The Specials’ Horace Panter will play an intimate date with East Lancs FindSexyJobs


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THIS summer, thousands of music fans packed vast festival grounds in the hope of catching The Specials live.

The band’s bassist Horace Panter will treat music lovers to the ultimate ‘up close and personal’ experience next month when The Dirt Road play one of East Lancashire’s most intimate venues.

The band – a true supergroup consisting of Horace, guitarist Steve Walwyn, formerly Dr. Feelgood, and drummer Ted Duggan, who has played with The Beat, The Selecter and Badfinger – will be at the 60-seat Barnoldswick Music and Arts Centre.

“There’s a real yin and yang to it that I love,” Horace said. “It’s great to be in The Specials and be able to play all these big festivals, which we’ve been doing over the summer, but it’s also really great to be able to go to a 60-capacity venue and see a white audience. ‘ eyes and just rock out.

“It kind of sums up my approach to music. Yes, I’m on The Specials, but The Specials is not my life. My life is my life and The Specials is just a part of it. But I love acting and I love performing and that’s why I have all these little side projects and one of them is playing with Steve and Ted.”

As a founding member of The Specials, Horace was part of the Two-Tone movement that fused ska and politics and gave voice to many disaffected young people in the late 1970s. The band had a string of hits including Ghost Town and Too Much Too Young, but then stopped playing in 1981.

Consisting of original members Horace, singer Terry Hall, guitarist Lynval Golding and drummer John Bradbury, the band reformed in 2009 to mark the band’s 30th anniversary.

“Up until 2015, we were the biggest special group in the world,” Horace admits candidly. “We just played the hits; there was nothing else, but there was a real desire to do something outside of that.”

John Bradbury’s untimely death in December 2016 put new projects on hold until 2018.

“We finally got together to write some new stuff and I’m glad we did,” Horace said.

This album, Encore, was hailed as a return to form by both fans and critics. The Specials subsequently released Protest Songs, an album of covers featuring songs by artists as diverse as Frank Zappa and Big Bill Broonzy.

“We really threw the rule book out the window and just played the songs we liked,” Horace said.

And he revealed some exciting news for Specials fans.

“This year we mainly did festivals without Lynval, who was recovering from spinal surgery. Now he’s on the road to recovery and he’s coming next month and we’re going to start writing material for the new album, which we’re going to record in LA in November.”

The album is scheduled for release next summer and may surprise fans.

“This is the reggae album we planned to write in 2019 before Covid happened,” said Horace. “It will be nice to show there is life in old dogs.

But before that, Horace is busy with the Dirt Road Band, a blues-soaked outfit.

“The blues was my alma mater, if you will,” Horace said. “I played blues before I played ska and reggae with The Specials.

The band plays a number of classic blues songs, but also adds its own numbers.

“We’re playing some songs from the solo album that Steve put out a few years ago and we’ve been talking about writing our own stuff. I’ve got bits and pieces in the bottom drawer that I’ve had here for a while, so apart from the usual crowd pleasers there’s a few things to keep the creative juices flowing.’

Horace and Steve have known each other for many years with Steve living in Leamington Spa and Horace in Coventry.

“Every 18 months or so we’d end up in the back room of a pub jamming as musicians somewhere,” Horace said. “Steve said he was thinking about looking at a side project and if I was interested, which of course I was. As if I needed another lame excuse to play music with one of my favorite musicians.

“During Covid he parted ways with Dr. Feelgood after 32 years and the time was right to get this thing going.”

As if being in The Specials and playing live in the Dirt Road Band wasn’t enough, Horace is also hard at work on his latest collection of paintings inspired by a trip to LA and Texas earlier this year.

“Am I an artist or a musician? It depends what day of the week it is,” he laughed. “I feel really lucky to have two creative careers.

“You have to remember I’m an art school. Brad (John Bradbury) Jerry (Dammers) and I all graduated from art school. I used my degree in the 1990s when I became a teacher and art was always there.

“When The Specials went to New York, everyone else went to nightclubs, while I got an early night because I wanted to go to the Museum of Modern Art or the Whitney the next day.”

“I’ve always been in The Specials to travel the world and see great artwork. When the band reformed in 2009, they had a lot of downtime, so I started painting as something to work on and it just moved on from there.”

Now, Horace’s paintings based on scenes of American life, the character Bean and even old tapes are highly collectible.

But the image will fade next month when The Dirt Road Band head to Barnoldswick.

“It’s not the smallest place we’ve ever played, but it’s not too far,” Horace said. “But I love it.

The Dirt Road Band, Barnoldswick Music and Arts Centre, Saturday 8 October. Details at


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