2 Tone brought to life: New exhibition to celebrate Coventry's 'Special' music

2 Tone music will be celebrated in a major new exhibition as part of Coventry's year as City of Culture.

The music genre was made famous by The Specials, with hits including "Ghost Town" and "Message to you Rudy".

It took its name from the band's self-made record label, 2 Tone Records, which propelled it to fame in 1979.

The exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum will explore the formation of the record label and examine its philosophy, political and social message, design and impact on the music charts of the day.

The Specials line up featured a mix of black and white musicians Credit: The Specials

The 2 Tone sound originated in Coventry’s thriving music scene of the 1970s.

It was founded by The Specials' founder Jerry Dammers, whose music combined elements of Jamaican ska and English punk.

With its diverse make up of black and white musicians, it was seen at the time as a way of diffusing racial tensions in Britain.

The exhibition will feature the stories of the bands that were part of the label, focussing on The Specials and The Selecter, both formed in Coventry, and other ska-influenced bands such as Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers.

2 Tone started a fashion movement that featured Harrington jackets and pork pie hats.

The new exhibition also promises to provide an immersive experience that will explore the unique cultural and fashion movement created by 2 Tone.

Fashion items and memorabilia on display will include the iconic 2 Tone suit, Roddy Radiation’s pork pie hat, Fred Perry polo shirt and the Harrington jacket.

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is currently closed because of the lockdown

2 Tone: Lives & Legacies is due to open on May 14th.

An online version of the exhibition is currently being set up in case lockdown restrictions prevent the venue from opening in time.

Fans of 2 Tone are being asked to contribute by sending in photos and memorabilia from the era, as well as self-style videos explaining what 2 Tone means to them.

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