2 Tone (music genre)

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For the record label, see 2 Tone Records. For other uses, see Two-tone (disambiguation).

2 Tone (or Two Tone) was a late-1970s ska revival in the United Kingdom led by Jerry Dammers and The Specials. It fused traditional ska music with punk rock attitude, energy and musical elements.[1][2] Its name came from the record label that Dammers founded, 2 Tone Records, as well as a desire to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain. Although 2 Tone's mainstream commercial appeal was largely limited to the UK, it influenced the North American ska punk movement (also known as third wave ska) in the 1980s and 1990s.[3][4]


The Selecter in 1980
Coventry Music Wall of Fame inductees, December 2011

The 2 Tone sound was developed by young musicians in Coventry, West Midlands, England who grew up hearing 1960s Jamaican music.[5] 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, The Bodysnatchers and Sharp Ties.[3]

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.[6][7][8]

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.[9] It includes exhibition space, the Coventry Music Wall of Fame,[10][11][12][13] 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.


  1. ^ "Ska Revival". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ Chris Woodstra. "The Specials". AllMusic. 
  3. ^ a b Selvin, Joel, San Francisco Chronicle, "A brief history of ska" Sunday, 23 March 2008
  4. ^ "Third Wave Ska Revival". AllMusic. 
  5. ^ "Jerry Dammers interview by Alexis Petrides", Mojo, Jan. 2002. Accessed on 2-tone.info 18 October 2007
  6. ^ Horace Panter (2007). Ska'd For Life. Sidgwick & Jackson. 
  7. ^ Staple, Neville. Original Rude Boy. Aurum Press, 2009
  8. ^ "British ska legends The Specials. History, lyrics, MP3, 2 Tone, two tone, ska, Jerry Dammers, Terry Hall, Neville Staple, Roddy Byers, Lynval Golding, Horace Panter, John Brad Bradbury". TheSpecials2.com. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  9. ^ "2-TONE CENTRAL-The 2-Tone Museum, Cafe and Venue, Coventry". 2tonecentral.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-28. 
  10. ^ Chambers, Pete (20 October 2011). "Music Legends Honoured on Coventry's Wall of Fame". Coventry Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Carpenter, Steve (22 November 2011). "Three more names on Coventry Music Wall of Fame". Coventry Observer. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Bagot, Martin (6 December 2011). "Coventry music heroes honoured in Wall of Fame". Coventry Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2011. 


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