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The English Beat
By the time Dave Wakeling wrote one of his first songs, "Save It for Later," at age 17, he was already a veteran student of Jamaican culture. "It was one of the strands of music of my adolescence ¿ and chasing skinhead girls," recalls the 56-year-old frontman for the great British ska band English Beat. "Not chasing them! Adoring them from a distance." How ska and reggae came to a white, soccer-loving U.K. teenager involves a history lesson, which the loquacious Wakeling cheerfully provides in a 40-minute interview by phone from a Nashville, Tenn. tour stop. After World War II, when buildings in England were decimated from German bombings, the government invited Jamaicans, West Indians and other island Commonwealth residents to relocate to the motherland and help rebuild.
"It was expected to be a fairly short-term stay on both sides," Wakeling recalls. "Of course, people come over and three years turn into five, and you meet someone and you have a family, and you don't want to leave. Some people maybe did go back, but most people stayed. So we grew up in that era. It was dead-easy to hear reggae."
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Read the full Engligh Beat interview
April 5, 2012