The story of 2 Tone back in print to celebrate a movement in the spotlight

A best-selling book that charts the rise of Coventry’s 2 Tone movement in the 1970s is back in print to mark the genre’s 40thanniversary and a new album from the city’s own Specials.

Ruth Cherrington’s ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Coventry’ tells the story of the 2 Tone revolution rising from the ashes of an era blighted by industrial strife and racial tension. It comes hot on the heels of her ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1980s Coventry’ which was launched to critical acclaim in autumn 2019 and is packed full of information about the local music explosion in the era that was started by the success of Two Tone.

Coventry's all-conquering Specials in the late 1970s stood outside their favourite Parson's Nose chippy

The Specials outside the Parson’s Nose chippy

She said: “The city’s 2 Tone revolution challenged the stereotypes of the era and provided a new fashion trend that had ‘made in Coventry’ stamped all over it. Sta-press trousers called time on flares and vertigo-inducing platforms were replaced by ox-blood Dr Marten boots.”

Her ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Coventry’ traces the development of the area’s music and nightlife from the early days of the legendary Locarno Ballroom where rookie DJ and future music mogul Pete Waterman spun the discs at the matinee disco. It features venues like Mr George’s which was pivotel to the rise of the movement and provided a stage for some of the earliest gigs.

The book is full of rare photos of bands like The Specials and memories of their earlier gigs.

Coventry band The Specials performing in the late 1970s with Terry Hall on vocals

Terry Hall and the Specials performing in the late 1970s

Coventry-born Ruth Cherrington – who wrote the acclaimed ‘Not Just Beer and Bingo! A Social History of Working Men’s Clubs’ – admits researching the book was a labour of love.

She said: “It was a fantastic era to grow up in. The sheer volume and variety of venues totally dwarves the number of today – everything from thriving Working Men’s Clubs to legendary record shops like Jill Hanson’s.”

The decade wasn’t kind to Coventry – the collapse of the car industry dealt a crippling body blow to the city.

But the 2 Tone explosion provided a welcome distraction with The Specials and the Selecter providing the soundtrack to a generation.

The ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Coventry’ is available from and all good book shops. It retails for £13.95.

Ruth launched the follow-up – the ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1980s Coventry’ – in October 2018.



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