The Specials' Lynval Golding

Marking his 47th birthday today is Lynval Golding, guitarist/vocalist for

ska godfathers the Specials, who began the two-tone movement in Britain in the

late '70s. Golding, keyboardist Jerry Dammers and bassist "Sir" Horace

"Gentleman" Panter first came together in 1977 as the punk-reggae band the Coventry

Automatics. A short time later, they switched to ska music and

added vocalist Terry Hall, percussionist/singer Neville Staples, lead

guitarist Roddy "Radiation" Byers and drummer John Bradbury. This lineup

went under the name the Automatics, until another band with the same name

made them change it to the Specials.

The Specials recorded a few singles on their own label, including

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Specials/Rudi,_A_Message_To_You.ram">"A

Message To You, Rudy" (RealAudio excerpt) (a reissued version of

which later became a U.K. top-10 hit), before Chrysalis Records released the

Specials' Elvis Costello-produced eponymous debut album in 1979. The album

was a success and the Specials followed it with a #1 EP, which featured the

popular "Too Much Too Young" (1980), as well as the singles "Rat Race" and

"Stereotypes."

The band's second LP, 1980's More Specials, went top

5. The Specials and their label, the Chrysalis-subsidiary 2-Tone, were the

subjects of the 1981 film "Dance Craze," which spotlighted ska's popularity.

After a #1 single, 1981's

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Specials/Ghost_Town.ram">"Ghost Town"

(RealAudio excerpt), Golding, Staples and Hall left the

Specials at the height of their popularity (reportedly because of musical

disagreements with Dammers) to form Fun Boy Three. The remainder of the group

eventually disbanded as well, after a spell as the Special AKA, under

Dammers' leadership.

Fun Boy Three's first U.K. chart appearance was with "The Lunatics (Have

Taken Over The Asylum)" (1981). They teamed with pop group Bananarama for

covers of the '30s standard "It Ain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do

It)" and the Marvelettes' "Really Saying Something." Both songs made the

U.K. top 10 in 1982.

Fun Boy Three's self-titled 1982 debut album was

well-received. Next came Waiting (1983), produced by Talking Heads'

David Byrne, which featured political lyrics set to the beat of booming

drums and stirring strings. The single "The More I See (The Less I

Believe)" was about the problems in Northern Ireland. The band also had

hits with "Tunnel of Love" and "Our Lips Are Sealed," a song written with

Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin.

Tension caused by the trio's lack of

success in America resulted in the group's breakup in 1983. Golding and Staples formed

the short-lived Sunday Best. In 1995, to help pay for a home studio,

Golding re-formed the Specials without Dammers and Hall. The next year,

they released Today's Specials. Golding has recently worked with

many newer ska outfits, including punksters Rancid. This year, the

Specials released Guilty 'Til Proved Innocent.

Golding recently said of the Specials' fans: "I don't call them fans -- I

call them friends. They're part of the family. We drink with them. We talk

with them. They're part of our band. That's what ska and punk

is all about."

Other birthdays: Barbara Love (Friends of Distinction), 57; Heinz Burt (Tornados), 56;

and Paul Geary (Extreme), 37.