The Beat (British band)

The Beat (known in the United States and Canada as the English Beat and in Australia as the British Beat) are a band founded in Birmingham, England, in 1978. Its music fuses Latin, ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock.

The Beat, consisting of Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), Everett Morton (drums), and Saxa a.k.a. Lionel Augustus Martin (saxophone), released three studio albums in the early 1980s: I Just Can't Stop It (1980), Wha'ppen? (1981) and Special Beat Service (1982), and a string of singles, including "Mirror in the Bathroom", "Save It for Later", "Too Nice to Talk To", "Can't Get Used to Losing You", "Hands Off, She's Mine", and "All Out to Get You".



The Beat was formed in Birmingham, England, in 1978, during a period of high unemployment and social upheaval in the United Kingdom. Ranking Roger, one of the band's vocalists, added a Jamaican vocal flavour to the band's sound with his toasting style. Jamaican saxophonist Saxa added a Jamaican ska instrumental sound. Saxa (born Lionel Augustus Martin in 1930) had played saxophone with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, and Desmond Dekker in the first wave of ska. He joined The Beat to record their first single, "Tears of a Clown", a cover version of the Motown hit by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

Notable singles from the first album included "Can't Get Used to Losing You", "Mirror In the Bathroom", "Hands Off She's Mine" and "Best Friend". The second Beat album, Wha'ppen? was supported by extensive touring, including a United States tour with the Pretenders and Talking Heads. The album yielded more UK hits, with "All Out to Get You", "Drowning" and "Doors of Your Heart", all of which broke into the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. The Beat received support from modern rock radio stations such as KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, the now-defunct KQAK The Quake 99FM (98.9) in San Francisco and KYYX in Seattle.

Although the Beat's main fan base was in the UK, the band was also popular in Australia, partly due to exposure on the radio station Triple J and the TV show Countdown. The Beat had a sizable following in the US and Canada, where the band were known as the English Beat for legal reasons (to avoid confusion with the American band the Beat). The Beat toured the world with well-known artists including David Bowie, the Clash, the Police, the Pretenders, R.E.M., the Specials and Talking Heads. Members of the band often collaborated on stage with the Specials.

During their early career, the band were associated with Birmingham-based cartoonist Hunt Emerson, who designed their 'Beat Girl' icon and painted the mural that was used on the cover of Wha'ppen?


After the break-up of the Beat in 1983, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger went on to form General Public and had a couple of hit singles in the US and Canada including "Tenderness", while Andy Cox and David Steele formed Fine Young Cannibals with vocalist Roland Gift from the ska band Akrylykz. Drummer Everett Morton and Saxa formed the International Beat along with the Birmingham-based singer, Tony Beet, and the band released an album titled The Hitting Line on Blue Beat Records in 1990 (BBSLP 009). The album was produced by Ranking Roger and he often guested with the band at some of their shows. The International Beat toured the UK and United States before calling it a day in 1992. Ranking Roger also briefly joined Mick Jones' post-Clash band Big Audio Dynamite and performed at several live shows with the band. However, the band broke up shortly after he joined when its last album was shelved by the record company. Meanwhile, "March of the Swivelheads", an instrumental version of the Beat's song "Rotating Heads", was used in the climactic chase scene of 1986's Ferris Bueller's Day Off; the band was listed in the end credits as "The (English) Beat". "Save It for Later" was featured on the soundtrack album to 1996's Kingpin, 2010's Hot Tub Time Machine and 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Everett Morton formed Beat Goes Bang and recruited vocalist Ross Lydon from 360, bass player Faisal Rashid, and Lukasz Machometa on sax, former member of Citybeats and Urban Groove Syndicate.

Roger released his solo debut, a reggae-oriented album entitled Radical Departure, in 1988. In the early 1990s, Roger joined members of the Specials to form Special Beat, which toured and released two live albums. They supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In 2001, Roger released another solo album, Inside My Head, which included traditional reggae and ska with influences of electronica, jungle and dub. Ranking Roger's son, Ranking Junior, has followed in his father's footsteps. In 2005, he appeared on The Ordinary Boys' single "Boys Will Be Boys" and is a current member of the Beat in the UK.

Pete Townshend performed the song "Save It for Later" numerous times between 1985 and 1998. The Who performed the song twice on their 1989 Reunion Tour.

The Wonder Stuff also played "Save It for Later" featuring Ranking Roger on their "From the Midlands with Love" series in June 2012

Pearl Jam also began playing "Save It for Later" in 1996 blending it into the end of "Better Man", and it remained in the set list of their 2014 tour.

21st century

In 2003, the Beat's original line-up, minus Cox and Steele, played a sold-out one-off gig at the Royal Festival Hall. In 2004, the VH1 show Bands Reunited tried unsuccessfully to reunite the original line-up.

In 2006, the UK version of the Beat, featuring Ranking Roger, recorded a new album that was mixed by Adrian Sherwood, but it remains unreleased. The band also featured Everett Morton and Mickey Billingham on keyboards, formerly a member of Dexys Midnight Runners and General Public.

Dave Wakeling fronts the US version of the group as the English Beat, which usually adds a couple of General Public songs to the setlist. The singer and his band flew over to the UK in April 2011, to perform at the London International Ska Festival at the Clapham Grand music venue. They played the Dorset Steam Fair Show 2011 on 31 August 2011.

Both the UK and US versions of the band still continue to tour frequently.

In mid-2012, the English Beat released a box set, titled The Complete Beat, comprising their three albums along with non-album singles, remixes and live material. Additional bonus tracks were included on re-released, double-CD versions of each studio album.

The English Beat recorded two new songs that feature prominently in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "Dance of the Undead" which aired 26 March 2013. It features a zombie ska group called Rude Boy and the Ska-Tastics who come back to life in order to turn people into zombies and make them dance to ska music forever. According to an interview Dave Wakeling conducted with the San Francisco Examiner, he said: "This was my first opportunity to do anything for television as a gun for hire, and I actually managed to record and mix two songs in 12 hours. It was like running at double speed with no brakes, but it was exciting, and Warner Bros. really loved them. So the zombies have a song called ‘You’re Dead Right, Mate,’ and the Hex Girls have one called ‘We’re the Good Bad Girls,’ which has a definite Ramones-Runaways vibe to it, but frankly, I'm really happy I did it, because I’ve always loved ‘Scooby-Doo."

In late 2013, the Beat with Ranking Roger released the live album, Live In London which featured a new song entitled "How Do You Do (Side To Side)" and also a song previously released solo by Ranking Roger, entitled "Dangerous", among many other songs.

In mid-2014, the English Beat starring Dave Wakeling announced a new studio album entitled Here We Go Love!. The album, which will be released in 2018 is being funded through the PledgeMusic website, in which fans donate to the group.

The Beat feat. Ranking Roger released Bounce, a studio album, on 30 September 2016, on CD, Vinyl and Digital on DMF Records. The first single from the album, 'Walking on the Wrong Side' was released in July 2016.

In 2018 the Beat feat. Ranking Roger released The Beat - Live At The Roundhouse a live album with accompanying DVD

On 26 January 2019 the Beat feat. Ranking Roger released a new studio album, Public Confidential. The first single from the album 'Maniac' was playlisted on BBC Radio 6.

Weeks after undergoing surgery for two brain tumours, and while undergoing treatment for lung cancer, Ranking Roger died at home on 26 March 2019, aged 56.


The Beat (UK) / the English Beat (US)

  • Andy Cox - guitar (1978-1983)
  • Everett Morton - drums (1978-1983)
  • Ranking Roger - lead vocals, toaster (1978-1983)
  • Saxa - saxophone (1978-1983)
  • David Steele - bass (1978-1983)
  • Dave Wakeling - lead vocals, guitar (1978-1983)
  • Dave 'Blockhead' Wright - keyboards (1980-1983)
  • Wesley Magoogan - saxophone (1981-1983)

    The English Beat starring Dave Wakeling

  • Dave Wakeling - lead vocals, guitar
  • King Schascha - toasting
  • Nucci Cantrell - drums, vocals
  • Matt Morrish - sax, vocals
  • Kevin Lum - keys, vocals
  • Minh Quan - keys, vocals
  • Brad Engstrom - bass, vocals

    The Beat feat. Ranking Roger / the New English Beat feat. Ranking Roger

  • Ranking Roger - vocals, toasting
  • Ranking Junior - vocals, toasting
  • Fuzz Townshend - drums
  • Oscar Harrison - drums
  • Andy Pearson - bass
  • Andy Perriss - guitar
  • Bobby Bird - guitar
  • Mark 'Chiko' Hamilton - sax


    Studio albums

    The Beat / the English Beat

    The Beat Feat. Ranking Roger / the New English Beat feat. Ranking Roger

    The English Beat starring Dave Wakeling

    Live albums

    The English Beat

    The Beat with Ranking Roger

    Compilation albums


    Film and video

  • Dance Craze (1981 Independent Film – VHS) A compilation that contains live 1980 Beat footage among other Ska bands.
  • Video Collection (198x Channel 5 – VHS)
  • Live (198x unknown – VHS) 45 min live performance.
  • The Beat In Concert at the Royal Festival Hall (2005 [ MVD Visual] – DVD)

    Also released:
  • Can't Get Used to Losing You: Greatest Hits (1985 Channel 5, VHS)
  • The Special Beat released a DVD entitled Enjoy Yourself in 2004.
  • The soundtrack album to Dance Craze, entitled Dance Craze: The Best of British Ska... Live!
  • US EP, The English Beat, in 1989.


  • [ PUNKCAST#908] The English Beat @ Canal Room NYC on 13 January 2006. (RealPlayer, mp4)