A FEW THOUGHTS ON: LEGENDARY UK SOUND MAN LLOYDIE COXSONE TALKS REGGAE MUSIC & DAVID RODIGAN

A FEW THOUGHTS ON: LEGENDARY UK SOUND MAN LLOYDIE COXSONE TALKS REGGAE MUSIC & DAVID RODIGAN

First of all I’m not getting into a debate about this interview with Lloydie and his views on Rodigan… so I’m just going to say this once.

In my life as a writer and a devotee of reggae music I consider Lloydie Coxsone as one of my mentors. Coxsone sound system was the first big Sound that I heard back in the early Seventies. The place was the Jamaican Club in Gloucester and it blew my mind. Lloyd was the first person from the reggae music community that I interviewed. I was a follower (along with photographer Jean Bernard Sohiez aka Frenchie) of Coxsone sound system. We knew the team and understood the runnings – good and bad – having travelled with the sound numerous times. In fact, the words under this video look like my own.

I’ve read David Rodigan’s book and I suppose I’ve contributed to the media frenzy around it by reviewing it. You can read the review at https://ancienttofuture.com/2017/02/20/david-rodigan-a-life-in-reggae-roddy-you-a-dubwise-smody/. The book is a lightweight affair that makes no real attempt to contextualise reggae music in the UK. It’s a book about the man himself. As such, I can totally understand why Lloydie – “representing 500+ sound system across the UK”- is more that vexed that “David Run’n’gwaan” has been touted as the godfather of reggae music in the UK. There’s no escaping the fact that the media – National TV, “quality” newspapers, music press, internet – the whole shebang – have been totally at ease promoting a somewhat offbeat white thespian as a saviour of reggae music while ignoring the people who ran the reggae record shops, indie labels and, of course, the underground sound system operators who toured the length and breadth of the country, week in and week out, from the 60s onward. They are the saviours of reggae music. They created the foundation that others profited from.

It’s therefore easy to understand that, from Lloydie Coxsone and his idren’s perspective, all the hubbub and press that surrounded the publication of Rodigan’s book is just another instance of life in racist Britain. Once again the Afro Caribbean people who actually created the music and promoted it within their community and way beyond it beyond are being written out of UK history – a history which should inform future generations and provide a basis for them to build on. Lloydie Coxsone’s own history says it all. He arrived in London from Jamaica in the early Sixties. He worked on the Underground and saved to buy his first amp. He worked for Count Suckle at the legendary Roaring Twenties in Carnaby Street and he went on create a cup winning sound system that was indeed the benchmark against all others were judged. Reggae music and Sound System are his life. For decades he dedicated himself to promoting and introducing generation after generation of Jamaican artists. How many amazing voices, lyrics, tunes, dubs… has Coxsone Outernational sound system introduced? Countless!

As Coxsone himself would say “a life in Sound System is hard” and, while there is increasing recognition of the role of Sound System in shaping UK culture today, the real story has yet to be told. Personally, I have no problem with David Rodigan. He is a knowledgeable and affable guy who, despite his somewhat offbeat theatrical antics in rarified world of international sound clashes, is primarily a talented broadcaster whose shows on BBC Radio London, Capital and KissFM were limited to the greater London area. So, whenever we talk about the evolution of reggae music in the UK and its pivotal cultural role in shaping the musical genres that hold sway among the youth of today – jungle, drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep, grime – credit needs to be paid to those who, for decades, paved the way.

Ask yourself one question, if a book was published tomorrow portraying Lloydie Coxsone’s Life In Reggae Music & Sound System – a story that shows the evolution of Sound System alongside the music (ska to dancehall) and also offers a deeper insight into the cultural resistance of the Afro Caribbean community and rise of Rastafari in the face of racist attacks and fire bombings, Police and SPG harassment and consistent marginalisation – would Coxsone be feted in the press and invited to talk about it on national TV? I don’t think so. And if that’s the case maybe we all need to reflect on that and ask ourselves, “What role can I play in this struggle for recognition – for truth and rights?”

Lloydie Coxsone – Sound Man

Paul Bradshaw – Straight No Chaser

About Paul Brad

Freelance journalist / Publisher Editor - Straight No Chaser magazine & From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: A History Of The UK Jazz dance Scene by Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove / Music Fan: Interplanetary Sounds: Ancient to Future / Cultural Event Consultant & Activist / Nei Jia practitioner
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12 Responses to A FEW THOUGHTS ON: LEGENDARY UK SOUND MAN LLOYDIE COXSONE TALKS REGGAE MUSIC & DAVID RODIGAN

  1. Chris Salewicz says:

    Good words, Brad! Blessings…

  2. Exactly, well said and right on the button !

  3. falkwun says:

    Great article, having read Rodigans book, I completely agree……more credit to the people who deserve it!!! Saw Coxsone at One Love a few years ago, took the crown at the clash that year….hands down!!!! Thanks

  4. Charles says:

    “The book is a lightweight affair that makes no real attempt to contextualise reggae music in the UK. It’s a book about the man himself”. Of course it’s about “himself”, it’s an autobiography for God’s sake. Your comments on how the mainstream media would treat a Coxsone autobiography are valid, in that he wouldn’t get the same attention. But also consider that the media are self-referential and love to talk about both themselves their own, whether it’s for the purpose of praising or razing. And true to form, you’ve offered a bit of both in your review, replete with as many mentions of yourself as there are of Rodigan.

  5. Colin says:

    Very Bitter and jealous man rodigan is a white English DJ Who plays Reggae music who Black English supported back in the day and now I think Lloyd should have a radio 📻 Show where he can play all the old Dubs to the Nation and all the sound 🔊 back in the day support rodigan today It’s just JahLove 😀 through music 🎶 that’s all 😁

  6. Ras David says:

    Let’s get it straight ; reggae started in Jamaica and the music is as Jamaican as the pope is catholic .
    Reggae has however outgrown its borders and is now a global phenomenom.
    Many people around the world have contributed to the rise and recognition of the music and Rodigan has played a huge part and needs to be recognised . To even suggest that one individual can take credit for everything is absolutely absurd.
    Coxsone is the most respected personality in the uk reggae industry and none can take that from him . No book is enough to eulogise his achievement . What I hate is this petty wrangling and jostling for some meaningless accolade from the mainstream . Reggae does not need this !! We are far bigger than that and I’m ashamed of what’s happening now . Respect to Rodigan and respect to Coxsone . There is more than enough space for all of at the high table of greatness .

  7. An article which is balance in it’s views

  8. Yes Paul. I hope you’re well. In the May issue of The Dub, there is an article about Lloydie Coxsone, entitled THE OLD WARRIOR, that may interest you and your readers. It will go online via Rastaites and Reggaediscography. Looking forward. Salute, Natty Mark. ttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_w3_ISqO3DDdWhxb0lpMnZpOGs/view.

  9. OneEyedJack says:

    Some fair points made here, full credit should always go where it’s due, but to my knowledge DR has never labelled himself the “godfather of reggae music in the U.K.” and nor has he ever encouraged it. That’s the work of lazy journalists and publishers. So quite why is Rodigan getting attacked when the problem stems from a different, and much wider, issue? Big respect to LC but please, let’s see this for what it is. Rodigan released an autobiography and is now getting slammed for things that the media (or, if you like, wider society in general) is wholly responsible for. It might be understandable but that doesn’t make it right.

  10. Angie Dee says:

    Hi Paul. Not sure if you remember me but I remember you. Just stumbled on your website and love the Reggae articles especially those in 2011 about Sound Systems. I’m writing about my life in reggae sound system that I ran for a few years before joining in the pirate radio scene and then legally with Kissfm in 1990. Was the first all female Sound in London during the 80’s. Trying to get hold if a copy of the article about it that Black Echoes published back then. Hope life is treating you well. Warmest. Dj Angie Dee.

    • Paul Brad says:

      Hi Angie,

      Hi Angie… Lovely to hear that you are writing up that piece of history. I got back in touch with photographer/journo Anna Arnone when we did the the Word Sound & Power exhibition back in 2014. She lives in Eastbourne and is currently putting together another book of her photos and extracts from the interviews she did for Echoes. Anna documented the scene in that Saxon Sound / Philip Levi / Smiley Culture era… early dancehall… and she was the one person to document the women – like yourself – involved in Sound. She would have written the piece on your good-self for Echoes. Her email is anna_arnone@yahoo.co.uk. She’s not had an easy time of late, and she’s vexed but resilient and I’m sure she’d love to hear from you. Keep me posted. Best… Paul B

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