Staple was born in Manchester, Jamaica. Neville left Jamaica to live in the English town of Rugby, Warwickshire at the age of five but later moved to Coventry. He was initially active in the sound system scene, forming his own crew called “Jah Baddis”. Neville was a regular fixture at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry where he met the resident DJ there, Pete Waterman. Pete wrote the foreword to Neville’s biography – “Original Rude Boy” – and briefly managed The Specials.
Neville’s first involvement with The Specials was when they were still called The Coventry Automatics, prior to Terry Hall and John Bradbury‘s entrance. He initially joined as their roadie but at a gig supporting The Clash, Neville took to the stage and never looked back. For a while, The Specials were managed by The Clash’s manager Bernard Rhodes of whom Neville toasted “Bernie Rhodes knows don’t argue” at the beginning of the Specials hit single “Gangsters”.. However he has said in an interview that the lyric is actually “Bernie Rhodes Nose” rather than “knows” as the size of their managers nose was always a topic of great amusement amongst the band members.
Neville sang lead vocals on some tracks or additional and backing vocals alongside Terry Hall’s lead. His early vocal style was mostly toasting or chanting over a rhythm. A forerunner of rapping which was brought to Britain in the 1960s by musicians from Jamaica. Neville honed his toasting skills on the sound system scene in Coventry during the 1970s, on his cousin’s ‘Messenger Sound’ then later his own system called ‘Jah Baddis’. He also began singing with the Specials and contributed to many of their songs writings, although rarely got credit. When he joined the Coventry Automatics, the line up already included Jerry Dammers, Horace Panter and Silverton Hutchinson on drums. Terry Hall subsequently came in as vocalist, replacing Tim Strickland, and Roddy Radiation on lead guitar. John Bradbury would later take over on drums from Silverton. Neville participated in a reunion line up of The Specials from 1993 to 2001, and again from 2009 to 2012, when he left the band due to mostly personal reasons, as well as some health concerns.
In 1990, Staple joined Ranking Roger from The Beat to form Special Beat, a revival group playing hits from both former two-tone bands. This was in response to the huge explosion of interest in ska in the United States, the so-called “Third Wave” of ska. Neville moved to California in the 1990s to work with many of these new American ska acts. Bands he collaborated with included No Doubt, Rancid and Unwritten Law. Neville also featured on the song “Explosive” by the Canadian ska band, The Planet Smashers.
In 2000, Staple’s re-recordings of hits by The Specials and Fun Boy Three were released as The Very Best of the Specials and Fun Boy Three, though without being prominently labelled as a solo work by Staple.
Neville worked for many years in the US with various bands and also with The Hitmen, including providing a soundtrack for the movie, ‘Vampires Anonymous’ and extensive touring.
In 2004, Neville returned to the UK and formed “The Neville Staple Band”, releasing the critically acclaimed album The Rude Boy Returns, with contributions from Clash guitar man Mick Jones and Damned drummer Rat Scabies, with Flipron‘s Joe Atkinson’s on organ. The group featured former members of the British ska band Bad Manners with Warren Middleton (Trombone) – later replaced by Spencer Hague) Stephen Armstrong (Bass Guitar) Joe Atkinson (from Flipron, Keyboards/Organ) and Matty Bane (Drums) Billy Shinbone (Guitar) Patrick Pretorius (from The Talks – occasionally deputises on drums). Andy Perriss (Guitar & MD) – Who in Dec 2013, decided to leave the band after more than 12 years, returned to the music business in 2016 after a short break to join The Beat (feat. Ranking Roger) Billy Shinbone succeeded Andy on guitar in 2014. Neville’s wife/manager Christine Sugary Staple began performing with the band from 2015/16.
Since 2004, Neville has relentlessly toured the UK, Europe, The Middle East, Australia & New Zealand with his own band, as well as several successful tours and shows alongside Ranking Roger of The Beat and Pauline Black of The Selecter as Special Beat and Legends of Ska. He also helped to launch the career of Johnny Zee (aka Taz of Stereo Nation) of Bollywood music fame, after managing and producing for him early on. Neville produced and released The Rudeboy Returns album the same year.
In 2013 Neville produced a new album called ‘Ska Crazy’ with his band for release May 2014, which includes old ska classic covers and brand new material. His wife Christine Staple and long time friend Daddy Woody, a Jamaican DJ/Artist, also provide vocals on the album.
Neville has also worked on various collaborations with ‘The Mutants’ (Rhythm and Punk Review) including co-writing 4 tracks on the album – (one of them co-written with his wife Christine), ‘The Talks’ and Flipron as well as tracks with ‘The Dub Pistols’ (release 2014) and ‘Duplex’.
In 2015 Neville produced ‘Rudegirl Sounds’ by Christine Sugary Staple as well as began more production projects including a new album with his band other musician friends.
In 2016 onwards, Neville has continued to collaborate with other artists, including Save Ferris, The Rifffs, Jessy Greene, Save Ferris and Ed Rome; and has toured extensively across the UK, Europe, Australia and will tour Hong Kong and the US in 2017-2018. His latest album ‘Return of Judge Roughneck’ was released in Feb 2017 and was co-produced with Tom Lowry from Planet Studios and wife Christine Sugary Staple, who also co-writes and performs songs with Neville. The lead track video was premiered by Vive Le Rock Magazine and the album received rave reviews. Neville Staple recreated his famous Judge Roughneck character, first seen as part of the ‘Stupid Marriage’ song from the Specials debut album on 2Tone Records. The album includes classic Jamaican early reggae tunes, ska stomping rhythms and new tracks with echoes of 2Tone and Bluebeat mixed with Trojan music styles. Part 2 of the album is a dub journey with atmospheric vibes, toasting fun and twisted song versions. Another joint album with Christine Sugary Staple is due to be released later in 2017/18 which includes collaborations with other artists, including Roddy ‘Radiation’ Byers (former band mate of The Specials).
In April 2009, Neville Staple set out on a reunion tour with The Specials. The same month also saw the launch of his biography Original Rude Boy published by Aurum Press. The book covers Neville’s involvement with the 1970s sound system scene and childhood in Jamaica. Then how a chance encounter with Jerry Dammers and The Specials led to his involvement in that band and Fun Boy Three. Neville collaborated with former BBC journalist Tony McMahon on the book and both are registered with the Blake Friedmann literary agency.