Jerry Dammers: The Specials Reunion Is "A Takeover, Rather Than A Proper Reunion"
Published Dec 10, 2008Jerry Dammers has come out swinging with scathing allegations that the Specials reunion is "a takeover, rather than a proper reunion," claiming he's been kicked out of the band and barred from all reunion activities.
As previously reported, the influential ska outfit have announced they will play a string of 2009 UK tour dates to celebrate the group's 30th anniversary, and with all the original members attached minus Dammers, the group's founder, main songwriter and "driving force." Despite the tour being billed as a full reunion, in a new statement Dammers says he "was not invited to take part in this proposed tour, or even told about it," dismissing recent claims by former band-mate Terry Hall that the "door remains open" to him.
Dammers goes on to say that he was not opposed to the reunion but "has been driven out every time he has attempted to get involved over the last year," adding that the tour in no way has his blessing.
Since this all seems to be a legally sensitive topic, we're just going to step aside now and let Dammers do all the talking. Here's the lengthy and very detailed statement in full [via The Quietus] sent on Dammers' behalf:
A recent press release concerning a proposed tour by what has been described as 'the Specials' failed to clarify the actual line-up of the band. Not surprisingly therefore, many people are under the impression it is the original Specials. As was common knowledge at the time of their success, Jerry Dammers was the founder, main songwriter and driving force of the Specials. He recruited every member individually, and the musical and style direction was guided by him. He designed the 2 Tone logo and formed the 2 Tone record label.
Jerry has a duty to inform anybody who may be interested of the true situation, which is that he was not invited to take part in this proposed tour, or even told about it. He also has to say that claims that "the door is still open" to him fail to mention that Jerry has been driven out every time he has attempted to get involved over the last year. He also wonders why this appears in the newspaper when former band-mates have his phone number. "The prodigal sons came home, kicked me out, and have left the door open, great" says Jerry. These claims also contradict lawyers' letters stating that former members have resolved to go ahead without him, and that Jerry is not to speak to any of them. Attempts to imply that any proposed tour has Jerry's "blessing" at this stage are also highly misleading. These seem to be part of a wider attempt to rewrite the whole history of the band in order to try and justify what is currently going on.
Jerry does not wish to go into too much detail at this point, except to say that for over 25 years he had dreamed that his former band-mates might come back one day, and was deeply shocked to find that when they did, for some of them, it was apparently to kick him out. Jerry had already started recording with a couple of them and the results were good. However, [band-mate] Roddy Radiation started a campaign of verbal abuse against Jerry on the internet under the assumed name of Jett Rink, and progress was halted. Millionaire Simon Jordan has confirmed in the Sun (December 8) that he helped put this latest proposed band together. Jordan first teamed up with Terry Hall and his manager then Lynval Golding. (Hall and Golding both played at Jordan's 40th birthday party.) It has to be remembered that previously Terry Hall had for years attempted to distance himself from the Specials (and its politics) and even once described the band as an 'embarrassment' to him.
A meeting was called to which Jerry was not invited. Jerry turned up anyway and played the music he had started recording, and suggested starting serious rehearsals, but was subjected to a severe dressing down from people who had barely spoken to him in 25 years. Apart from the recording, Jerry wanted to try and aim for a proper reunion and thirtieth anniversary celebration, including the best part of both Specials albums, the Ghost Town EP and a small amount of new material, in proper concerts, in venues worthy of the band's status and legacy. Jerry said he thought this would involve a fair amount of rehearsal (for himself as much as everyone else obviously), but some former members did not seem to think this was necessary, and it certainly did not feel like Jerry was going to get any thanks if he tried to make any musical suggestions. Jerry has heard that former members currently "want to play mainly the first album," he doesn't know if this is true, but it is definitely easier to sing and play.
Shortly after this meeting, Lynval Golding told Jerry on the phone that his services would not be required, "like Bill Wyman in the Stones," said Lynval. Jerry persevered for over a year but every conceivable obstacle was put in the way of him either attending or organising reasonable rehearsals. Secret rehearsals were held without him, and his own attempts were sabotaged. For about six months Terry would not even attend any rehearsal unless Jerry agreed in advance to a tour organised by Terry's manager. Lynval and Horace were also managed by Terry's manager by this time. Jerry was expected apparently to agree to other absurd proposals from Terry's manager including for example rerecording the entire first two Specials albums all over again. Roddy Radiation's claim on the internet that Jerry wanted to do "slowed down jazz versions of Specials songs" is a complete lie.
Jerry sees this whole thing as a takeover, rather than a proper reunion, representing primarily Terry Hall and his manager's (not to mention Simon Jordan's) ideas of what 'The Specials' should be and do. Press claims that this proposed band is now "led by Terry Hall" seem to back this up. Jerry does not believe it represents what the real Specials stood for, politically, or in terms of creativity, imagination or forwardness of ideas, and he does not think the proposed venues would really be appropriate to a band of the status of the real Specials. He thinks the real test will come if or when another album is ever made. At the moment this is not the proud reunion and thirtieth anniversary celebration Jerry had hoped for.
Although a lot of the responsibility lies with Terry's manager (who now apparently manages the whole project), these are grown men too, and they are more than responsible for the actions of their manager. Neville Staples is the only former member who demonstrated real commitment to Jerry's involvement.
The Specials "Do Nothing"