Two-tone (or 2 tone) is a genre of British music that fuses traditional ska with musical elements of punk rock. Its name comes from 2 Tone Records, a label founded by Jerry Dammers of the Specials, and references a desire to transcend and defuse racial tensions in Thatcher-era Britain. Although two-tone's mainstream commercial appeal was largely limited to the UK, it influenced the North American ska punk movement (also known as third wave ska) in the 1980s and 1990s.
The two-tone sound was developed by young musicians in Coventry, West Midlands, England who grew up hearing 1960s Jamaican music. They combined influences from ska, reggae and rocksteady with elements of punk rock and new wave. Bands considered part of the genre include the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Beat, Bad Manners, the Bodysnatchers and Akrylykz.
The term was coined by the Specials' keyboard player Jerry Dammers, who--with the assistance of Horace Panter and graphic designer John "Teflon" Sims--created the iconic Walt Jabsco logo (a man in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, pork pie hat, white socks and black loafers) to represent the two-tone genre. The logo was based on an early album cover photo of Peter Tosh, and included an added black-and-white check pattern.
Most of the bands considered to be part of the two-tone genre were signed to 2 Tone Records at some point. Other record labels associated with the two-tone sound were Stiff Records and Go Feet Records. The music was especially popular among skinheads, rudies and some mod revivalists.
On 1 October 2010, the 2-Tone Central museum, cafe and venue opened in the Coventry University Students' Union building, and by August 2011, it was moved to the 2-Tone Village in Stoke, Coventry. It includes exhibition space, the Coventry Music Wall of Fame, a cafe, a gift shop, a Caribbean restaurant and a music venue. Many of the items on display are on loan from members of the Selecter, the Beat and the Specials.