Specials drummer John (Brad) Bradbury dies at 62

The Specials perform at Ives Concert Park at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, July 17, 2013 (WTNH / Jesse Gosselin)

LONDON (AP) — The family of Specials drummer John (Brad) Bradbury has announced that he has died at the age of 62. He was for many years an integral part of the band’s unique ska and reggae sound.

The family and the band announced his death Tuesday. A family statement said he died Monday but did not provide the cause of death. A representative for the band said he died in England.

“Brad’s drumming was the powerhouse behind The Specials and it was seen as a key part to the Two Tone sound,” the family statement said. “He was much respected in the world of drumming and his style of reggae and ska was seen as genuinely groundbreaking when The Specials first hit the charts in 1979.”

The Specials’ Twitter site said: “It is with deep regret that we say goodbye to our great friend, the world’s greatest drummer, our beloved Brad. RIP.”

Bradbury was born in Coventry, the band’s home base 95 miles (150 kilometers) northwest of London, and he joined in 1979 after the original drummer left. He was made a permanent member after playing at the recording session for the single “Gangsters.”

The band shot to popularity as part of the ska revival and found a wide following for political songs like “War Crimes” and “Free Nelson Mandela.”

Bradbury stayed with the band through a number of personnel changes until they disbanded in 1984, only to regroup for a 2009 reunion tour followed by other gigs.

He told the Guardian newspaper, “I’ve never had so much fun as I’ve been having since the Specials re-formed.”

Bradbury later likened playing onstage with the band to having a “ringside seat to the mayhem.”
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