Hailing from working-class Birmingham, England, Dave Wakeling and The English Beat entered the music scene in the troubled times of 1979. When The English Beat rushed on to the music scene it was a time of social, political, and musical upheaval. Into this storm came they came, trying to calm the waters with their simple message of love and unity set to a great dance beat.
The six member band consisted of singer/songwriter Dave Wakeling (vocals and guitar), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), Everett Morton (drums), Saxa (saxophone), and Ranking Roger (toasting). 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 English Beat became one of the most popular and influential bands of the British two tone ska movement.
Over the course of three albums, The English Beat achieved great success in their home country, charting several singles into the Top 10. In addition to their UK chart success, in America the band found a solid base of young fans eager to dance to their hypnotic rhythms and absorb their message of peace, love, and unity. Their constant touring with iconic bands such as The Clash and The Police helped to boost their popularity in the states.
Despite his huge success, Wakeling didn’t stop singing and acting on the problems caused by what he called the “noise in this world.” The band donated all the profits from their highly successful single version of “Stand Down Margaret” to the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament. They donated their music to causes including the anti-nuclear benefit album Life in The European Theatre (1982) and The World of Music and Dance album focusing on indigenous people’s art, and lent their voice to The Special AKA’s anthem song of freedom “Free Nelson Mandela,” to name but a few.
Wakeling once said that every great band only has three really good albums. And true to form, The English Beat disbanded in 1983, after their third album, Special Beat Service (1982).
After The English Beat, Wakeling formed General Public with his mate Ranking Roger. The band took off quickly, scoring numerous hits off the their three studio albums, including “Tenderness,” “So Hot You’re Cool,” “Never You Done That,” “Come Again,” “Too Much or Nothing,” and “I’ll Take You There.” While Wakeling was penning hits stateside, Andy Cox and David Steele were putting their own band together. Cox and Steele placed an ad for a singer on MTV, and received an extraordinary gift in the form of one Roland Gift. With Gift onboard, the Fine Young Cannibals was formed and right from the release of their first single “Johnny Come Home,” the band was a hit. Their two studio albums scored multiple hit singles, with tunes such as “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing” becoming instant classics. Not being slackers either, Saxa and Everett Morton put together their own band, International Beat, blending modern pop with traditional Jamaican rhythms to form a wonderful hybrid sound. International Beat toured around the world and released two live albums, including cameos from Wakeling and Ranking Roger.
These bands combined scored multi-platinum record sales, sold-out shows all over the world, and most importantly, earned universal fan approval because they kept The Beat alive.
That ember was nursed back into a roaring flame in February 2003, when a dream came true for many fans of The English Beat as the band reunited for a UK tour, culminating in a sold-out command performance at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall.
Consummate showman that he is, Wakeling has continued to keep The Beat alive and strong. How could he not? Wakeling continues to tour the world as The English Beat with an amazing all-star ska backing band playing all the hits of The Beat, General Public, and his new songs.
Biography provided by artist management.