Celebrate 45 years of 'life-changing' 2-Tone at the Coventry Music Museum

The 2-Tone Village on Walsgrave Road
The 2-Tone Village on Walsgrave Road -Credit:CoventryLive

May the 4th may conjure up Star Wars, but it’s also the date when 2-Tone officially became an entity back in 1979. Now forty-five years on, we are marking this special anniversary at the Coventry Music Museum at the 2-Tone Village.

If 1979 took you by surprise then 2024 must be something of an epiphany to realise that the musical phenomenon we call 2-Tone is not only still a thing, but continues to have a huge resonance and legitimacy in these often worrying times. The history of this infectious sound that copies from Ska and steals from Punk has been well documented down the ages.

If you are reading this you will no doubt be well acquainted with bands like The Specials, The Selecter, Madness and The Beat. They all had a hand in changing our lives, they taught us to dance (or at least try to) they gave us a beat that was ours and they oh so gently worked their sociopolitical views on us to make us better people.

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The male skinhead hairstyle is no longer an option to us elders, just a way of life now, but the Walt Jabsco Tattoos remain a totem to a sweet indulgence that has been and will always remain a life choice. They may have faded over the years like the leather on those cherry red DMs, but we can all recall where and when they were first created and what the musical soundtrack was at the time.

For more than 10 years the 2-Tone Village and the Coventry Music Museum have been actively celebrating local music in all its forms. Now, as we reach 45 years of 2-Tone as a major musical genre and a beautiful way of life, you best believe we will be here to tell our visitors all about it.

The Specials, seen here in Coventry in November 1979, were at the heart of the 2-Tone music scene
The Specials, seen here in Coventry in November 1979, were at the heart of the 2-Tone music scene -Credit:Mirrorpix

So we have created a short trail that begins in the museum and ends at Knights Venue and tells the story of 2-Tone in 10 objects. Guests can check out our 45 years of 2-Tone in 10 objects in a short trail around the museum that ends at Knights.

There, visitors will see a very special display of the actual custom stage placards as seen famously at the Coventry Cathedral gig. You can also submit your own top ten selection and enjoy some sounds and some visuals.

Start in the museum and look for the 10 iconic objects we have specially selected to tell the story of 2-Tone at 45. The last item of the trail is located in Knights Venue and takes us up to the latter set of live gigs of the Specials that included Coventry Cathedral.

The Selecter with Pauline Black
on stage at the Godiva Festival 2023
The Selecter with Pauline Black on stage at the Godiva Festival 2023 -Credit:CoventryLive

Our selection looks like this: 1. Gangsters Vs Selecter Single, 2. Jerry Dammers’ suit, 3. Mantovani/Swinging Cats Single, 4. BBC official No 1 award/Specials/Encore, 5. The Ghost Town Organ, 6. Ranking Roger’s hat, 7. Madness skinny tie, 8. Selecter hand-written lyrics to “On My Radio”, 9. Pauline Black’s sheepskin coat and 10. Specials concert placards. Now what is your top 10?

Later on Saturday, May 4, there will be a Sounding Off special with John Mostyn - Music Manager,and Beat Manager, from 12noon until 1pm. I will be asking the questions, and normal museum admission applies.

On Sunday, May 5, there is another Sounding Off special this time with Pete Shells, former Specials road crew, from 12noon until 1pm. Normal museum admission applies; there will also be a chance to win a very special signed T-shirt.