Fusing ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk, The Beat brought welcome themes of love, unity and sociopolitics to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, with a Jamaican flair, with Ranking Roger and Saxa teaming up for the band’s first single, “Tears of a Clown.”
The next Beat album, Wha'ppen, was supported by extensive touring, including a U.S. tour with the Pretenders and the Talking Heads. The band’s fan base grew from the U.K. to include Australia and North America, and they toured the world with everyone from David Bowie to the Clash, the Police, the Pretenders, R.E.M., the Specials and the Talking Heads.
Following their 1983 breakup, band members Dave Wakeling (guitar, vocals) and Roger (vocals) went on to form General Public, and Andy Cox (guitar) and David Steele (bass guitar) formed Fine Young Cannibals with vocalist Roland Gift. Everett Morton and Saxa formed The International Beat, fronted by Tony Beet. Ranking Roger briefly joined Mick Jones' post-Clash band Big Audio Dynamite, and performed at several live shows with the band. However, the band broke up shortly after he joined when its last album was shelved by the record company. Meanwhile, “March of the Swivelheads,” an instrumental version of the Beat's song “Rotating Head,” was used in the climactic chase scene of 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off; the band was listed in the end credits as “The (English) Beat.”
In the early 1990s, Roger joined members of the Specials to form the new band, Special Beat, which toured and released two live albums. They supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and participated in the collaborative recording “Nelson Mandela.”
In the 1990s, Roger recorded his solo début, a reggae-oriented album entitled Radical Departure. In 2001, Roger released another solo album, Inside My Head, which included traditional reggae and ska with influences of electronica, jungle, and dub.
Ranking Roger's son, Ranking Junior, has followed in his father's footsteps. In 2005, he appeared on The Ordinary Boys' single “Boys Will Be Boys” and is a current member of The Beat in the UK.
The Beat play at the Sheridan Opera House Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30. General admission tickets cost $20.