Local Coventry, UK Music Scene
The local music scene of Coventry has a history that includes the British ska and Two Tone scene in the 1970s and early 1980s. Frank Ifield was originally from Coventry and went on to be a big recording artist in Australia. Peter Clemon writes about the Coventry music scene and its history. He wrote a column for the Coventry Telegraph called Rock of Ages, documenting the local live music scene. The city has some notoriety in various pop fields, but it mostly known for ska bands such as The Specials and The Selecter.
The first Coventry band to gain attention beyond the region was The Sorrows in the 1960s with a song called "Take a Heart." In the late 70s the city became a haven for ska bands. The Specials had a string of hits including "Ghost Town" in the early 80s about Coventry. By the late 80s Coventry was known for artists such as The Primitives and King. In the 90s it became the first city to allow all night raves, which attracted big name DJs. By 2013 it was back to being a quieter city in terms of band venues.
In the 90s the Adorable has moderate success in the alternative format. Other acts from Coventry that gained attention beyond the region have included The Enemy, Bobbie Clarke, Cathedral, Clint Mansell, Jigsaw, Lee Dorian, Melissa Graham, Terry Hall and Tilt. Jigsaw had a big hit in 1975 called "Sky High." The band was led by Clive Scott, who wrote with co-songwriter/drummer Des Dyer. The songwriting team scored a hit in 1974 with "Who Do You Think You Are." The following year their hit "Sky High" was recorded for the martial arts film The Man from Hong Kong. The song became a worldwide hit on the small label Chelsea Records. The band began to break up in the early 80s.
The Specials also used the name The Special AKA for their hit "(Free) Nelson Mandela" in 1984. The song helped raise awareness about the South African prison who later became president of the country. The Specials formed in 1977 and were leaders in reviving ska music that developed in Jamaica. The band had a string of big hits in the UK from 1979 through 1981. Band leader and founder Jerry Dammers left the band to pursue political activism, although the band reformed without him in 1993.
The Selecter was another 2 Tone band from Coventry who helped popularize British ska in the late 1970s. The band included political songs in their repertoire. The songs were written by Neol Davies and sung by Pauline Black. Like The Specials, they also had a series of hits on the UK charts. The band split up in 1982 but reunited a decade later.