Roger was 16 when he joined The Beat; the seminal 80’s multi racial, multi genre, Birmingham band. Being under age, he had to get his mum to sign his first record contract for him. The Beat was formed in 1979, with members Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals, toasting), Andy Cox (guitar), Everett Morton (drums), veteran Jamaican saxophonist Saxa, and David Steele (bass). The band experienced worldwide success and a string of hits over 3 albums during the early 80’s, before splitting to form General Public (Roger & Dave) and Fine Young Cannibals (Andy Cox & Dave Steele).
Roger continued to lead “The Beat” and toured throughout Europe, as well as working on his own solo projects, producing 3 new albums over the last few years:
“Retrospective”, released in 2013 - an album of solo work recorded over the 25 years since the break up of General Public, featuring various artists and producers including Sly & Robbie, and songs such as Bubbling Hot (the 1994 hit collaboration with Pato Banton) and a cover of The Bed’s Too Big Without You (first recorded with Sting for the 1996 film “The Truth About Cats & Dogs).
“Live in London”, also released in 2013 - a live recording of The Beat playing at 229 The Venue, featuring some of their greatest hits as well as new tracks by Roger and his son & co-vocalist with The Beat, Ranking Junior.
Roger was diagnosed with cancer at the end of 2018 but remained a creative force until the end - recently releasing a new album and putting the finishing touches to an autobiography whilst undergoing treatment.
Roger passed away on 26 March 2019.
“Pop Off The Head Top”, released in 2014, consisted of entirely new compositions including additional vocals and song writing from Ranking Junior. They recorded tracks for this project with Hugh Harris from London, Dopegrinders from Brighton and Mr Anonymous from Colorado. Other key tracks involved the Italian producer AleXannA whose version of “16 Tons” features vocals not only by Roger and Ranking Junior, but also by Roger’s daughter Saffren. The album was described as “a beguiling mix of chill, dance, drum & bass, rap and ska.”
“Rock The Casbah”, released in 2015 in collaboration with the charity Strummerville (founded by the friends and family of Joe Strummer to support aspiring musicians and projects that create social mobility through music). This 5 track EP featured a previously unheard version of Rock The Casbah, which Joe Strummer & Mick Jones of The Clash, had asked Roger to sing on back in 1981, re-recorded by the Brighton producers Dopegrinders, using the original stems which were kindly donated by Mick Jones. The EP also featured new tracks by Roger, Ranking Junior & Hugh Harris, as well as a re-working of Muscle Ska, co-composed by Roger & Neville Staple from The Specials.
In September 2016, DMF released a new album by The Beat featuring Ranking Roger. Bounce is the first Beat album to be released in 30 years and features songs written by Roger, his son Murphy and the eminent producer Mick Lister. Limited edition vinyl & CD copies are available for pre-order now via The Beat website or for digital download on iTunes.