Neville Eugenton Staple (born 11 April 1955) is an English singer for the two-tone ska band, The Specials as well as his own combo, The Neville Staple Band. Along with Ranking Roger, he also sings in Special Beat.
Staple was born in Manchester, Jamaica. At the age of five, Neville left Jamaica to live in the English town of Rugby, Warwickshire 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 initially joined as their roadie but at a gig supporting The Clash, Neville took 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. 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. Later in his solo career and with the reunited Specials, he would sing 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. John Bradbury would later take 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 health concerns.
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 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.
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.
Neville worked for many years in the US with various bands and also with The Hitmen, including providing a soundtrack for the movie, 'Vampires Anonymous' and extensive touring.
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) of Bollywood music fame, after managing and producing for him early on.
He has a daughter Sheena Staple, who lived in the U.S., and who worked on a solo album, and a son Darren Simms, who is the lead singer in various U.S. reggae / rock bands including "DreadStarr" and is a male model and motorbike racing champion.
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 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 co-written with his wife Christine, 'The Talks' and Flipron as well as tracks with 'The Dub Pistols' (release 2014) and 'Duplex'.
Original Rude Boy:
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 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.