Ranking Roger’s long-time manager has described the “great privilege” of working with the two-tone singer, real name Roger Charlery, who died on Tuesday aged 56.
Industry veteran Tarquin Gotch, who has managed acts including Simple Minds and Rowan Atkinson, described The Beat’s singer as a “wonderfully talented artist”.
Charlery suffered a stroke last year and was diagnosed with two brain tumours and lung cancer in recent months.
Gotch said: “We have lost a wonderfully talented artist and great friend. It has been an enormous honour and privilege for us all to have been a part of his life.”
Singer-songwriter Sting also paid tribute to Charlery, posting a lengthy statement to social media.
The former singer of The Police described the birth of Charlery’s band as an “explosive clash of cultures” prompted by Margaret Thatcher’s “disunited kingdom”.
Charlery and Sting recorded together a number of times and Charley joined Sting’s group on-stage during their 2007 world tour, singing Roxanne.
The star added: “My friend Roger, as a founding member of the English Beat was at the centre of this febrile and explosive clash of cultures, uniquely placed to document the excitement of those times, the heady joy of success, the political turmoil, the inherent racism at all levels of our society as well as the brotherly bond of musicians struggling to make themselves heard within it.
“Thank you, Roger. You will be missed.”
As part of The Beat, known in the US as The English Beat, Charlery spearheaded the two-tone movement with a distinctive vocal style influenced by the Jamaican rap technique of “toasting”.
The band, which formed in Birmingham in 1978, scored a series of hits with songs such as Mirror In The Bathroom, Tears Of A Clown, Ranking Full Stop and Hands Off She’s Mine.
Musician and activist Billy Bragg also paid tribute to the musician, who played in bands with members of The Specials and Dexys Midnight Runners during his 40-year career.
He said: “Very sorry to hear that Ranking Roger has passed away. Rest easy, Rude Boy”
The social media account for the reggae group UB40 posted: “R.I.P Ranking Roger, Big Love UB40.”
UB40’s Robin Campbell remembered Charlery as a “delightful gentleman”.
He told Press Association: “We knew The Beats because they were from the same place as us, and we saw each other all the time. I’ve seen, (and) met Roger over the years of course and every time I met him he was just a delightful gentlemen. He always wanted to be in our band.
“When we first knew him he was a teenager, I guess, and when we first played, the first few gigs we played, he turned up at the shows, and he used to get up on stage with us, and do a bit of MCing, toasting, you know. And he confided to me, only a couple of years ago, that he was always, his ambition was to be in UB40 but we never invited him, which was something to find out 40 years later. He was just a delightful guy”.
Campbell said that Charlery’s work was “music that will last forever”.
Ska band Madness said in a statement that its members were “very saddened” by news of Charlery’s death.
They added: “Sending all our love and peace from Suggs, Mike, Mark, Lee, Chris, Woody and Cathal.”
The band, fronted by the black hat-wearing Suggs, spawned from the same musical movement of the late 70s but chose to focus on a ska sound.
Matt Hoy, a touring vocalist with UB40, sent his condolences to Charlery’s family.
In a post to Instagram, he wrote: “Rest in Peace Ranking Roger, such sad news!! Lovely guy… Way to young!! Condolences to his family.”
Pauline Black, who fronted the two-tone revival band The Selecter, also took to social media to pay tribute.
She posted a short excerpt from Hamlet, which read: “Goodnight sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”.
Despite his health challenges, Charlery released an album, Public Confidential, in January and also completed a memoir.
He is survived by his partner Pauline and five children including Ranking Junior, who he has made music with for the last decade.