Birmingham's leading music stars and fans have been paying tribute to Ranking Roger , who has died aged 56.

In January this year, it was revealed that Roger had suffered a stroke over the summer and was diagnosed with two brain tumours and lung cancer.

His death was announced on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

As a singer and frontman for The Beat, Roger Charlery was at the heart of a Brummie band of post-punk ska revivalists who enjoyed five top ten singles and two top five albums in the heyday of 2-Tone.

In a city not known for blowing its own trumpet in recognition of its incredibly successful and diverse music history, stars and fans alike were today quick to praise the contribution of the toolsetter's son who toured with David Bowie, Talking Heads, the Clash, the Police and the Pretenders.

And whose hits included Mirror in the Bathroom and Too Nice to Talk To.

September 1, 2016: Ranking Roger talking to the mirror in the bathroom - inside the gents at The Button Factory in the Jewellery Quarter
September 1, 2016: Ranking Roger talking to the mirror in the bathroom - inside the gents upstairs at The Button Factory in the Jewellery Quarter

After The Beat's main period of success, Roger and Wakeling formed General Public whose other early members includes Dexys Midnight Runners (Mickey Billingham and Andy Growcott), the Specials (Horace Panter) and the Clash (Mick Jones).

Following a split between Roger and David Wakeling, the pair established separate bands and Roger also recorded a No 15 hit with pato Banton called Bubbling Hot.

Born to toolsetter Jean-Baptiste and his wife Anne Marie, who had both emigrated to Britain from the Caribbean, Roger toured the UK and Europe with a Beat revival band that included daughter Saffren on vocals and son Matthew as toaster, while Wakeling concentrated on the US with The English Beat.

 
Ranking Roger with the round recording studio he commissioned for his back garden.
Ranking Roger with the round recording studio he commissioned for his back garden.

In 2016, Roger sent us a picture of a new round recording studio he had had commissioned for his back garden.

At the time he was coming back with a fourth studio album for The Beat feat Ranking Roger - 30 years after the last one by The Beat.

Former band member Dave Wakeling, now with The English Beat, also went on to release a 'fourth Beat' album on February 14, 2017 called Here We Go With Love.

Roger said the pod had given him his mojo back.

 
Ranking Roger's 2016 publicity picture
Ranking Roger's 2016 publicity picture

"I call it The Pod and the way the light floods in it’s a really relaxing, spacious place to work,” he told me.

“It was handmade by a craftsman from Yorkshire.”

Roger, who played bass, drums and keyboards, joined me for a pint at The Button Factory in the Jewellery Quarter. Newly opened, he hadn't been to the pub before and thought it was amazing.

“Me and Dave always got on and to have two Beat LPs this year will be good," he said.

“I have been doing this for 15 years and have built up a reputation and fans know my band as The Beat.

 
Ranking Roger, then 53, photographed in the Jewellery Quarter at The Button Factory, an old building recently given a new lease of life. He loved it.
Ranking Roger, then 53, photographed in the Jewellery Quarter at The Button Factory, an old building recently given a new lease of life. He loved it.

“They are different Beats, but we’re both happy doing it.

“We are not going to fight each other, we both deserve (success).

“We had a good accountant when I was young and he wouldn’t let me spend my money on silly things.

“We all got equal shares when we split and have done all right. 

“When we started it was my dream to put reggae and punk together and we did it (from 1979-83)."

 
Ranking Roger in the main upstairs room of The Button Factory
Ranking Roger in the main upstairs room of The Button Factory

Roger said he would never forget the last gig he played with Dave Wakeling – because they were supporting David Bowie at the Milton Keynes Bowl from July 1-3, 1983 on his Serious Moonlight tour.

“Bowie loved us so much he watched us – he was such a down to earth person,” Roger recalled.

“He was such a fan and we didn’t realise, but even though we brought the house down we knew it was the last gig.

“Splitting up wasn’t a black and white thing, it was a personality thing.

“We just didn’t see at the same eye level and now we know there’s no need to have a go at each other because people love both bands."

Dare to be different

Roger told me that the secret to being a star was to be different.

“When I was at Abbey Road, Paul McCartney recognised me before I recognised him," he said.

“You find in our business that divas don’t last long.

“On his last album, Bowie still sounds like he had the voice, but it’s sad when you start to see your heroes pass."

Dave Wakeling's @TheEnglishBeat tweeted: "This is difficult. Words cannot express our sadness at the loss of our friend & brother.

"A loss to the world and to music certainly, but most keenly felt by those who loved him best.

"Deepest condolences to his family and to our Beat family worldwide."

 
UB40 founder member and saxophonist Brian Travers is also fighting two brain tumours
Food for Thought: UB40 founder member and saxophonist Brian Travers is also fighting two brain tumours

Earlier this week it was revealed that UB40 founder member and sax player Brian Travers would miss the band's 40th anniversary tour because of treatment for two brain tumours.

Leading today's wider tributes to Ranking Roger, UB40 star Robin Campbell said: "So, so sad to hear that Ranking Roger has finally lost his battle with cancer.

"He was a lovely man, a friend and fan of UB40 who joined us on stage as our 1st toaster/mc in the early days.

"So glad he was with family and went peacefully. It was a privilege to know you. R.I.P."

@UB40Official tweeted from the band's main account: “R.I.P Ranking Roger. Big Love, UB40.”

Ali Campbell, now touring UB40 songs separately as UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro, tweeted: "Rest in peace Ranking Roger. Big Love and condolences to The Beat family."

 
Ranking Roger of The Beat in a 2014 publicity picture
Ranking Roger of The Beat in a 2014 publicity picture

Former BBC WM breakfast host and music fan Adrian Goldberg went on to BBC Radio 5 Live to pay tribute to a man whose contribution he knew well.

Adrian tweeted: "I knew he'd been ill recently but never expected this. The Beat were a terrific band in a golden era for West Midlands music - and his toasting was a key part of it. RIP."

Britpop stars Ocean Colour Scene, who enjoyed massive success with their Moseley Shoals album, tweeted: "We are all very sorry to hear about the passing of Ranking Roger from The Beat. RIP Roger x."

Leading music journalist and city event organiser Lyle Bignon said: "The passing of a musical hero + artist whose music has been around me from the get-go. 

"Far more important than our own melancholy is a need to celebrate Roger's life, legacy + hugely positive impact on many people's lives. He was a real don."

Roger went to Archbishop Williams School in Tile Cross where record-swapping saw his influences range from the mods to The Jam and The Sex Pistols.

His first gig was at The Crown pub on Station Street in 1978-79 - the very same venue where Black Sabbath had launched a decade earlier on the same stage.

Jez Collins overlooking The Crown
Jez Collins overlooking The Crown

Jez Collins, founder of the online Birmingham Music Archive has been campaigning to have The Crown turned into a rock heritage museum.

"The Beat had so much energy on stage," Jez tweeted.

"Very sad but a great musical legacy and a fantastic last album as well.

"Used to love seeing (Roger) roller blading around Cannon Hill.

"He was a neighbour here in Bearwood in the Black Country.

"I’d often bump into him and we’d have a catch up.

"He was always, always a beautifully warm and genuine person. So lovely...

Ranking Roger in The Button Factory
Ranking Roger in The Button Factory

"He was one of the few original black punks and worked in the punk bars in Birmingham and was part of the Dum Dum Boys.

"He then used to jump up on stage and grab the mic at punk gigs and toast. He was so popular he ended up joining The Beat and the rest is history.

"(Roger) will be sorely missed as a great musician, helping take Two-Tone to a global audience but he should also be remembered as a great human being."

Who is this famous Birmingham pop star releasing his first new album for 30 years?
Ranking Roger hiding behind his own hair at The Button Factory on September 1, 2016 to playfully suggest: 'Who is this famous Birmingham pop star releasing his first new album for 30 years'

DJ and PR Maryam Snape said: "He was a force of nature and always absolutely lovely to everyone! Love The Beat & the latest album was genuinely ace!"

Comedian Lenny Henry also paid tribute on Twitter: “Way too young. What a great bloke. Appeared on Tiswas and OTT with The Beat. Lovely, lovely man. What a shame. Love and unity is the only way…”

Lynnette Kelly @lynnettekelly - a Coventry councillor and the Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands - tweeted: "So sorry we have lost Roger.

"Met him many times and saw him perform many times. Lovely man and committed to fighting racism."

Warwick Arts Centre posted: "We're very sorry to hear about the passing of Roger who has been such a delight to have here at Warwick Arts Centre, and would like to thank everyone for sharing their wonderful memories of him and his talent."

 
Everett Morton (The Beat), Aitch Bembridge (Selecter/Specials), Ranking Roger (The Beat) and Paul Heskett (The Swinging Cats) with the fifth 2-Tone plaque at Coventry Libraryin July, 2009
July24, 2009: Everett Morton (The Beat), Aitch Bembridge (Selecter/Specials), Ranking Roger (The Beat) and Paul Heskett (The Swinging Cats) with the fifth 2-Tone plaque at Coventry Library

Andrew Hindle, NHS Commissioner for integration, older people & end of life care, tweeted: "RIP Ranking Roger. I remember him as one of the few black punks in Bham and a storming gig The Beat Top Rank in 1979."

Historian Dr Cathy Hunt posted: "Rest in peace Roger, our enormous thanks for your great music," while Moseley Record Fair said: "R.I.P. Ranking Roger - we've lost one of our Top Ranking Brummies x."

BBC Introducing in the West Midlands said: "Everyone on the team here has been greatly saddened by the passing of Roger - a trailblazer for the music community in the West Midlands. The Beat regularly feature as an influence for many new artists uploading and they will continue to do so. Rest in Peace Roger."

 
The Beat's Ranking Roger orders a drink at The Button Factory
The Beat's Ranking Roger orders a drink at The Button Factory

U2 fan Aaaron Govern added: "I got to see The Beat play live, but my abiding memory of Roger is bumping into him in Birmingham, he was on roller skates, he nodded his head at me whilst travelling at some speed."

Coleshill based former schoolfriend Ian Marley said: "Was in the same form class as Rankin and had a drink or 2 with him around Brum. Couldn't wish to meet a nicer chap, always had time for people. RIP Roger."

HMV Birmingham said: "We are saddened to hear of the passing of Birmingham born singer of Ska legends The Beat Ranking Roger. RIP Roger."

Walsall based music lover Mike Huckfield said: "I can’t believe it about Ranking Roger. I saw The Beat several times over the past 10 years, and the energy he displayed every time was incredible. I’m just shocked."