2 Tone

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2 Tone
Stylistic origins Ska, punk rock, reggae, rocksteady, new wave
Cultural origins Late 1970s in Coventry, West Midlands, England
Typical instruments Guitar, bass, keryboard, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, drums
Derivative forms Third wave ska, ska punk
Other topics
2 Tone Records

2 Tone (or Two Tone) is a music genre created in England in the late 1970s by fusing elements of ska, punk rock, rocksteady, reggae and new wave. Within the history of ska, 2 Tone is classified as its second wave, and is the precursor of the third wave ska scene of the 1980s and 1990s.[1]


The Selecter in 1980

The 2 Tone sound was developed by young musicians in Coventry, West Midlands, England who grew up hearing 1960s Jamaican music.[2] They combined influences from ska, reggae and rocksteady with elements of punk rock and new wave. Bands considered part of the genre include: The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, Madness, Bad Manners and The Bodysnatchers.[1]

The term was coined by The Specials' keyboard player Jerry Dammers, who — with the assistance of Horace Panter and graphic designer John "Teflon" Sims — created the iconic Walt Jabsco logo (a man in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, pork pie hat, white socks and black loafers) to represent the 2 Tone genre. The logo was based on an early album cover photo of Peter Tosh, and included an added black-and-white check pattern.[3][4][5]

Most of the bands considered to be part of the 2 Tone genre were signed to 2 Tone Records at some point. Other record labels associated with the 2 Tone sound were Stiff Records and Go Feet Records. The music was especially popular among skinheads, rudies and some mod revivalists.


On 1 October 2010, the 2-Tone Central museum, cafe and venue opened in the Coventry University Students' Union building, and by August 2011, it was moved to the 2-Tone Village in Stoke, Coventry.[6] It includes exhibition space, the Coventry Music Wall of Fame,[7][8][9][10] a cafe, a gift shop, a Caribbean restaurant and a music venue. Many of the items on display are on loan from members of The Selecter, The Beat and The Specials.


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Selvin, Joel, San Francisco Chronicle, "A brief history of ska" Sunday, 23 March 2008
  2. ^ "Jerry Dammers interview by Alexis Petrides", Mojo, Jan. 2002. Accessed on 2-tone.info 18 October 2007
  3. ^ Panter, Horace. Ska'd For Life. Sidgwick & Jackson, 2007
  4. ^ Staple, Neville. Original Rude Boy. Aurum Press, 2009
  5. ^ http://www.thespecials2.com/history2.php
  6. ^ http://www.2tonecentral.co.uk/
  7. ^ Chambers, Pete (20 October 2011). "Music Legends Honoured on Coventry's Wall of Fame". Coventry Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Carpenter, Steve (22 November 2011). "Three more names on Coventry Music Wall of Fame". Coventry Observer. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Manger, Warren (6 December 2011). "Wall of Fame honours more stars who put Coventry on the music map". Coventry Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Bagot, Martin (6 December 2011). "Coventry music heroes honoured in Wall of Fame". Coventry Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 

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