Neville Staple Biography

“Nothing came close to the sensational Neville Staple Band who really got the party started and had the masses dancing along” Anita Merritt-Exeter Express & Echo.

Neville Staple, Legendary front man of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Special Beat, also known as The Original Rude Boy, celebrates 40 years of his top music career, while celebrating 40 years since the beginning of the 2-Tone movement. He is credited with changing the face of pop music not only once but twice. His UK and International career in the music industry, is well documented and started out from the early days with Ray King, Pete Waterman, The Coventry Automatics and his Jah Baddis Sound System, before taking to the stage with The Specials on tour with ‘The Clash’. He has scores of musical awards including from MOJO, NME, Gold & Silver discs and a lifetime achievement award from his home city of Coventry (where the 2-Tone Movement was born), and where he is celebrated as their living legend.

“Out on his own, still pretty special” Record Collector

Neville states, “I remember the massive reactions to the hit songs like Ghost Town, Too Much Too Young and Gangsters and fans still write to me about my rugged, energetic and fun stage presence. The way we bring ska to the mainstream is by mixing Jamaican music with the English punky style. I love performing live and always include my hits with The Specials along with other career favourites. Every show is like a massive party where the brilliant fans love to, stomp or sing-along.”

Neville continues to write, perform, collaborate and produce new music, alongside his wife, Christine ‘Sugary Staple’, and his 2-Tone legacy is huge, the music that fused traditional Jamaican ska and reggae music with punk rock attitude, energy and musical elements. The movement helped to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain and still resonates today. The actual black and white chequered imagery of 2 Tone has become almost as famous as the music itself. Neville has worked with top International & mainstream artists and on TV, Film and exhibitions, during his highly successful career.

“Nothing came close to the sensational Neville Staple Band who really got the party started and had the masses dancing along” Anita Merritt-Exeter Express & Echo.

Neville’s 2-Tone legacy is huge.  2-Tone fused traditional ska music with punk rock attitude, energy and musical elements. The movement helped to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain. The actual black and white chequered imagery of 2 Tone has become almost as famous as the music itself. He has kept this Coventry phenomenon alive and kicking throughout the decades with several hit albums (with another brand new album released Sept 2018 with his wife ‘Sugary’), a top selling autobiography, International touring with his bands and a constant stream of new albums, videos, TV appearances and music writing and producing.

Neville Staple Book Original Rude Boy

Neville’s autobiography, THE ORIGINAL RUDE BOY, was published by Aurum Press in the UK in May 2009. It is an amazing story that tells of Neville’s journey from Jamaica to Rugby (then Coventry) as a child, his interest in music in the early ‘60s, his relationship with Pete Waterman (record producer, songwriter, radio and club DJ and television presenter) who he met at a club in Coventry and his rise out of hell into stardom.  In 2018 there was an exclusive ‘Original Rude Boy Neville Staple – THE EXHIBITION’, on at the Coventry Music Museum at the 2Tone Village, Coventry CV2 4ED, where Neville is an honorary patron. The band are also currently promoting anti-knife crime since the highly publicised fatal stabbing of Neville’s 21-year-old grandson in 2018, working with various groups including the Victim Support charity, cadet forces and youth interaction projects. Neville Staple and Sugary also work with schools, charities and youth groups / young offenders, providing special talks, performance tips, music lesson guest-tuition and fund-raising activities.

Neville Staple worked with the Lord Mayor to support Coventry in winning the ‘City of Culture 2021’ bid and was recently presented with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ during a special performance with the children of Foxford School. Now as patrons of the historic Albany Theatre’s new space, Neville and Sugary continue to work with inner-city children on various creative projects. Neville’s work and performances are regularly screened on mainstream TV.

“For me, ska and reggae has to be spot on to really work. Yes, I am a snob! Life’s too short. The proof is that, once you listen to ‘Return of Judge Roughneck’, you will be smiling, nodding and indeed a-grooving round your lounge. It’s fun, but he means it” Martin Haslam, Uber Rock, Feb 2017

“it is a joyous concoction of ska, reggae and dub, featuring intriguing remixes and fascinating bastardisations of old favourites. Add to the mix a few choice cover versions, and unexpected ones at that, and what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable album from start to finish”. Loz Etheridge, God Is In The TV.  Feb 2017

Following on from the 2009 Specials reunion and his departure from the band in late 2012, Neville Staple continues to be a forerunner of the ska movement and continues to thrill audiences with his own excellent band, The Neville Staple Band, at venues and festival appearances worldwide. His relentless tours across the UK sees him performing at many festivals, including a recent headline slot on the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury Festival and other top fests. His recent Worldwide shows include Hong Kong, Europe and Australia, with Brazil and others planned for 2018 onwards. He performed for his home City of Coventry, on the main stage at there highly celebrated 20th Anniversary Godiva Festival and continues to headline festivals and tour shows across the UK and overseas with his top band.


Neville was born in Christiana, Manchester, Jamaica. At the age of five, Neville left Jamaica to live in the English town of Rugby, Warwickshire, where he went to school but later moved to Coventry. He was initially active in the sound system scene forming his own crew called “Jah Baddis”. Neville was a regular fixture at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry where he met its resident DJ, Pete Waterman. Pete was heavily involved in the seventies reggae scene before going on to become a major pop producer in the 1980s. Pete has written the foreword to Neville’s biography – “Original Rude Boy” – and briefly managed The Specials.


specialsThe Specials

Neville’s first involvement with The Specials was when they were still called The Coventry Automatics. He became good friends with Jerry Dammers at their local youth club in Coventry and initially joined as their roadie before Terry Hall and John Bradbury joined the band, then at a gig supporting The Clash, Neville impressed Jerry with his toasting from the mixer desk, got called on to the stage and never looked back. He became the band’s cheeky and energetic front man and performed additional and lead vocals.  For a while, The Specials were managed by The Clash’s manager Bernard Rhodes of whom Neville used to toast “Bernie Rhodes knows don’t argue” at the beginning of the Specials hit single “Gangsters”.[2]

Neville’s vocal style is toasting or chanting over a rhythm, as well as singing. A forerunner of rapping which was brought to Britain in the 1960s by musicians from Jamaica. Neville honed his toasting skills on the sound system scene in Coventry during the 1970s, starting out on his cousin Alvin’s ‘Messenger Sound System’, then later with his own sound system called ‘Jah Baddis’, with Trevor ‘ET Rockers’ Evans and other friends. . When he joined as crew to the Coventry Automatics, the line up already included Jerry Dammers, Horace Panter and Silverton Hutchinson on drums. Terry Hall subsequently came in as vocalist, replacing Tim Strickland, and Roddy Radiation on lead guitar. The now late John Bradbury later took over on drums from Silverton. Neville participated in a reunion line up of The Specials from 1993 to 2001, and again from 2009 to 2012, when he left the band due to personal reasons. During the reunion years Neville took part in the huge ‘BBC Reggae Britannia’ TV screenings and shows and performed alongside Amy Winehouse for a massive televised ‘V Fest’ show. (also see

Fun Boy ThreeFun Boy Three

When The Specials split up, Neville departed with Terry Hall and Lynval Golding, to form Fun Boy Three. They had a string of chart hits, some in collaboration with the all-female trio Bananarama.

In 2000, Staple’s re-recordings of hits by The Specials and Fun Boy Three were released as The Very Best of the Specials and Fun Boy Three, though without being prominently labelled as a solo work by Staple.

Special BeatSpecial Beat

In 1990, Staple joined Ranking Roger from The Beat to form Special Beat, a revival group playing hits from both former two-tone bands. This was in response to the huge explosion of interest in ska in the United States. The so-called “Third Wave” of ska. Neville moved to California in the 1990s and worked with many of the new American ska acts. Bands he collaborated with included No Doubt, Rancid and Unwritten Law. Neville also featured on the song “Explosive” by the Canadian ska band, The Planet Smashers.[6]

Neville Staple Solo

Solo career

Neville worked for many years in the US with various bands and also with The Hitmen, including providing soundtracks for the movie, ‘Vampires Anonymous’ and extensive touring and Multiplicity. He also worked with bands like No Doubt (with Gwen Stefani), Rancid, Desorden Público, Planet Smashers, Say Ferris, The Pilfers and Reel Big Fish in their early days, plus many others.

In 2004, Neville returned to the UK and formed “The Neville Staple Band”, releasing the critically acclaimed[8] album The Rude Boy Returns, with contributions from Clash guitar man Mick Jones and Damned drummer Rat Scabies, with Flipron‘s Joe Atkinson’s on organ. The group featured former members of the British ska band Bad Manners with Warren Middleton (trombone – later replaced with Spencer Hague), Andy Perriss (guitar – late replaced with Billy Shinbone), Stephen Armstrong (bass) Joe Atkinson (from Flipron, keyboards) and Patrick Pretorius (from The Talks – occasionally deps)/Matty Bane (drums).[9]. Neville’s wife/manager Christine Sugary Staple began performing with the band from 2015/16.

Since 2004, Neville has relentlessly toured the UK, Europe, The Middle East, Australia & New Zealand with his own band, as well as several successful tours and shows alongside Ranking Roger of The Beat and Pauline Black of The Selecter as Special Beat and Legends of Ska. He also helped to launch the career of Johnny Zee (aka Taz Nation / Stereo Nation) of Bollywood music fame, after managing and producing for him early on.

In 2013 Neville produced a new album called ‘Ska Crazy’ with his band for release May 2014, which includes old ska classic covers and brand new material. His wife Christine Sugary Staple and long time friend Daddy Woody, a Jamaican DJ/Artist, also provide vocals on the album.

Neville has also worked on various collaborations with ‘The Mutants’ (Rhythm and Punk Review) including co-writing 4 tracks on the album – one of them also co-written with his wife Christine (Two Tone Girl), plus songs with ‘The Talks’ and ‘Flipron’ as well as tracks with ‘The Dub Pistols’ (release 2014), Ed Rome, ‘Duplex’, The Rifffs MT, Juliette Ashby and Save Ferris.

In 2017 ‘Return Of Judge Roughneck (& Dub Specials)’ album was released. See:

Original Rude BoyOriginal Rude Boy (From Borstal to the Specials)

In April 2009, Neville Staple set out on a reunion tour with The Specials. The same month also saw the launch of his biography Original Rude Boy published by Aurum Press. The top selling book covers Neville’s involvement with the 1970s sound system scene and childhood in Jamaica. Then how a chance encounter with Jerry Dammers and The Specials led to his involvement in that band and Fun Boy Three. Neville collaborated with former BBC journalist Tony McMahon on the book and both are registered with the Blake Friedmann literary agency. Pete Waterman provided the foreword to the book.


Rudegirl SoundsRudegirl Sounds

From 2014, along with extensive touring with his band, Neville has made a return to production work and recently produced his brand new album, ‘Return Of Judge Roughneck’ released on Cleopatra Records in 2017, which is a mix of brand new material and adapted classic ska covers. He also produced the ‘Rudegirl Sounds EP’ in 2015 with his Christine ‘Sugary Staple’ The sell out EP tracks sees 3 new songs written by Sugary, plus 2 collaborated writings. Neville also featured on two of the tracks with his famous toasting and singing style. The full album is also due to be released in 2017, which includes more of Neville’s collaborations with Sugary and a duet cover of Stranger Cole’s ‘When I Call Your Name’, following a request for them to do it by Stranger Cole himself. Roddy Byers also features. Check out more details at and see one of the ‘Original Rudegirl Sounds’ videos on the video gallery tab.


Jah baddis file small fb

Jah Baddis Sound System


Jah Baddis Sound System is the historic DJ team with the Original Rudeboy Neville Staple and best friend, Trevor ‘ET Rockers’ Evans (also regularly joined by Charley Anderson formerly of the Selecter).

They toured dance halls and clubs with their super-sized 70’s sound system, adding toasting flavour and style over new and classic reggae, ska and dub sounds.

This was all prior to Neville’s rise to fame, fronting The Specials & 2-Tone Records, with his unique Jamaican style lyrics and high energy dance moves. Now the Jah Baddis Rudeboys are out to play…!

It was during his DJ / toasting rehearsals in a room at the Hollyhead Youth Club, in Coventry, where Neville heard a ‘weird, punky, ska sound’ in the next room. He went to be nosey and met Jerry Dammers of The Specials (called The Coventry Automatics at the time). They became good friends and the rest is history…!


Neville Staple Book Original Rude BoyGet the ‘real’ story

A fascinating but harrowing tale of an uneasy life’ (Lois Wilson Mojo) ‘There’s a charm –and often downright cheek- in everything this “Rude Boy –made-good” has done…

There’s more than enough colourful behaviour to keep you smiling’ (Jake Kennedy Record Collector)

‘The book offers an insightful account of 1970s Britain; a time crippled by joblessness and economic gloom, but also uplifted by the new sound of the time: 2 Tone.’ (The Voice)


The Specials were the undeniable leaders of new music in the late 1970s and 1980s and this chronicle tells their story and that of a musical era.



The Neville Staple Band

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