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Ranking Roger, English Beat founder and frontman, dead at 56

Ranking Roger, English Beat founder and frontman, dead at 56
Ranking Roger, left, and Ranking Junior perform with the Beat during the 80's Rewind Festival in England in 2010. (Geoffrey Swaine / REX/Shutterstock)

Roger Charlery, best known as Ranking Roger, lead singer of influential ska band the English Beat, has died at the age of 56.

The band said Charlery died Tuesday “peacefully at his home surrounded by family.” He suffered a stroke last year and had recently been diagnosed with two brain tumors and lung cancer.

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Formed in 1978, the Beat — rebranded the English Beat in North America — was a key player in Britain’s “two-tone” ska movement. The band’s early-1980s hits included “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Tears of a Clown” and “Stand Down Margaret,” a political anthem directed at then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Charlery later formed the band General Public and recorded and performed with Sting.

Sting said in an Instagram post Wednesday that Charlery had been part of “one of the most influential periods in the history of British pop music,” as Caribbean music and culture met “young white bands struggling to find an identity in Thatcher’s disunited kingdom.”

He said Charlery had been at the center of a “febrile and explosive clash of cultures, uniquely placed to document the excitement of those times.”

“Thank you, Roger,” Sting wrote. “You will be missed.”

Charlery was born Feb. 21, 1963, in Birmingham, England, to parents who were part of the so-called Windrush generation in the 1940s, when immigrants from the Caribbean began arriving in Britain.

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