As part of our Annual Report we want to pay tribute to, and celebrate, our founding patron Terry Hall, who sadly died on 18 December 2022.
As iconic frontman to The Specials, Terry was the voice of a generation with their social commentary about injustice, unemployment, economic recession, racism and violence. He went on to form Fun Boy Three and the Colourfield, and led numerous other creative projects.
Terry was a brilliant songwriter and a lyrical genius with a beautiful, unique voice. He had an eclectic taste in music and was an inspiration to so many musicians who collaborated with him including Damon Albarn, Tricky, Dave Stewart, Craig Gannon and, of course, his close friend Ian Broudie. When Sinéad O’Connor was starting out, Terry invited her to record ‘Monkey in Winter’ with the Colourfield before reuniting with her years later for a beautiful cover version of Dana’s ‘All Kinds of Everything’.
Terry was passionate about mental health and often shared his own experiences through conversations, interviews and his lyrics. He wrote ‘Well Fancy That’, a track he recorded with Fun Boy Three, about having been sexually abused in childhood saying this was the only way he could deal with the experience and that this helped him to communicate his feelings. Terry often spoke about the role that therapy, medication and art played in his mental health and recovery.
Terry first got involved with Tonic in 2013 when he agreed to be our founding Patron, and then played a DJ set and sang with Dub Pistols at one of our festivals, Tonic 2. He was the perfect match for an organisation promoting recovery through music and art and liked our relaxed, friendly, fun and inclusive approach - the start of a beautiful relationship.
In 2016, Terry invited us to tour with The Specials and have information stands to promote awareness. Terry’s openness about his own mental health issues encouraged others, from venue staff to band members to the audience, to share their stories with us. It was a truly humbling experience that forged a strong, long term bond between Tonic and The Specials, their crew and their fans. Our ‘Never Mind the Stigma’ programme was born and we continue to attend gigs and festivals to reach out and start conversations promoting mental health awareness.
Terry with TONIC Founder and CEO Steph Langan (Centre) and Tonic Rider's Jeordie Shenton.
Terry helped give us a platform in the music industry. He was an early advocate of our Tonic Rider programme and championed our support for musicians and everyone working in live music. Terry introduced us to many other artists, some of whom are now valued friends and supporters of Tonic. In particular, Barry Ashworth of Dub Pistols who became a Patron alongside him and, most notably over the past two years, The Libertines who have done a tremendous amount of work to support us. Terry played a major role in Tonic’s journey from a small, local non-profit organisation to a national charity that now provides specialist support for people in the music industry.
TONIC volunteer Jan Langan with Terry.
Terry is greatly missed; he was kind, humble, modest, charismatic, influential and extremely generous. He had a natural ability to put you at ease and was absolutely hilarious with the quickest, driest wit. Terry had exceptional taste and will always be the epitome of cool.
The outpouring of love for Terry when he died, from both fans and those in the music industry alike, articulates more than we can about how much the man and his music meant to people.
We are so grateful to Terry for having believed in Tonic from the start, for shining a spotlight on us and having been a part of our incredible journey.
On the first anniversary after his passing, our thoughts are with Terry’s family and friends.
“Love, love, love”.
TONIC Trustee Vicki Barwood with Terry. Vicki wrote a previous article for TONIC that you can still read called 'Terry, Tonic and Me'.