It was via a song with the Fun Boy Three that Terry Hall gave a hint to the horror that had befallen him.
The 1983 track Well Fancy That described how the singer had been abducted and taken to France aged 12 by a school teacher, who then abused him.
Hall, who has died aged 63 after a brief illness, told the world in the track: ‘On school trips to France / Well fancy that / You had a good time / Turned sex into crime.’
Opening up about the ordeal in 2019, he said he was abused by a ‘paedophile ring’.
It was via a song with the Fun Boy Three that Terry Hall gave a hint to the horror that had befallen him. The 1983 track Well Fancy That described how the singer had been abducted and taken to France aged 12 by a school teacher who was part of a paedophile ring. Above: Hall (centre) in 1982 with Fun Boy Three bandmates Neville Staple (left) and Lynval Golding (right)
Hall was sexually abused for four days before being ‘punched in the face’ and left at a roadside
The experience left the musician, best-known as the frontman of The Specials, with lifelong depression that caused him to drop out of education at the age of 14 and become addicted to Valium.
Hall, who was born in 1959 and raised in Coventry, where much of his family worked in the city’s booming car industry, told The Spectator in 2019: ‘I was abducted, taken to France and sexually abused for four days.
How lyrics in Fun Boy Three Song ‘Well Fancy That’ revealed abuse suffered by Terry Hall
On my first night in France
Well fancy that
You terrified me
I just wanted to sleep
Well fancy that
Light shone through
I left France
I arrived home
The hedge that you dragged me through
Led to a nervous breakdown
If I could have read
What was going on inside your head
I would have said
But I was blind
To your devious mind
There’s no excuse
For child abuse
And the scars that it leaves
Where do you draw the line
On school trips to France
Well fancy that
You had a good time
Turned sex into crime
Well fancy that
‘And then punched in the face and left on the roadside.’
Beset by the depression caused by the ordeal, he was prescribed Valium by a GP.
Describing his subsequent addiction, he said: ‘I didn’t go to school, I didn’t do anything. I just sat on my bed rocking for eight months.’
The experience was ‘life-changing’, and left him with an ‘illness’ that he had for the rest of his life.
Hall said the only way to deal with his experience was to write about it in the Fun Boy Three song, a challenge that he found ‘very difficult’.
The song described how his teacher took him to France ‘on the promise of teaching me French’, and he was ’12 and naive’.
It added: ‘On school trips to France / Well fancy that / You had a good time / Turned sex into crime / Well fancy that.’
Hall never revealed if he alerted his family, police or any other authorities about his ordeal and he did not reveal the identity of the teacher mentioned in the song.
He initially spoke about his experience in Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, saying how he was abducted by a ‘paedophile ring.’
He said: ‘I find it quite easy to forgive and forget. It’s like, you know, going back to my abduction, it’s like you can let that eat away at you but then well you know it’s paedophilia and it’s like part of life really.
‘It’s unfortunate it happened to me but you can’t just let it destroy your life, it’s not good.
Asked if, like some comedians, he needed to have ‘suffered’ to unlock his talent, he added: ‘It helps, I mean I suffer from manic depression and avoided all sorts of medication for a long time, then 10 years ago I started taking Lithium and stuff and I’m still on these drugs.
‘And it sort of helps, it sort of helps.’
He also said the abuse experience was when he started ‘not listening to anyone.’
As well as problems with depression, the singer became an alcoholic after trying to cope by self-medicating with gin.
He tried to take his own life in 2004 and was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In 2019 he said he had been taking medication to help him cope.
Asked if he got any pleasure out of performing, he said: ‘Absolutely none. That’s why I do it.’
Hall never revealed if he alerted his family, police or any other authorities about his ordeal and he did not reveal the teacher’s identity. Above: Hall performing with The Specials in 1979
After working temporary jobs that included being a bricklayer, Hall’s first writing credit came with local punk band Squad and their single Red Alert.
He joined The Specials, who were then known as The Coventry Automatics, in 1977.
They had number one hits including A Message To You, Rudy, Rat Race and Ghost Town, and were known for their ska and rocksteady style.
He left the band in 1981 and started the Fun Boy Three with fellow former Specials members Neville Staple and Lynval Golding.
Fun Boy Three achieved four UK top 10 singles during their time together, until Hall left the band in 1983 to form The Colourfield with ex-Swinging Cats members Toby Lyons and Karl Shale.
Fun Boy Three achieved four UK top 10 singles during their time together. Above: The band in 1983
Hall is seen in 1980, when he was still performing with The Specials. He left the band in 1981
Hall is seen performing with The Specials in 1979. The band had hits including A Message To You, Rudy, Rat Race and Ghost Town, and were known for their ska and rocksteady style
Hall performs with The Specials in Hyde Park in 2012, ahead of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics
Hall is survived by his wife, the director Lindy Heymann (pictured). They had one son, while Hall has two older sons with his ex-wife, Jeanette Hall
After undertaking a variety of solo and collaborative projects it was announced in 2008 that The Specials would be reforming for a number of tour dates and potential new music.
The Specials embarked on a 2009 tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary and in 2018 supported The Rolling Stones during a concert at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
In February 2019, The Specials released Encore, their first album of new material in 37 years.
Upon release, the album went straight to number one on the Official UK Album Chart, marking their first number one album, and the first time they had topped the charts since their classic track Ghost Town in 1981 and their single Too Much Too Young became a number one in 1980.
The album’s lead single, the politically themed Vote For Me, was considered by some fans as a follow-on from Ghost Town, which was hailed as a piece of popular social commentary having been released during the riots across England in 1981.