The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2 Tone and ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry. Their music combines a "danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude". Lyrically they present a "more focused and informed political and social stance" than most other ska groups. The band wore mod-style "1960s period rude boy outfits (pork pie hats, tonic and mohair suits and loafers)". Songwriter/keyboardist Dammers came up with the 2-Tone logo from tracing an old picture of Peter Tosh...one of the original members of Bob Marley's band The Wailers.
Elvis Costello produced The Special's first album. He was the first person to get "Gangsters" played on daytime radio in the UK when he was a guest DJ on Radio One. In 1980, the song "Too Much Too Young", the lead track on their The Special AKA Live! EP, reached No. 1 in the UK. In 1981, the unemployment-themed single "Ghost Town" also hit No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart.
The Specials began at the same time as Rock Against Racism which first organised in 1978. According to Dammers, anti-racism was intrinsic to the formation of the Specials, in that the band was formed with the goal of integrating black and white people. Many years later Dammers stated, "Music gets political when there are new ideas in music, ...punk was innovative, so was ska, and that was why bands such as the Specials and the Clash could be political".