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Ska'd for Life: A Personal Journey with The Specials

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  30 reviews
As a bass player with The Specials in his second-hand suit and pork pie hat, Horace was a member of one of the most innovative and exciting bands to come snarling out of the punk era. Founded by Jerry Dammers, their fusion of punk, reggae, and ska created a new musical fashion—spearheaded by their own Two Tone record label—that stood for unity and racial harmony in a polar ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Pan Macmillan (first published July 7th 2007)
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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  219 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Horace Panter aka Sir Horace Gentleman was the bass player with, and a founder member of, The Specials. Jerry Dammers lead the band and the Two Tone record label which, with its marvellous fusion of punk, reggae and ska, kickstarted the late 1970s ska revival in the UK.

Horace vividly describes his life before The Specials, the band's formation, their meteoric rise to the top of the charts, and their equally swift disintegration.

This clear-eyed recollection of life in The Specials is a marvellous
Kurt Gottschalk
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The story of the Specials has been the poprock story I was most fascinated with of all the ones I don't know. Despite a short life and a limited output, they're a band that I have always really believed in. Their disintegration seemed heartbreaking to me, even though I knew nothing but the vaguest of gossip about it.

Someone close to the Specials camp (which seems a contentious one and I didn't ask him if I could use his name) assured me that Panter's memoir is a balanced one—as opposed to some
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Three and a half stars really. It’s a book of two halves - the glorious get together and the slow dull separation

But fuck they were cool
Ian Wood
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music-biography
A few years ago on being asked for any New Years Resolutions on Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny Phil Jupitus answered to ‘get the band back together’ he went on to say ‘it might be difficult as he wasn’t actually in The Specials’. Phil has, however, contributed in his own way by writing the foreword of the memoirs of Sir Horace Panter Gentleman ‘Ska’d For Life’.

An apt title if there ever was one as The Specials Ska’d the lives of not only bass player extraordinaire Panter but also fans Phil Ju
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
The Specials are the quintessential ska band of the 1970s-1980s: edgy, multiracial, political, swinging. Together with Madness and, to a lesser extent, The Selecter, The Specials introduced ska music to the white working and middle class. Horace Panter (aka Sir Horace Gentleman), the bass player in the original band, describes the meteoric rise of the band, from a fairly random collection of musicians in the industrial town of Coventry in the West Midlands to a music sensation in Europe and beyo ...more
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, music
As many of my friends on GoodReads may have noticed I do enjoy the odd music related autobiography/ biography and this is certainly no exception. Horace’s book is very well written very funny and very insightful. I would go so far as to say it comes close to my favourite music biog of all time (no not a Bowie one!); “Diary Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” by Ian Hunter.
“Ska’d For Life” should be read by anyone in a band, especially if you’re just starting out, anyone who loves music and obviously anyon
Peter O'Connor
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
As there are few chronicles of this curious little subculture (it never really hit Australia until Madness began to chart and even then it was a completely different animal) so this account from one of the guys at ground zero is refreshing and really seems to convey the rise and rise of one of the great influential bands of the punk/post punk era. They largely come across as naughty kids in a candy store as they hit the road and conquer America all the while enjoying notoriety on their home shor ...more
Barry Hammond
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
The bass player for the band that gave us: A Message To You,Rudy, Ghost Town, Blank Expression, Monkey Man, and Nite Klub, and many more goes down memory lane to give the story of this great ska band as he lived it. Humorous, scary, sad, frustrating and touching by turns it's the story of a great band imploding under its own self-created pressures and the portrait of an era. Great stuff! - BH.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
A decent read giving some insight into one of the best bands to come out of England and definitely the best thing to ever come out of Coventry!
Kate Riley
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant! As a lover of the Specials at the time and now, this was a 'must read' book for me. Horace Gentleman Panter relays the story from his point of view. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks Horace!
Aug 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took a break from a big pile of classic lit to read this, in an attempt to soothe my benumbed brain after The Way of All Flesh. While it did the job, there were times this book could just as well have been written by Samuel Butler anyway!
Horace Panter (aka Sir Horace Gentleman) was the bassist for UK ska outfit The Specials for their brief existence. While he was present for all the shows from the band's inception all the way to their disintegration, as well as playing on both proper albums an
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Each genre usually has that one (possibly two) person/band that sits atop the mountain… Bob Marley for reggae, Motorhead for metal, Vanilla Ice for rap (wait, what?!), and for ska it’s definitely The Specials. Having owned a bass and played in my fair share of bands – how couldn’t I be inspired and intimidated by Horace’s playing and crazed stage presence?

Just to hear some classic stories on the start and rise of 2-Tone to the band being on the top of the charts but having to bust chairs backsta
Justin Simpson
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a neat book. I received this as a gift and even as a big fan of all movements of ska, I had no idea this even existed. Horace Panter, famed bass player of the legendary skinhead / new wave British ska revival band the Specials pens his experiences in the band beginning with him deciding to learn the bass all the way to the breakup of the Specials and a short "where are they now". While the book goes into some detail about his personal life (the entire thing is written from his perspective - ...more
Paul Smith
Feb 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
The 2 Tone era, sandwiched as it was between punks on one side and New Romantics on the other, has had an effect on popular culture far outstretching its relatively short lifespan. The Specials were an interesting band operating during this interesting period, and Panter's engaging biography of the band tells their story very well.

The band were of course astonishingly political, but the relaxed, friendly narrative deals with the issues of the day and how the band tackled them in a non-patronisin
Donovan Foote
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Bass playing painters… well, Horace Panter and Paul Simonon both—I expect there are loads more… Being a painter that plays bass, seems like I should have dug this a bit more than I did. At moments I really liked this book, but for the most part it was just an enjoyable read. "Just" isn't really needed—it was an enjoyable, quick read. What I think is most remarkable about the book, is Panter's willingness to expose a younger, more naive version of himself. There are two large portions of the book ...more
Chris C.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Specials, 2-Tone, or Ska fans
Shelves: punk-rock
Would have liked it much better it it were a paperback edition. Oh well, it was free so beggars can't be choosers. Thought it was a pretty interesting read. Good for Specials fans, but probably for for the General Public (pun intended). Provided insight into the band and it's complex dynamics, from formation to it's ultimate demise. Mr. Panter, coming off as one of the more level headed members, tells his own personal story, which is not fraught with the general rock star douche-baggery. Would h ...more
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is useful for getting some chronological perspective on the band and the times. Panter has detailed tour journal entries from 1979 and 1980 and writes about things like seeing the first walkman to buying the first hip-hop records in New York. The insights into how their songs were created are also very interesting. To think that songs like "Dawning of a New Era" were not ska songs at first is revealing. The records "More Specials" and perhaps "In the Sudio" should be given a closer lis ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, biographies, music
A wonderful roller coaster ride through the life of an influential British group, who came from the punk roots, but reflected the growing disaffection in late 70s early 80s Britain.

Whether you're a fan of The Specials or not, this book gives a great insight into how bands are formed, how they develop, and how they can implode.

I learnt a lot: I never knew how big The Specials were in the USA, and how poorly organised some of these tours can be! It's not all glamour clearly!
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
You will like this book if you're interested in:

a) Music
b) the British
c) Awesome
d) Gaining wisdom by learning about other peoples' perspectives by reading first-hand accounts
e) Realism

Subtopics: Punk subculture, ska, bass playing, being in a band, unity, touring, etc.
Jan 28, 2009 added it
Enjoyed this book....
I didn't like the band when I was younger....
But do now....
Book describes what went on from Horace's perspective...
No frills ..... when he doesn't remember what happened ......"he doesn't remember!!"
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic insight
Rog Harrison
Apr 10, 2010 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable book and I have even started listening to the Specials' music!
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nice wee guy- unpretentious account of The Specials.
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
A very easy to read, unpretentious and personable memoir from one of the "quiet men" in The Specials. I loved it.
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
A fabulously honest and, at times, entirely self-deprecating memoir of the life of The Specials during a politically turbulent time in UK history. Loved it.
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: music geeks
This is a great book. A quick read. Autobiography of the bassist from The Specials. Horace comes off as a super cool humble guy.
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great book about the second wave of ska and a great band and their ups and downs with fame and drugs and rock and roll.
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
a great overview of the specials and the 80's two tone ska revolution.
everything from Bluebeat to Bernie Rhodes and back.

Bernie Rhodes knows don't argue!
rated it liked it
Jan 22, 2014
Niall Finneran
rated it liked it
Oct 31, 2015
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