Rodigan goes on record

Observer senior writer

Thursday, November 22, 2018

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THE colourful career of British broadcaster and sound system maestro David Rodigan, as well as the history of Jamaican music in the United Kingdom, are the focus of David Rodigan: Reggae Fever, a documentary that aired last Friday on BBC Four Television.

British company Somethin' Else produced the hour-long project looking at Rodigan's 40-year career, which included groundbreaking stops at at the British Broadcasting Corporation and Capital Radio.

There are interviews with reggae/punk authority Don Letts, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, musician/actor Goldie, Brinsley Forde of Aswad, and lovers' rock pioneer Dennis Bovell. Rodigan also revisits the area where he met Bob Marley in 1973.

David Rodigan: Reggae Fever is released one year after his reflective Rodigan: My Life In Reggae hit bookshelves in the UK.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, 67-year-old Rodigan pointed out that the documentary is not just about him.

“I think it is a very important film because it traces Jamaican music and sound system culture back to its origins in the West Indies, and how it was brought to the UK in the early '60s and developed here with British sound systems and singers and artistes,” he said. “The film also reflects on what life was like for West Indians when they came to England and what they had to endure.”

Rodigan was born in Germany to British parents in 1951, three years after the Empire Windrush ship brought the first wave of migrant West Indians to the UK. The Jamaicans among them, and who followed, took their music culture to what was then known as the 'Mother Country'.

That included sound systems which played at basement parties and blues dances throughout London, the Midlands, Nottingham and Bristol.

During his shows, Rodigan gives an insight into the early days of the British sound system movement and how it influenced white youth like himself. He also provides tidbits about songs and artistes as he plays.

Rodigan's radio career started at the BBC in 1978. One year later he visited Jamaica for the first time.

He was introduced to Jamaican dancehall fans in the 1980s when he featured in a number of sound system clashes with Disc Jockey Barry “Barry G” Gordon of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

Currently, Rodigan hosts a weekly show BBC Radio 1Xtra.

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