The Specials’ Horace Panter on Terry Hall’s final days and cause of death

The Specials’ Horace Panter has shared a statement on Facebook outlining the weeks leading up to bandmate Terry Hall’s death on December 18.

The Specials confirmed Hall’s passing yesterday (December 19), sharing that he had died following a “brief illness” at the age of 63, and remembering their frontman as “a beautiful friend, brother and one of the most brilliant singers, songwriters and lyricists this country has ever produced.”

In Panter’s statement, posted to Facebook earlier today (December 20), the bassist said he, Hall and Specials guitarist Lynval Golding had been planning to record a reggae album in Los Angeles in early November, with flights booked and studio time and accommodation arranged.

Terry had the framework for 8 tunes. Confidence was high. We were set to meet up with Nikolaj [Larsen, Specials keyboardist] and make magic. This was in September. Terry e-mails everyone and says he’s in bed with a stomach bug and can’t do the first week of pre-production sessions. No big deal, we can knock everything back a week. We’re not due to fly out until November 4th.”

The Specials’ Terry Hall. CREDIT: Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns

Panter goes on to say that the following week, Hall had not yet recovered, and was in hospital. On October 2, Panter received a phone call from the band’s manager, Steve Blackwell, informing him that Hall had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas that had spread to his liver.

“This is serious. Like life-threatening serious. He has developed diabetes due to his pancreas being attacked. This has to be treated first, then it’s a regimen of chemotherapy. There is nothing anyone can do. Everything is put on hold. Terry is emphatic that no-one is told about this. If anyone asks, he’s managing his diabetes,” Panter wrote.

“The chemo treatment starts favorably but it seems that it would be March 2023 at the earliest before we’d be in any position to work. He is in and out of hospital to stabilize the diabetes issue and also to manage pain. It then goes quiet.”

By early December, Hall had “lost weight” and was “very frail”. Panter writes that Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds visited Hall in hospital, and informed Blackwell that he was worried Hall was “slipping away”. On December 15, Blackwell drove up to London to visit Hall.

He calls me on his return journey and says things are not looking promising. Terry is dying,” Panter said. “The next day he is put on morphine and is more-or-less unconscious for most of the time. I thought it would be best for me to go and visit but Lindy, his wife, advises against it.

She has held her phone to Terry’s ear so that his sisters and Lynval can say their goodbyes. She suggests I do the same. So, I did. It was tough. Terry died around half past 5 the next evening, Sunday 18th December. The world has lost a unique voice and I have lost a good friend.” See Panter’s full post below:

The Specials. Terry. This is what happened. We had it all planned out. Make the album we were going to do in 2020 – a…

Posted by Horace Panter on Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Hall was born in Coventry in 1959, and joined the Specials as their vocalist shortly after the band’s formation in 1977. After departing the band in 1981 and rejoining in 2008, he remained active with the band into this year, with his last show taking place. as part of the Beautiful Days festival in Devon this August. The band’s last release with Hall was the compilation ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012’, which arrived in September 2021.

After news of his death emerged, tributes poured in for Hall. Among those who honored the legendary frontman was former Specials bandmate Neville Staple. “I was deeply saddened to hear about Terry Hall’s passing on Sunday,” Staple tweeted. We knew Terry had been unwell but didn’t realize how serious he was until recently. We had only just confirmed some 2023 joint music agreements together. This has hit me.”

Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn also paid tribute to Hall, sharing a video of himself playing a solo piano rendition of the Specials’ 1980 hit ‘Friday Night, Saturday Morning’. “Terry, you meant the world to me,” he wrote. “I love you.”

Others who have paid tribute to Hall since his passing include Sleaford Mods, Billy Bragg, The Libertines, New Order, Rowetta, Lol Tolhurst of The Cure and many more.

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