The Specials' Drummer John Bradbury Dies at 62

Joby Sessions/Rhythm Magazine via Getty Images

Portrait of English musician John Bradbury, taken on Oct. 9, 2011. 

He played with the beloved 2 Tone ska band since 1979.

John Bradbury, who drummed for 2 Tone ska legends the Specials since 1979, passed away yesterday (Dec. 28). The band broke the news today, though no cause of death was given. Bradbury was 62.

“It is with deep regret that we say goodbye to our great friend, the world’s greatest drummer,” the Specials shared via Twitter. 



The Specials formed in Coventry, England in 1977, where Bradbury was born 24 years prior. He joined the band in 1979, the same year they released their acclaimed, Elvis Costello-produced self-titled debut album. Bradbury co-wrote several of its songs, including “It’s Up to You” and “Nite Klub.” Below, watch the Specials perform “Gangsters,” another track he helped pen.

The Specials’ “classic” lineup broke apart in 1981, though Bradbury remained with the band through various reincarnations up until the present day. This included a 2012 live album and live dates as recently as July 2015. 

Below is the band’s complete statement (via

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 28th 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. It is the families sincerest wish that they are allowed the time to remember him privately.

Admirers like Billy Bragg and Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos have shared their thoughts as well:





Bradbury’s death follows the passing of the Specials' trombonist, Rico Rodriguez, who died on Sept. 4, 2015


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