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Don Letts

by <object object at 0x7f2b4e871580> last modified 02/11/2022 11:12 AM

As part of our in house programme, Trinity Presents we welcome Gardna (Fr 14 Oct) who will be joining forces legendary reggae and punk veteran Don Letts.

Trinity's history has long been part of the cultural crossover of punk and reggae scenes which emerged in the late 1970s. Letts was instrumental in introducing reggae and dub sounds to the punk scene at the time. Given this rich history that we both share, we wanted to reflect on some of the key moments in Don Letts career.

  • Don Letts was deeply inspired by the roots reggae from his parents' homeland in Jamaica, in particular the anti-establishment message of Bob Marley. After seeing Marley play the Odeon in Hammersmith in 1976, Letts snuck into Marley's hotel room and spent the night talking and befriending him.
"By 1977, the white teenage youths in London were looking for a new soundtrack and punk rock exploded on the scene. Problem was, this was so early in the scene, there were no punk records to play. So I'm spinning what I like, heavy dub reggae, and the punks were loving it. They dug the whole anti-establishment rebel vibe" - Don Letts
  • During the 1970s, Don Letts rose to prominence as a resident DJ of The Roxy, a nightclub in London's Covent Garden. While The Roxy was known for being a hub for the punk scene that was growing in popularity at the time, Letts' sets at the venue featured mostly dub and reggae records.
  • Letts recognised the natural similarities between punk and reggae, particularly in their shared, anti-establishment message, creating a crossover between the two cultures. Bands like The Clash were one of the first groups to incorporate elements of reggae music into their sound, seen most clearly through their cover of Junior Murvin's 1976 classic 'Police and Thieves'.
  • Developing close relationships with punk bands such as Sex Pistols and The Clash led Letts onto creating films based around the punk scene at the time. Letts became the unofficial documenter of the scene, creating 'The Punk Rock Movie', mostly compiled from Super 8mm footage shot of live performances at The Roxy.
  • Since then, Letts has gone on to direct over 300 music videos for a range of artists including Bob Marley, The Psychedelic Furs, Elvis Costello and long-time collaborators The Clash.
  • Don Letts' life story was recently told in a documentary 'Rebel Dread', released earlier in 2022, featuring extensive footage from Lett's personal archive of videos.

Letts has continued to DJ throughout his career, and has been a regular feature on lineups across Bristol and the West. Don Letts will join Gardna at Trinity on 14 Oct for Trinity Presents: Gardna + Friends. Make sure to head down to catch this legend of the UK music scene (and his extensive vinyl collection) in action. Click here to get your tickets.


About Trinity Presents:

Gardna + Friends is part of Trinity Presents - our in-house programme of music, bringing world-class artists and emerging talent to inner-city audiences.

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