Dave Wakeling of General Public Profile & FLEXTEND® Testimonial
from working-class Birmingham, England. The (English)
Beat entered the music scene in 1979. The six
member band consisted of Dave Wakeling (vocals & guitar),
David Steele (bass), Andy Cox (guitar), Everett
Morton (drums), Saxa (saxophone) and Ranking
Roger (vocals). The band managed to fuse all
of their respective musical influences - soul,
reggae, pop and punk - into a unique sound that
was highly danceable. Along with contemporaries
such as The Specials, The Selecter and Madness,
The Beat became one of the most popular and influential
bands of the British Ska movement.
Over the course of the three albums, The Beat acheived great success
in their home country, charting several singles into the top 10. Although
the band was never able to duplicate their UK chart success in America,
they did find a solid base of young fans eager to dance to the band's
hypnotic rhythms. Their constant touring with bands such as The Clash
and The Police helped to boost their popularity. In 1983, after the release
of their third album, "Special Beat Service", the band broke up due to
It was at that point that Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger recuited Stoker
(drums) and Mickey Billingham (keyboards) of Dexy's Midnight Runners
and Horace Panter (bass) of The Specials and formed General Public. Their
first album "...All The Rage" included a guest appearance by former Clash
guitarist Mick Jones. After the fantastic success of "...All The Rage",
the band spent two years writing and recording their follow-up. Although "Hand
to Mouth" did not fare as well as the first album, it did spawn two singles, "Too
Much or Nothing" and "Come Again".
While Dave and Rodger were working on their second album, David Steele
and Andy Cox were busy trying to put a new band together. Having trouble
finding a lead singer, Andy and David went so far as to place an ad on
MTV. Although they received over 300 tapes from all over America, ultimately
it was Roland Gift, the lead singer from a band called The Acrylics who
opened a few gigs for The Beat in 1978, who got the job. With Roland
now in the band, The Fine Young Cannibals was formed. From the release
of their first single, Fine Young Cannibals received critical raves and
outstanding success. Their second album "The Raw and The Cooked", with
singles such as "She Drives Me Crazy" and "Good Thing", achieved multi-platinum
success in several countries. The band managed to stay busy between records
with Andy and David producing several records and Roland appearing in
films ("Sammie And Rosie Get Laid", "Scandal") and plays.
After the second General Public Album, Dave and Roger went different
directions to follow their own musical beliefs. Roger put out one solo
record titled "Radical Departure". This album signified a departure from
the traditional pop sound of General Public and a return to the reggae
and punk roots of The Beat.
For his part, Dave Wakeling went on to record the title track for the
John Hughes film "She's Having a Baby". After that he recorded his first
solo record. The album, titled "No Warning", maintained the pop sensebilitites
for which General Public had been known.
While the other ex-members of The Beat were busy with their various projects,
Saxa and Everett Morton were busy putting together their own band. Known
as International Beat, the band blends 90's pop with ska rhythms to form
a hybrid quasi-Beat sound. They have released one album titled "The Hitting
After the release of his solo album, Ranking Roger teamed up with some
old friends from the heyday of the Ska scene and formed a band called
Special Beat. The band included Neville Staples on vocals (The Specials,
Fun Boy 3), Brad on drums (The Specials), Horace Panter on bass (The
Specials, General Public) and Graeme Hamilton on trumpet (Fine Young
Cannibals) to name but a few. Special Beat has toured the UK and U.S.
but, at this point, has not released a record.
The Beat goes on...