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2 Tone: Lives & Legacies

This exhibition has now closed. But you can explore an online recreation at the link below.


Click here to visit 2 Tone: Lives & Legacies


2 Tone: Lives & Legacies is the first-ever major exhibition in the UK devoted to the 2 Tone music sensation

The 2 Tone sound originated in Coventry’s thriving music scene of the 1970s and the name derives from the legendary 2 Tone record label founded in 1979 by Jerry Dammers of The Specials, referencing a desire to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Britain at that time.

The exhibition 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. It highlights the bands that were part of the label, focussing on The Specials, The Selecter and other ska-influenced bands such as Madness, The Beat and The Bodysnatchers.

It will look at 2 Tone’s continuing influence on music, fashion, politics and culture. It will include interviews and quotes from original band members and 3rd wave bands from around the world, famous fans and 2 Tone fanatics. It will also bring the story up to date - with band members touring nationally and internationally.

The exhibition will feature fashion items and memorabilia, including the iconic 2 Tone suit, Roddy Radiation’s pork pie hat, Fred Perry polo shirt and the Harrington jacket.

Please note that due to the popularity of the exhibition you may be asked to wait for a short time before entering the galleries as we manage capacity.


Weekend Visits

Due to the popularity of the 2 Tone exhibition, we have decided to reimplement pre-booked tickets for 2 Tone: Lives & Legacies at WEEKENDS ONLY from Saturday 21 August. Walk up tickets will still be available, but extremely limited, so we recommend booking in advance of your visit.

Book your weekend tickets here



Images: © Toni Tye

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

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.

Featuring: Jerry Dammers, Neol Davies, Pauline Black, Rhoda Dakar, Chalkie Davies, John Coles, John 'Teflon' Sims, Stewart Francis Easton, Duncan Whitley, Horace Panter, Lynval Golding, Neville Staple, Maff, Compton Amanor, Suggs and Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy), David Steele and Everett Morton, Miranda Joyce, Don Letts, Dave Kirchgessner, Rick Rocklewitz, Scott Klopfenstein, Charley Anderson and Mark Osborne.


Tickets required at weekends


Can't visit the Herbert? Why not explore the 2 Tone: Lives & Legacies online exhibition instead.

Click here to view a 3D scan of the exhibition, watch artist interviews and see object highlights.