Coventry Music Museum remembers 2-tone legend Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson

The death of one of The Selecter’s iconic vocalists has left the Coventry music community in shock, with Music Museum curator Pete Chambers describing his contribution to the city’s musical landscape as “immense”. Hendrickson died at his home in Coventry on June 11 from cancer at 73 years old, after having been diagnosed the year prior.

Alongside Pauline Black, he led The Selecter to become one of the most important bands in the 2-tone revival movement that sprang up in Coventry in the late '70s and early '80s. Chambers said that when he heard the news, he was "absolutely in shock".

“He was amazing on stage. He was just a powerhouse, always sweating and going mad on stage.

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“But if you did talk to him when he came off stage, he was such a lovely man, such a gentleman and never let the fans down. His legacy will be not just as an amazing musician but as an incredible human being as well.”

Hendrickson was one of the seven musicians brought together by The Selecter’s founder Neol Davies after he wrote a successful B-side to The Specials’ ‘Gangsters’. The Selecter’s first iteration lasted only three years but in that time, Hendrickson contributed to some of the best-known songs to come out of Coventry, including ‘On My Radio’, ‘Three Minute Hero’, and ‘Missing Words’.

The band split up in 1982 and while they did reform in the early '90s, Hendrickson only ever returned as an occasional member.

“When punk died, everyone was wondering when the next thing was coming and, of course, they were all looking at London," said Chambers.

“Then up from behind, little old Coventry created this genre. People wanted to come to Coventry to get that unique sound. Suddenly Coventry was on the music map and remains there now all these years later.”

The Coventry Music Museum contains a wealth of memorabilia on a band that put Coventry on the musical map. Chambers even pointed out a cowbell that belonged to Gaps, which was stolen off the stage by a determined fan.

“He just made so much difference to the band’s sound, being the male foil to Pauline’s female vocal sound. It just worked perfectly with that dynamic.”

Bandmate Pauline Black paid tribute to her former bandmate as well, describing him as “extraordinary” and “a really fine songwriter.” Hendrickson’s family is still yet to announce funeral plans for the iconic musician.