Jamaica gained independence in 1962 to the electrifying soundtrack of ska, no-one foresaw the impact Jamaican music would have on the world. Yet as Jamaica celebrates its 40th anniversary of independence, ‘Reggae’, accompanying the television series, highlights how this Caribbean island with a population half the size of London’s has conquered the world through its music. With interviews and comment from reggae legends and people on the ground, Lloyd Bradley takes up the story from the late 1950s, when sound systems and lawn dances were key to the development of ska. The music travelled overseas with Jamaican musicians and emigres in the 1960s – with performers such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones admitting a debt to Jamaican rhythms – and in 1964 the single ‘My Boy Lollipop’ became an international hit. But it was in the 1970s that reggae exploded into an international phenomenon with the super stardom of Bob Marley, and artists such as Burning Spear and Third World, since when reggae has continued to reinvent itself as a powerful musical and cultural force. As he charts the development of reggae Lloyd pays tribute to musicians, performers, producers, deejays and fans, revealing that above all it is the indomitable Jamaican spirit that has driven the development of the music – its tireless reinvention from ska to rock steady, reggae to roots to the new roots and dancehall of today. The vibrancy of this spirit is also expressed in over 50 stunning new photographs by Dennis Morris, featuring reggae legends, the streets of Jamaica and the raw energy of the dancehall. With 60 images drawn from 40 years of Jamaican music – including many from Dennis’s extensive archive – ‘Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music’ is a celebration of an inspiring country and its music.
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