[[caption-width-right:350:Rude Boys Outta Jail]]
->''This town (town) is coming like a ghost town,\\
All the clubs have been closed down.\\
This place (town) is coming like a ghost town,\\
Bands won't play no more, too much fighting on the dance floor.''
-->"Ghost Town"

[[Film/TheSpecials No relation to the film.]]

The band that would become the Specials was formed as the Coventry Automatics in 1977 in [[UsefulNotes/TheMidlands Coventry, England]]. Leading members of Britain's second-wave ska revival, their sound - popularly known as 2 Tone - was a combination of danceable {{Ska}} and energetic PunkRock, popular in Britain at the time. Their most recognised, seven man line-up consisted of Terry Hall (vocals), Neville Staple (vocals, toasting), Jerry Dammers (organ, main songwriter), Roddy Radiation (lead guitar), Lynval Golding (rhythm guitar), Horace Panter (bass guitar) and John Bradbury (drums). Horn players Rico Rodriguez (trombone) and Dick Cuthell (trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn) were included as honourary members during their late-seventies heyday.

Keyboard player Jerry Dammers was undoubtedly the driving force behind the band and perhaps even the entire 2 tone movement. As one of the founders of 2 Tone Records, Dammers provided a springboard for many aspiring ska groups thanks to the 2 Tone policy of contracting an artist for one single with no obligation to produce further records for the label. Bands who benefitted from these unconventional arrangements included {{Music/Madness}} and The Beat, both of whom released successful debut singles under the 2 Tone label before moving on to different companies.

Popular in their day, many of their lyrics were socially and politically conscious. Their number-one hits, ''Too Much Too Young'' and ''Ghost Town'' encouraged contraception and attacked the [[UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher Thatcher government]] for its role in creating unemployment respectively. Dammers was also strongly anti-racist and he wanted to use his music to promote racial harmony and attack the [[ThoseWackyNazis National Front]]. The music itself was generally standard ska fare, characterised by syncopated guitar chops, energetic hammond organ accompaniments and reasonably simple horn arrangements; trombone player Rico Rodriguez had played with several first wave ska artists in Jamaica before he moved to the UK. As front man, Terry Hall had a sarcastic, expressionless delivery which contrasted with the energetic, wacky toasting style of Neville Staple.

The band released two albums and seven consecutive top ten singles before breaking up in 1981 when Hall, Staple and Golding left to form a new group (Music/TheFunBoyThree), Roddy Radiation struck out on his own and Horace Panter decided to quit. Reverting back to the original name of the Special AKA, Dammers kept the band going long enough to make a third, less successful album (though the single "Nelson Mandela" was a hit), and the group had disappeared by the mid-1980s. After several attempts to get the band back together during TheNineties, the Specials reformed in 2009 with their original line-up and a new horn section, but Jerry Dammers himself was conspicuously absent.

Their drummer, John Bradbury, died at the age of 62 on December 28 of 2015. Three months earlier, Rico, the trombonist, had passed away.

Notable songs by the Specials include:

* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjONGEeOSyQ Gangsters]]''
* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B1MfQeRXz4 Too Much Too Young]]''
* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVcD1xAMTo8&feature=channel A Message to You, Rudy]]''
* ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ2oXzrnti4&feature=channel Ghost Town]]''

* TheBabyTrap: The song "Stupid Marriage" is about a young woman who does this to get a guy to marry her.
* TheBandMinusTheFace: Terry Hall was absent from the often-overlooked albums produced during TheNineties, but the trope was averted to an extent because Neville Staple is equally recognisable as front-man.
** And now the 2009 tour minus Dammers.
* ControlFreak: Some members of the band say Jerry Dammers behaved like this in TheSeventies, which is why he wasn't allowed to take part in the reunion. Dammers' side of the story characterises the band getting back together as more of a hostile takeover than a proper reunion.
* CoolOldGuy: They recruited the original 1960s Jamaican ska trombonist Rico Rodriguez to play with them, notably including the famous trombone part on "Ghost Town".
* CreativeDifferences: Hall, Staple and Golding left partly because they disliked the gloomy tone the songs were taking on after the second album was released. Roddy Radiation's departure was to a certain extent attributed to his feelings that Dammers didn't appreciate his own songwriting efforts.
* DateRape: The subject of "The Boiler", a collaboration between The Special AKA and Rhoda Dakar of the Bodysnatchers.
* DeadpanSnarker: Usually Terry Hall, who used this attribute to break up fights in the audience. Jerry Dammers exhibits this tendency as well in most of his lyrics.
* Music/ElvisCostello: Produced the first album and "Free Nelson Mandela".
* GhostTown: They wrote the song which provides the page quotation as a critique of the policies of UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher.
* GreatestHits: They released two albums, one EP and a non-album single under the original line up. Almost all of the fifteen Specials compilation albums includes songs drawn almost exclusively from these sources.
* LyricalDissonance: Practically a trademark. Good examples include "Hey Little Rich Girl", "Stupid Marriage" and "Little Bitch". There are many more, of course.
* ProtestSong: "Free Nelson Mandela" and "War Crimes", both released by Dammers after the original band broke up. The former is credited with making Nelson Mandela a ''cause celebre'' and is still a popular song in Africa.
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: "Why?" was written by Lynval Golding in response to a violent race-related assault that left him hospitalised.
* SelfTitledAlbum: The first two albums, ''Specials'' and ''More Specials''.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: Part of the reason the band broke up was because of disagreements between Jerry Dammers and Roddy Radiation, the two heaviest drinkers in the group. According to Neville Staple, most of the band used drugs at some point.
* SharpDressedMan: The mod-influenced tonic suits.
* {{Ska}}: A major force in the British second wave.
* SpecialGuest: {{Music/Madness}} saxophonist Lee Thompson contributed a solo on the ''More Specials'' album.
* StageNames: Horace Panter was credited as "Sir Horace Gentleman" on their first two albums and Roddy Byers preferred "Roddy Radiation".
* SurprisinglyGentleSong: "It Doesn't Make It Alright" from ''Specials'', which is a slow and peaceful song about [[BeYourself being yourself]], in contrast to much more energetic (and [[LyricalDissonance spiteful]]) tracks from the album.
* TheStoic: Terry Hall again, who never seemed to have any kind of facial expression and sometimes performed with his back to the audience.
* TakeThat: Most of what Jerry Dammers wrote was a Take That against somebody, be it UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher, the National Front, women in general or the band's own fans.
* TheVillainSucksSong: Their cover version of Music/BobDylan's "Maggie's Farm" was targeted squarely at UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher.
* YouSuck: The reason that the song "Stereotype" exists, and "Little Bitch" to a lesser extent.