For me, punk still works on a day-to-day basis. It's an ongoing dynamic, and, if you're brave enough and smart enough, you can be part of it. I could have chosen an easy path and followed the herd, which is very much in vogue now. Instead, I revelled in individuality.
Don Letts -The Guardian, Saturday 4 April 2009.
Londoner Don Letts has quite a CV.
As a 19 yr old he was running the clothing store Acme Attractions, which drew in many stars of the proto punk scene. He became a friend of Bob Marley in 1976. When the legendary Roxy club opened, Letts was the first house DJ, and his playlists of reggae had a lasting influence on the punk clientele, particularly The Clash. Letts later appeared on the cover of the Black Market Clash LP (the rasta seemingly facing off a legion of coppers in Brixton). In 1978 he made his first film, The Punk Rock Movie, the most authentic document of the early punk scene.
Letts’s first foray into the music industry itself was a brief spell as manager of The Slits (he got them a supporting slot with The Clash). He was associated with early Basement 5 before they made it on to vinyl and in 1978 recorded an EP, Steel Leg v the Electric Dread, (with Keith Levene, Jah Wobble, and Steel Leg).
In 1984 he teamed up with Mick Jones and former Basement 5 bassist Leo Williams to form Big Audio Dynamite.
As a director he has made videos and documentaries for a diverse range of artists, including Tony Christie, Franz Ferdinand, George Clinton, The Jam, Sun Ra, Gil Scott-Heron, Elvis Costello, Musical Youth, The Pretenders and , of course, The Clash.
About this record: Social Classics Volume 2 - Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown (2001)
On the sleeve: Selected by DJ Don Letts. The soundtrack to London's legendary Roxy Club December '76 - April '77.
Don Letts wasn't the bringer of Reggae. Paul (Simenon) was into reggae, Joe (Strummer) was into reggae and John (Rotten) was into Reggae. They were turning me onto tunes. It wasn’t always the other way around. It was one of the reasons we got on. Don’t forget that early skinheads were into reggae, Trojan and ska. Black music was and will always be rebel music…Both reggae and punk was rebel music.
Don Letts- Punk77 Oct 2005.
Despite this modest assertion there is no underestimating the importance of Don Letts in introducing the punk generation to reggae. What we have here is
a compendium of some of the finest reggae records that were finding their way to London from Jamaica in the early and mid seventies. A great compilation (ideal for the car?)
There’s a good interview with Mr Letts here.