.

On Monday, the band confirmed Roger’s death via Twitter: “RIP who sadly past away peacefully at home with family by his side early today. Roger was a fighter.”

Dave Wakeling’s version of The Beat tweeted: “This is difficult. Words cannot express our sadness at the loss of our friend & brother. A loss to the world and to music certainly, but most keenly felt by those who loved him best. Deepest condolences to his family & to our Beat family worldwide.”

In September, he’d revealed that he suffered a stroke the preceding month, and that, while he was recuperating, he was forced to cancel planned tours of the U.S. and the U.K. with his version of the band.

But in a video posted in January, Roger explained that his prognosis was much more severe than the “mini stroke” that was publicly acknowledged last year. When he was hospitalized, doctors discovered he had two brain tumors — one of which needed to be removed immediately — and lung cancer. The two tumors were removed, and he was undergoing immunotherapy for the lung cancer.

At the time, the former General Public member said:

“I know I can sing. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just that I don’t think I’ll be running around the stage as much as I was, certainly for the first three months or six months, because I wouldn’t want a seizure on stage. … I know I can sing still. There’s not a problem with the voice. And I know I can skank still. I’ll never forget how to do that. But I just mustn’t get too excited and start darting across the stage again. But I think eventually I probably will be able to. We’ll just see how this treatment goes, that’s all I can say. But I’ve got a lot of optimism.”

Roger was of West Indian descent, and was born in Birmingham, England. After becoming enamored with punk as a teen, he first expressed himself musically as a drummer before joining The Beat in the late ’70s, pairing his Jamaican-style toasting with Wakeling’s more traditional vocals. The band released three classic albums: I Just Can’t Stop It in 1980, Wha’ppen? in 1981 and Special Beat Service in 1982.

After the Beat split in 1983, Roger and Wakeling formed General Public and released the classic single “Tenderness” and two studio albums.

Below, check out tributes to Roger from some of his contemporaries, and some vintage video.















  1. He recently completed his autobiography, and released two brilliant albums, Bounce and Public Confidential. Bless him.

  2. I think I read that he and Dave Wakeling reunited onstage. Glad for that. Life is short. RIP.

  3. haunted when the minutes drag

    Loved the Beat. Aside from maybe the Specials, the best ska band of the 80s. Will be missed.

  4. Sigh.

    Thanks for the music and the memories that went with it man.

  5. You will be missed. RIP.

  6. Enjoyed listening to their music gr8 memories good brotha roger

  7. Been a long time fan ! So sad . So I will continue to play his music for years to come !! God Bless Him ..

  8. He’s toasting in heaven.

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