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2 Tone: Lives & Legacies

2 Tone: Lives & Legacies is the first-ever major exhibition in the UK devoted to the 2 Tone music sensation - it will open on the 14 May and run until 12 September 2021.

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.



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.

If you are a 2 Tone fan, please share your favourite 2 Tone memories, photos and videos with us by emailing them to by Sunday 14 March for a chance to feature within the exhibition.

We are asking for members of the public to send us photographs of people taken inside or outside Coventry pubs and clubs from the late 70s & early 80s. We want to spotlight the many bands across the world that play 2 Tone and Ska inspired music. We would love to receive photographs, videos and comments on these groups sent to us from their fans. We would also be delighted to receive your ‘selfie-style’ video clips (portrait orientation) telling us ‘What 2 Tone means to you’..

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: Neol Davies, Pauline Black, Rhoda Dakar, Chalkie Davies, John 'Teflon' Sims, Stewart Francis Easton, Duncan Whitely, Horace Panter, Lynval Golding, Neville Staple and Charley Anderson.

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Email or call us on 024 7623 7521.

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