The English Beat

Artist Playlists

About The English Beat

Known as The English Beat in North America to avoid confusion with another band, and simply as The Beat everywhere else, this energetic pop-ska combo emerged in 1978 to bring a refreshing spirit of inclusion to a bummed-out nation. Featuring singer/songwriter Dave Wakeling and Jamaican toaster Ranking Roger, the British-Caribbean crew debuted their signature formula—happy songs with sad lyrics—with an uptempo 1979 cover of “The Tears of a Clown.” The Beat fit neatly into the British two-tone scene pioneered by The Specials and The Selecter, and hit the Top 5 with their 1980 debut album, I Just Can’t Stop It, which generated three Top 10 singles and the controversial yet highly danceable anti-Thatcher polemic “Stand Down Margaret.” The Beat took their emo-pachinko sound in an Afropop direction on 1981’s Wha’ppen? before returning to ska-centricity and embracing classic jangle pop on Special Beat Service in 1982. They broke up the following year to form popular offshoots General Public and Fine Young Cannibals. Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling helmed various reconstituted Beat lineups into the 21st century, and the latter kept The Beat going after Roger’s death in 2019.

Birmingham, England
March 1979
Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada