When we think of classic ska-punk, the name “Bucket” Hingley probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. However, Hingley was a crucial figure in the UK ska scene of the 1980s and 1990s, both as the lead singer of The Toasters and as the founder of the ska label Moon Ska Records. Despite his important contributions to the genre, Hingley’s legacy is often overlooked- so today, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the life and work of this influential musician and music industry visionary.
Hingley’s Early Life
Robert Hingley was born in the UK in 1955. As a teenager, he was enamored with the sound of Jamaican ska and reggae, and he started his first band- The VoodooBoogie Men- while still in high school. However, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Hingley’s career really took off.
In 1981, Hingley became the frontman of The Toasters, a New York-based ska band that had recently formed. Despite not being American himself, Hingley fit in perfectly with the Toaster’s eclectic group of musicians, and his distinctive singing style quickly became a hallmark of the band’s sound. Over the years, Hingley and the Toasters released a slew of influential ska albums, including “Skaboom!”, “Recriminations”, and “Dub 56”.
Moon Ska Records
In 1983, Hingley took his passion for ska to the next level by founding Moon Ska Records. The label, which was the first US-based ska label, became a crucial outlet for the genre during the height of its popularity in the late 90s. In addition to releasing albums from The Toasters, Moon Ska also gave a platform to other ska bands such as The Slackers, The Pietasters, and Mustard Plug.
The Legacy of Moon Ska Records
Although Moon Ska Records is no longer in operation, its legacy lives on. The label played a significant role in introducing ska to audiences outside of its traditional Jamaican roots, and helped to popularize the genre in the US and beyond. Today, Moon Ska albums are still beloved by ska fans around the world, and are considered essential listening for anyone interested in the history of the genre.
Hingley’s Leadership and Vision
One of the most remarkable things about Hingley was his visionary approach to the music industry. At a time when ska was still a relatively niche genre, he recognized its potential and worked tirelessly to promote it and build an audience for it. His work with Moon Ska Records was just one example of his forward-thinking leadership- over the years, Hingley also organized numerous ska festivals, started his own ska-themed clothing line, and even launched a radio show dedicated to the genre.
The End of an Era
Sadly, Hingley’s life and career were cut short in 2020, when he passed away at the age of 62. His death was a shock to the ska world, and tributes poured in from fans and fellow musicians alike. While his loss was felt acutely, it’s heartening to know that his legacy lives on, and that his music will continue to inspire and energize generations to come.
The Power of Ska
Hingley’s work was about more than just music- it was about the power of ska to bring people together and inspire them to create positive change in the world. Whether through his music, his label, or his activism, Hingley believed in the power of ska to make a difference, and he worked tirelessly to spread that message to as many people as possible.
Robert “Bucket” Hingley may not be as well-known as some of his contemporaries in the ska world, but his impact on the genre cannot be overstated. From his work with The Toasters to his visionary leadership of Moon Ska Records, Hingley left an indelible mark on the music industry, and his legacy continues to inspire ska fans around the world. Here’s to the man behind the music, and the incredible impact he had on the world of ska.
Q: What was the name of the label founded by Bucket Hingley?
A: Moon Ska Records.
Q: What was the focus of Hingley’s radio show?
A: Ska music.
Q: What was the name of Hingley’s first band?
A: The VoodooBoogie Men.
Q: Which popular ska bands were signed to Moon Ska Records?
A: The Slackers, The Pietasters, and Mustard Plug.
Q: When did Bucket Hingley pass away?
A: In 2020, at the age of 62.