Lloyd Coxsone is a veteran and pioneering sound system operator who migrated from Jamaica to England in 1962 and founded Sir Coxsone Outernational Sound System. In this interview he made some statements about David Rodigan who is a white English DJ who came to fame playing Jamaican music on British radio and then as a sound system selector.
One of the allegations that Coxsone made is that Rodigan proclaimed himself godfather of reggae music. I went on Rodigan’s Facebook page and in a statement about the issue, he said he had never said any such thing and in my research on the internet I have found no evidence of such.
I had known of Rodigan for more than 30 years having listened to his link ups with local DJ Barry Gordon (Barry G) but in light of the things that Coxsone said, I decided to delve further into Rodigan’s background.
Rodigan has been a fan of Jamaican music since Millie Small’s 1964 hit “My Boy Lollipop”. He played reggae music at house parties as a teenager. He applied reluctantly for a position playing reggae on Radio London only being convinced to do so by his then girlfriend. He was the only white person who auditioned and was told that by the producer how impressed he was with his knowledge of Jamaican music. He was however turned down because of his skin colour. Rodigan’s response “I perfectly understand.” It is when others in the business not knowing the colour of Rodigan’s skin heard his audition tape insisted that he be hired. He was then hired on a rotating basis with three others.
I have listened to Rodigan and the passion and knowledge about Jamaican music vastly supersedes many Jamaicans. He is always paying tribute to those who produce the music. It is on the basis of this that he has won numerous sound system clashes. Courtesy of You Tube, I have watched him and found him to be highly entertaining, even more than other sound system selectors who endlessly shout profanities and homophobic comments in the name of entertainment.
On the basis of the above I strongly disagree with the things that Coxsone said about Rodigan. What Coxsone is angry about is the lack of recognition for the valuable contributions of sound system operators in the U.K. and I can understand. However, venting his anger at Rodigan is not the answer.
The lack of recognition speaks to the lack of documentation that is unfortunately a profound weakness in Jamaican culture. The painful reality is that I have long known who David Rodigan is but before this, I didn’t know who Lloyd Coxsone is.
If Coxsone wants sound system operators to gain greater recognition then his colleagues and himself need to do alot more done in recording their accomplishments on the many platforms that are so easily available so more people can become aware of them.
(c) A. Pierre Sobers