Trojan soldiers on


By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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The Jamaica Observer continues its reflection on the year in entertainment. This daily column looks on the achievers, trendsetters, those who died, and the controversies.

IN the age of digital downloads, millennials find it difficult to imagine there were once record companies where people worked around the clock to sell music and make artistes look good. One such company was Trojan Records, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

The reggae label, co-founded in London by Jamaicans Lee Gopthal and Chris Blackwell, has never got the acclaim of more storied independent labels like Motown, Stax or Brunswick. This year that changed, as a documentary, book and compact disc were released to commemorate its golden anniversary.

Trojan received the Inspiration Award at the Q Awards in London in October, capping a remarkable year. Several persons who were involved with the company during its heyday attended, including music producer Bunny Lee, marketing man Anthony “Chips” Richards, and singer Dave Barker.

“Trojan was there from the start an' did a lot for reggae not only in England but Europe an' Japan. They did great work an' are still doing great work,” said the 77-year-old Lee.

The prolific Lee produced many of the songs Trojan distributed in the United Kingdom. These songs were hits in Jamaica and broke through in the UK thanks to slick marketing by agents like Richards who was born in west Kingston.

Slim Smith's Everybody Needs Love, Stick By Me (John Holt), Better Must Come (Delroy Wilson) and Move Outa Babylon by Johnny Clarke were some of the productions from Lee's Striker label that Trojan released in the UK.

Richards, who joined Trojan in 1972, was pivotal in Ken Boothe's Everything I Own reaching number one on the UK national chart in 1974. Barker sang lead on Double Barrel, Trojan's first number one song three years earlier.

Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records, is the Trojan documentary that premiered on October 12 at the London Film Festival. The True Story of Trojan Records by British writer Laurence Cane-Honeysett, was released in July.

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