Ranking Roger of General Public, the Beat Dies at 56

Ranking Rogers, lead singer of the Beat (aka the English Beat in North America) and a founding member of General Public, died at home in England Tuesday, March 26.

Roger, second from right in black hat (Image via Arista)

His death was confirmed by a post on the Beat's Facebook page, which read:

“'He fought & fought & fought, Roger was a fighter.' Sadly Roger past away a few hours ago peacefully at his home surrounded by family. Roger’s family would like to thank everyone for their constant support during this tough time. More to follow in the coming days. RIP ROGER! ❤️”

He had undergone surgery for brain tumors, suffered a stroke last summer and had recently confirmed he was battling lung cancer.

Born Roger Charlery on February 21, 1963, in Birmingham, England, he was an early punk rock fan who joined the Dum Dum Boys as a drummer, a rare man of color (his parents were both from Saint Lucia) in the movement.

The very first time the Dum Dum Boys played, it was with the Beat, which led to Roger performing with them, which in turn led to him officially joining the band, which was noted for its ska revivalism.

Roger with Madonna in 1984 (Image via Madonna Scrapbook)

His authentic West Indian style and brash delivery earned him his profesionall name, with Ranking referring to "high-ranking."

The Beat's biggest stateside hits were "Hands Off ... She's Mine" / "Twist and Crawl" (1980), "Mirror in the Bathroom" (1980), "Save It for Later" (1982), "I Confess" (1982) and "Can't Get Used to Losing You" (1983). The band released the albums I Just Can't Stop It (1980), Wha'ppen? (1981) and Special (1982) before a 1983 split.

Following the split, Roger formed General Public with his Beat bandmate Dave Wakeling (b. 1956); it marked a pop right turn for the two, who had invited Mickey Billingham (b. ?), Mick Jones (b. 1955), Horace Panter (b. 1953) and Stoker (b. 1959) into the group with them.

General Public tasted Top 40 success in the U.S. with the #27 single "Tenderness" (1984) from their All the Rage (1984) album, later releasing the album Hand to Mouth (1986). Later, following a split and lineup changes, General Public also released the album Rub It Better (1995).

As a solo act, Roger released the albums Radical Departure (1988), Inside My Head (2001) and Retrospective (2013). Along with many other musical collaborations over the years, he recorded a cover of "I'll Take You There" as a duet with Wakeling in 1994 for the Threesome soundtrack that was credited to General Public — it became a #22 hit in the U.S.

From 2005 on, Roger — along with his son, Ranking Junior, and daughter, Saffren — performed live and recorded with a reformed version of the Beat, an entity that also produced albums, including albums of new material. It most recent album Public Confidential by the Beat feat. Ranking Roger, was released in January.

Roger completed a memoir that will be published later this year. Watch this gripping video shot in January in which Roger talks about his failing health:

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