R.I.P. Everett Morton, Drummer of UK Ska Band The Beat Dead at 71

Morton was a co-founding member of the influential ska and two-tone band

Everett Morton of The Beat, photo via Twitter
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Everett Morton, co-founding member and drummer of influential UK ska band The Beat, has died at the age of 71.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Everett Morton, a beautiful and talented man,” The Beat’s official Twitter account wrote in a tweet posted on Saturday. “His family are naturally grieving. Please respect their privacy. RIP Gaffah.” A cause of death was not disclosed.

Originally from the West Indies, Morton emigrated to the Birmingham, UK, and in 1978 formed The Beat alongside vocalist Dave Wakeling, guitarist, Andy Cox, and bassist David Steele. Soon after, the band’s lineup was rounded out with the additions of vocalist/toaster Ranking Roger and saxophonist Saxa.

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At the forefront of the UK ska revival in the late 1970s, The Beat hit the top 10 with their debut single, a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown.” The band’s debut album, 1980’s I Just Can’t Stop It, went gold in the UK and gave The Beat two more top 10 singles with “Hands Off…She’s Mine” and “Mirror in the Bathroom.”

The Beat’s early success led to opportunities to open on tour for the likes of David Bowie, The Clash, The Police, Pretenders, R.E.M., The Specials, and Talking Heads. However, the band’s existence proved short-lived, as following the release of their third album in 1983, The Beat broke up.

Morton and Saxa proceeded to form The International Beat, while Wakeling and Ranking Roger joined forces in General Public. However, after General Public themselves split in the late ’90s, Ranking Roger reunited with Morton and the other original members of The Beat. Wakeling, meanwhile, formed his own version of the band called The English Beat. The Ranking Roger-led version of The Beat remained an active touring unit and released several albums up until the vocalist’s death in 2019.

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