The Beat formed in the working class suburbs of industrial Birmingham in 1978.Their songs are a mix of ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock, and their lyrics deal with love and political topics.
The original line-up consisted of:
*Ranking Roger (vocals)
*Andy Cox (guitar)
*David Steele (bass)
*Everett Morton (drums)
Papa Saxa, born Lionel Martin in 1930 (saxophonist) joined the Beat to record their first single, ‘Tears of a Clown,’ a cover version of the Motown hit by Smokey Robinson. The single went straight to number six in the UK charts and the band became an over night success. Saxa had played saxophone with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken and Desmond Dekker in the first wave of ska.
Further singles from the first album, ‘I Just Can’t Stop It’ (1980) included “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”, “Mirror in the Bathroom”, and “Hands Off…She’s Mine,” two of which reached the UK top ten, while another single, “Best Friend,” broke the top 30.
The second Beat album, ‘Wha’ppen?’ (1981) was supported by extensive touring, including a U.S. and worldwide tour alongside the likes of The Clash, The Police,REM, Talking Heads, The Pretenders and The Specials. The album yielded more UK hits, including “Drowning”/”All Out To Get You” and “Doors of Your Heart,” both of which broke the UK Top 40. The Beat received strong support from modern rock radio stations such as KROQ in Los Angeles and KYYX in Seattle.
Songs such as ‘Stand Down Margaret,’ saw them leading a movement for real social change whilst hundreds of thousands sang along with the band at nuclear disarmament marches. The Beat had a way with the people and were a source of upliftment.
Although The Beat’s main fan base was in the United Kingdom, the band was also popular in Australia, partly due to exposure on the radio station Triple J and the TV show Countdown. The Beat had a sizeable following in North America, where the band was known as The English Beat for legal reasons and so to avoid confusion with the American band The Beat.