Bob Marley was born 73 years ago today — and to mark the occasion, DJ, reggae historian and all-round music icon Don Letts has released a new edition of his Reggae 45 podcast.
Following on from the four episodes of his 2017 Reggae 45 series (in the Sunday Times’ top 50 podcasts of the year), Letts has teamed up with journalist and broadcaster Chris Salewicz, to discuss the life of reggae’s greatest figurehead.
Both Letts and Salewicz were friends of Marley who were allowed into his inner circle during the rise of reggae in the 1970s.
Letts is maybe best known as the middleman between punk and reggae in London in the mid-70s. He managed the clothes store Acme Attractions which doubled as a hangout for the punk kids — then started throwing on hardcore reggae when he was DJing at the Roxy.
He helped document the punk and reggae scenes with a series of documentaries and promos, and his 1997 feature Dancehall Queen has become the most popular Jamaican film of all time.
Chris Salewicz forged his friendship with Marley when he was a senior features writer during the glory years of NME, from 1975-81. This led to his book Bob Marley (The Untold Story).
Chris and Don have also worked together on several projects — even moving to Jamaica for two years to develop film ideas.
Speaking of the new podcast, Salewicz said: “Don Letts and I have an extremely long history of working together that is only exceeded by the length of time since we each first encountered Bob Marley. To come together on a project about Bob is an absolute honour and a blessing: it’s really exciting to be involved in this podcast about the man who was one of the very greatest artists of the twentieth century.”
Letts’ new podcast follows his four-part series last year on the history of reggae, commissioned by UK-based Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay. Find the Marley episode and all the others on iTunes or Turtlebay.co.uk.
I caught up with Don Letts last year for an extended interview on the podcast series and his role in reggae — along with a few stories about Marley himself. Check it out here.