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The Specials drummer John Bradbury dies aged 62

Published 29/12/2015

John Bradbury of The Specials at the 2010 Shockwaves NME Awards
John Bradbury of The Specials at the 2010 Shockwaves NME Awards

The Specials drummer John Bradbury has died at the age of 62.

Bradbury joined the The Specials in 1979 and remained in the band after the split and reformation as The Special AKA, through to their disbandment in the 80s - and reunion performances from 2008 onwards.

The band had hits with songs such as Free Nelson Mandela, Ghost Town and Too Much Too Young.

In a statement, his family said: " It is with deepest regret that we have to announce the very sad news that our much loved husband and father John 'Brad' Bradbury passed away on Monday the 28th of December.

"Brad's drumming was the powerhouse behind The Specials and it was seen as a key part to the Two Tone sound. He was much respected in the world of drumming and his style of reggae and ska was seen as genuinely ground breaking when The Specials first hit the charts in 1979.

"He was an integral part of The Specials reforming in 2008 and toured with them extensively up to the present day. His contribution to the world of music can not be understated and he will much missed by family, friends and fans alike.

"It is the family's sincerest wish that they are allowed the time to remember him privately."

In a statement on Twitter, The Specials said: "It is with deep regret that we say goodbye to our great friend, the world's greatest drummer, our beloved Brad. RIP."

Bradbury was born in Coventry, The Specials' home town, and joined after original drummer Silverton Hutchinson left the band in 1979.

As songwriter Jerry Dammers's house mate, he filled in for Hutchinson at the recording session for the single Gangsters and was quickly made a permanent member.

At that time, the ska revival band was just taking off, having formed in 1977 as the Coventry Automatics and been through several reincarnations and line-up changes. Dammers had just invented the band's famous "two tone" label in black and white.

From the beginning, the band wrote and performed political music, penning songs such as War Crimes and the anthem Free Nelson Mandela.

Bradbury stayed with the band through many line-up changes and joined the re-versioned band, The Special AKA, after the official split in 1981. He stayed with the band through to their dissolution in 1984.

After the break-up, he formed the band JB's Allstars, and joined bands including Special Beat and Selecter.

Bradbury agreed to participate in The Specials' 2009 reunion tour and continued to play with the band, including a North America tour in 2013.

In 2009, he told The Guardian: "I've never had so much fun as I've been having since The Specials reformed."

In a 2011 interview with Pearl Drums - whose kit he used throughout his career - he said: "When playing live I have a ringside seat to the mayhem that goes on around the stage, sometimes it's like a front row seat at the comedy store.

"Our band has a sense of humour on stage that is second to none. I find the responsibility a buzz and the need to provide a solid background for the other performers keeps you focused on and off stage."

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