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.
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. 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”.
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. Later in his solo career and with the reunited Specials, he would sing lead as well as toast. When he joined 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.
Fun 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.
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 to work with many of these 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.
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 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), Andy Perriss (guitar), Stephen Armstrong (bass) Joe Atkinson (from Flipron, keyboards) and Patrick Pretorius (from The Talks)/Matty Bane (drums).
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 and Juliette Ashby.
Original 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.
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’ www.sugarystaple.com. 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 www.sugarystaple.com and see one of the ‘Original Rudegirl Sounds’ videos on the video gallery tab.
Jah Baddis Sound System
NEVILLE STAPLE & TREVOR ‘ET ROCKERS’ EVANS
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…!
Get 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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