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'2 Tone Lives & Legacies' to include items from Jerry Dammers’ collection

Major exhibition celebrating the 2 Tone sensation opens at Coventry museum, including items from Jerry Dammers’ personal collection

Images © Garry Jones

​The first ever major exhibition in the UK devoted solely to the 2 Tone music sensation opens at Herbert Art Gallery & Museum on Friday, 28 May.

This unmissable, immersive experience focuses on bands, such as The Specials, The Selecter, Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers, as well as looking at 2 Tone’s continuing influence on music, fashion, politics, and culture.

2 Tone: Lives and Legacies explores the formation of the record label and examines its philosophy, political and social message, design and impact on the music charts of the day. The exhibition also includes several major - never before seen - loans from the founder of the 2 Tone label and The Specials, Jerry Dammers.

Many fans know that a key feature of the 2 Tone movement was its strong visual identity, created by Dammers as part of his plan to form a new movement with its own distinctive look and sound.

Dammers contributions to the exhibition include exclusive artworks and films made by him when at art college, photographs, posters, record and label designs, original lyrics for ‘Do Nothing’ written on the back of a gig flyer, and the original lyrics to ‘Ghost Town’, as well as his personal reflections in his own words on the items and their significance.

He said: “I think maybe some of these artworks and films do throw some light on my obsession with records and music, but also on some of the politics and thinking which eventually found its way into The Specials and 2 Tone. They are coming from the same basic socialist perspective, with my concerns about social division, problems and injustices, leading to violence and deprivation.”

The exhibition also includes brand new interviews and quotes from original band members and 3rd wave bands from around the world, famous fans and 2 Tone fanatics, as well as showcasing iconic items, such as the 2 Tone suit, Neville Staple’s and Pauline Black’s pork pie hats, Fred Perry polo shirt and the Harrington jacket.

Visitors can expect impactful photographs of the bands and fans from Mark Osborne, Toni Tye, Chalkie Davies, and John Coles, as well as three newly commissioned artworks.

The show will culminate in a musical 2 Tone experience celebrating the energy and legendary sound of the bands' performances, including a special playlist and an area for visitors to leave their own memories, thoughts, and highlights of the 2 Tone era.

Book your FREE tickets 

2 Tone: Lives & Legacies has been organised in partnership with Coventry Music Museum. Guest curators: Simon Reynolds, Cory Barrett, Pete Chambers, Jennifer Otter Bickerdike and Daniel Rachel.