John Bradbury, the revered drummer known for his dedication to the Specials and influence within the 2 Tone ska movement of the late ’70s, died Monday in England, according to statements from his band and family. The news was first announced Tuesday via Twitter, but no cause of death was noted. He was 62. “It is with deep regret that we say goodbye to our great friend, the world’s greatest drummer, our beloved Brad,” tweeted the Specials, which also lost their trombonist Rico Rodriguez in September.
Bradbury’s family also released a longer statement, available below, via BBC:
It is with deepest regret that we have to announce the very sad news that our much loved husband and father John ‘Brad’ Bradbury passed away on Monday the 28 of December.
Brad’s drumming was the powerhouse behind The Specials and it was seen as a key part to the Two Tone sound. He was much respected in the world of drumming and his style of reggae and ska was seen as genuinely ground-breaking when The Specials first hit the charts in 1979.
He was an integral part of The Specials reforming in 2008 and toured with them extensively up to the present day. His contribution to the world of music can not be understated and he will much missed by family, friends and fans alike.
Bradbury joined the Coventry-based Specials in 1979, replacing the original drummer and staying with the crew until his death, throughout a handful of reformations and name changes. The original Specials were widely referred to as musical pioneers for their multiracial lineup and unique blend of ska and punk, the latter of which, the BBC notes, led to seven top-ten singles in the U.K., as well as a whole new subgenre. For his part, Bradbury also performed with J.B.’s Allstars, Special Beat (a mashed-up squad of the Specials and the English Beat), and, briefly, the Selecter.
In memoriam here’s one of the Specials’ earliest hits, “Gangsters,” which Bradbury co-penned: