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Ska is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and turned into rocksteady and reggae. It combined Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line and rhythm accented on the offbeat.

In the early 1960s ska was extremely popular in Jamaica and also with British mods. In the late 1960s it became the favourite music of English skinheads. Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three waves: the original Jamaican ska in the 1960s, the 2 Tone revival in England in the late 1970s, and the third wave of ska, started in the late 1980s.

Among the original ska performers and producers in Jamaica were Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid and Prince Buster. Some famous ska bands were Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, The Skatalites and The Wailers.

The 2 Tone version, that combined ska with punk rock, rocksteady and reggae, started in Coventry, when Jerry Dammers, vocalist with The Specials starteda new record label. The 2 Tone movement promoted racial unity at a time of high racial tensions. Artists from this era are Bad Manners, The Beat, The Bodysnatchers, Madness, The Selecter and The Specials.

The third wave of ska started in the USA, influenced by 2 Tone. The first well-known ska band was The Toasters, and among later bands were The Uptones, Operation Ivy, Fishbone, Let's Go Bowling and Bim Skala Bim.