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Toni Tye’s 2 Tone images on show at the Herbert for the final time

Originating in Coventry, the 2 Tone phenomenon transformed the British music scene of the 1970s.  

Images © Toni Tye

‘2 Tone: Lives & Legacies’ documents the UK ska-pop sound, stars including The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness, as well as looking at 2 Tone’s continuing influence on music, fashion, politics and culture.  

The unmissable, immersive experience features high-energy images by self-taught documentary film maker and photographer Toni Tye who was invited to shoot stills for the movie ‘Dance Craze’ and to contribute to a photo book in 1980.  

After being introduced to the creator of Dance Craze, Jo Mark, she was given an ‘All Areas pass’ and asked to shoot at the rehearsals and gigs of The Body Snatchers, The Selecter, Madness and Bad Manners on tour in Hemel Hempstead, Lewisham Odeon, Electric Ballroom, Wembley, Coventry, Aylesbury, Sunderland and Shepperton Studios.   

Even though Toni was living in the Midlands at the time, she was not familiar with the 2 Tone scene. However, at a time of racial unrest, she could feel that this music was raw energy from the city streets – punks, mods, skins and ska morphed with the collaboration of young musicians.  

Some of her photographs depict the bands on stage, but Toni preferred to focus her camera on the unique scene; the kids, the fashions and some great skanking. Toni mostly caught the bands relaxing backstage, in dressing rooms, through the lens of her Olympus camera.  

As the scene was moving on in 1981 a fanzine was printed, and the documentary film premiered in her absence. Unfortunately, all of Toni’s black and white negatives and colour transparencies were lost in the process. Only some shots Toni had printed for herself and rough contact sheets survived, forgotten for decades. 


In 2005, the '3 Men + Black' acoustic reunion tour came to Brighton where Toni was studying physiotherapy at the time. Toni saw a poster and got in touch with Pauline Black, Rhoda Dakar, Roddy Radiation and some of the fans after their gig to share some of her original prints. They really encouraged her to do something with her photographic archive for both fans and bands. 

Toni Tye spent hours editing the old contact sheets, which resulted in thirty-three iconic works which are on display at the exhibition for the very last time, while 100s of images remain lost. Today, her preferred method of capturing images and videos is digital.  

If you have ever come across the images, contact sheets, negatives or other material Toni Tye might have produced for 'Move Realm's Special Two Tone' or ‘Dance Craze’, please get in touch with her via, or the Herbert via  

‘2 Tone: Lives & Legacies’ is first-ever major exhibition in the UK devoted to the 2 Tone music sensation - it will open on the 28 May and run until 12 September 2021 at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.  

The exhibition has been organised in partnership with Coventry Music Museum. Guest curators: Simon Reynolds, Cory Barrett, Pete Chambers, Jennifer Otter Bickerdike and Daniel Rachel.