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Roddy Radiation & The Skabilly Rebels

Roddy radiation and the skabilly rebels

Showtime: Sunday 9 July, 4.30pm-5.15pm

The Skabilly Rebels are the creation of famous Coventry son Roddy Radiation Byers – a key member of The Specials.

Byers' first real band was formed in Coventry in 1975 and were called The Wild Boys. It was in The Wild Boys that he started songwriting. His first was "1980's Teddy Boy", and later came "Concrete Jungle" which was recorded by The Specials for their debut album, Specials (1979). The Specials version of "Concrete Jungle" was eventually released as a single by Chrysalis Records. Byers joined The Specials when the band was called The Coventry Automatics and wrote several songs for the band. The most successful was "Rat Race", which peaked at number five in the UK Singles Chart in May 1980.

Byers also wrote "Hey Little Rich Girl", which appeared on The Specials second album, More Specials (1980). "Hey Little Rich Girl" was released as a single in Japan by Chrysalis in 1980, and covered by Amy Winehouse on her successful album Back To Black. Byers sang the lead vocal on "Concrete Jungle" and the track "Bragging and Trying Not to Lie" which was released as a free single with initial copies of More Specials. "Bragging and Trying Not to Lie" was credited as Roddy Radiation & The Specials. After The Specials split in 1981, Byers was dropped by Chrysalis before he re-emerged with The Tearjerkers, a band that he had begun in the last months of The Specials. The band played numerous gigs and a cult following. The Tearjerkers were signed up by Chiswick Records in 1982, and released their debut single "Desire" b/w "Western Song". The band finally split in 1987 because, as Roddy commented, "after seven years there was no major recording success". The Bonediggers were formed shortly after the Tearjerkers. The band released a self titled album on Rimshot Records the following year. Byers was an essential part of 'The Specials 2', who formed in the early 1990s after teaming up with Desmond Dekker for the King Of Kings album.

The group toured for a couple of years throughout the UK, America and Japan. They released two singles "Hypocrite" and a cover of Toots & the Maytals "Pressure Drop". The band recorded two albums 1996 Today's Specials, a compilation of covers and 1998 Guilty 'til Proved Innocent! which were made up of original material. Byers contributed songs for latter's "Tears in My Beer," "Bonediggin'," "Keep on Learning" and "The Man With No Name". After The Specials 2, Byers worked with the acoustic project, Three Men & Black, which consisted of Jean Jacques Burnel (The Stranglers), Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers), Pauline Black (The Selecter), Bruce Foxton (The Jam) and Dave Wakeling (The Beat, General Public) and Nick Welsh (Skaville UK). Byers' current band, The Skabilly Rebels, are based in Coventry. And play gigs all over the Uk & Europe. Roddy is also an ambassador for The Specialized Project, a non profit group that raises money for Teenage Cancer Trust/Youth Music & Tonic Music for Mental Health. The Rebels released their debut album 'Blues Attack' at the end of 2009. In 2009 Byers rejoined the reformed Specials for their 30th anniversary celebrations, leaving in 2014 to concentrate on The Rebels.


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