Importing a New Style...

Ska became known briefly in England as "Blue Beat" or "Jamaican Blues." Thus it was an instrumental inspiration for the formation of the Blue Beat record company.

Ska gained popularity in England at first among members of the Mod scene. This acceptance led to the residual association of the small-brimmed trilby hats and scooters with ska music.

The original music of the British skinheads was the music of Jamaica. Indeed, ska music originally arrived in England by way of Jamaican immigrants in the 1960's. The sounds of Jamaican ska music slowly, and steadily, rose in popularity through the working class skinhead. By 1969, the skinhead subculture had taken a firm hold in England, and with it, ska music. Because, at first, skinheads were the primary audience for newly-arrived Jamaican music in England, ska producers and record labels created a new ska style aimed directly at skinheads. Having many of the characteristics of rocksteady, but with more bass and less brass, it quickly became known as skinhead reggae.

The subject of much of this music was the skinhead way of life, just as much of the music a few years earlier had centered around the Jamaican Rude Boy. Thus, by the early 1970's, Rude Boy ideals were being reborn, and expressed in a mixing of reggae and punk by such bands as the Clash, with the song Rudie Can't Fail. (At about the same time that skinheads in England were becoming interested in ska music, Trojan Records was still releasing hits into the UK Top 10. This was to continue as late as 1969 or 1970. By that time, however, the popularity of ska music was already waning in Jamaica, as rocksteady and reggae gained in popularity.)

Walt Jabsco photo inspired by photograph of Peter ToshThe fact that a late-50's/early-60's music from Jamaica could flourish as it did in late-1970's England is a tribute to the United Kingdom's melting pot. Post-war labor shortages and unrestricted entry among Commonwealth countries had encouraged West Indian immigration to England through the 1950's. By 1962, when legislation was carried out to put a stop to this, England had already experienced its first race riots. The spread of new musical styles and a growing taste for them, however, had already taken place.

Like Prince Buster in the 1960's, it was Jerry Dammers' desire to create something new. Black and white would come together and become a symbol for 2Tone ska. The 2Tone logo of a man wearing a black suit, white shirt, black tie, sunglasses, pork pie hat, white socks and black loafers became the official logo for the record label, the character being named Walt Jabsco (Walt, after Walt Disney). The drawing, done by Jerry Dammers, was based upon an early picture of Peter Tosh, with the Wailers, as seen on the cover of the Wailing Wailers Studio 1 release.

Let's read about how 2Tone actually came to be...