With Coventry Ska Outfit, The Specials, Back On The Live Circuit, Horace Panter Talks Us Through His Evolution As A Bassist

“I’ve always been interested in songs that had rhythm,” says Horace Panter, who’s making a return to the live stage with Coventry ska outfit, The Specials. “I always wondered why ‘Road Runner’ by Junior Walker sounded so fantastic, and why it was that I danced to all of those Tamla Motown songs and anything that was on Stax Atlantic.” Merging authentic Jamaican rhythms with more aggressive guitar styles, The Specials spearheaded a 2 Tone ska revival that began in the late 1970s. “The Specials were three parts Bob Marley and The Wailers, two parts The Skatalites and three parts The Clash,” says Horace. “There was this mod revival going on, but we were a couple of years older than a lot of those guys and we had all learnt to play in working-men’s clubs so we always had that edge.” The Specials brought with them a fuller instrumentation and faster tempos, fuelled by a harder punk-edged guitar sound. In terms of his bass playing, Horace sticks to a tried-and-tested approach of staying true to the basics. “I think that there are times to be busy on the bass and there are times when you just need to do the job, especially when there are so many different layers going on. I’m more than happy just to sit back and play.”


When it comes to gear, Horace alternates between a Fender Precision, a Fender Jazz and a Gibson Thunderbird. “I’ve had my 1972 Fender Precision since 1975. It’s the bass I used to record the first Specials album. Prior to that I bought myself a Gibson Thunderbird for my birthday. I remember the first reggae band I ever saw were The Cimarons, and their bass player played a Gibson Thunderbird and he looked great!” For more info visit www.thespecials.com