The Beat (known as the English Beat in North America) formed in 1978, were one of the forerunners of the English ska revival. The multiracial band had a distinctly Jamaican sound thanks in part to Jamaican born saxophonist, Lionel Martin who performed with Prince Buster, Laurel Aitken, and Desmond Dekker during the first wave of ska. The English Beat disbanded in 1983.
Formed in 1976 in London, the Madness were early pioneers of the Two-Tone ska revival. They released several singles on Jerry Dammer’s Two-Tone label before leaving to form their own record label – Stiff Records. After the ska wave had passed, the Madness continued to perform but changed their sound to pop and new wave. They disbanded in 1986.
The Selecter were a Two-Tone ska revival band that formed in Coventry, England in 1979. They featured a racially mixed line-up and were fronted by Pauline Black, one of the few female ska musicians of the time. The band recorded on Jerry Dammer’s Two-Tone label before signing with Chrysalis. The Selecter disbanded in 1982 at the tail end of the Two-Tone movement.
The Specials formed in Coventry, England in 1978 by Terry Hall (lead vocals), Neville Staples (vocals and percussion), Lynvall Goulding (electric guitar and vocals), John Bradbury (drums), Jerry Dammers (keyboards), Roddy Radiation (electric guitar) and Horace Gentleman (bass guitar). They are credited with launching the second ska revival the lasted for roughly 3 years. The group’s lyrics were overtly political and reflected the struggles facing the British working class at the time.
Hall, Staples, and Goulding left the band in 1981 to form the new wave band, Fun Boy Three. The remaining members of the Specials continued to perform until 1984 when they officially disbanded
Keyboardist Jerry Dammers founded the Two-Tone record label that specialized in the distribution of ska music. The label was so influential that its name (Two-Tone; named after a black and white checkerboard pattern) was attached to the movement itself.
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