BOOK REVIEW: David Rodigan: My life in Reggae

legend

noun

an extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.

“the man was a living legend

Many, if not most, would have experienced the fantasy of spinning their favourite tracks at a Sold Out Festival or Club packed to the rafters with party goers galore.  The dream of performing for hundreds and thousands of your peers and fans, is one commonly held, and rightly so.

Humour me if you will. Imagine you’re a DJ at Bestival, you’re standing waiting to enter the stage and perform for cold, wet yet eager festival goers. You’re not sure what to play, Reggae, Dubstep, Classic Ska. Now imagine you’re a 60 year old man to boot. You’ve just imagined a regular summer event for David Rodigan. We live in a time where the term Legend is bandied around with any real regard to the correct meaning.

There surely is no doubt that David Rodigan MBE fits the bill. It’s always difficult to review an Autobiography but when Mr Ram Jam announced he was finally going to release the story of his life, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I’m a lifelong fan of the man, also known for his acting career with credits such as Dr Who to his name.  I’ve watched Rodigan for hours on end on stage and online and have always been gripped by his stage presence and persona. You see, Mr Rodigan isn’t your average Reggae DJ and never has been. Born in Hanover, Germany and raised in Oxford, it wouldn’t have escaped you that David is in fact white. Which for a Reggae DJ in the 70’s, 80’s and beyond, wasn’t the norm, in fact it’s because of David that it’s a far more common sight. I have no doubt he would play down that fact but through his tireless broadcasting and  travelling of the world to showcase the music that he loves, Reggae Culture is vastly more prominent in Europe and the wider globe and David Rodigan is an integral piece of the rich tapestry.

His success wasn’t acquired through luck or via a friend in the industry, this life story is the ultimate tale of what tenacity and perseverance can achieve against even the harshest critics. Rodigan is like the David Attenborough of Reggae Music and has played the sound the world over. He will pull out a record and tell you the artist, the year, and where he bought it in a style that keeps you captivated. Whether he’s dressed as a Sikh Taxi Driver or in the sharpest suit you could imagine he is very much the showman. Working on Britain’s Radio London, Capital 95.8, Kiss 100, BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Radio 2 and BFBS Radio for the best part of 40 years he has experienced the struggle to stay current, relevant and also remain true and loyal to himself and the music he treasures and defends so dearly.

Read about chance meetings with Bob Marley and the Wailers, racial abuse on stage in competition and getting so high he was unable to complete a very sought after interview. This book touches on so much of Jamaican culture, heroes and traditions that it’s hard to believe that Rodigan is not from the land of ‘wood and water’. You’ll get the complete history of the man, ranging from why he didn’t like to swim to how the love of live performance nearly took him from this life prematurely. Hear how he went from DJing at his school discos, to competing against Grime’s ‘Boy Better know’ infront of 20,000 fans at Redbull Soundclash, his partnership with Chase and Status and Shy FX and every milestone performance in-between.

I have read many Autobiographies and they usually leave a sour taste in my mouth. Littered with pure fabrication and embellishment merely to get a few extra copies off the shelves. Here I  couldn’t help but believe everything I read, not least because a good chunk of it is documented and easily accessible, but  when a man looks like a gentlemen, acts like a gentlemen, and speaks like a gentlemen, it becomes very hard to see him as anything other than a gentlemen

David Rodigan: My Life in Reggae is an endearing story – and I use the word story carefully, its far-fetched at times but being a white man with a ‘BBC Voice’ while performing in corn and rice fields in Jamaica and beyond is far-fetched in its self. You’ll do well to open Spotify while you read and enjoy a wonderfully immersive educational experience. You won’t be disappointed

David Rodigan

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For over 35 years David Rodigan has been the top dog in the ganja-scented, bass heavy-atmosphere of Britain’s reggae dance-halls. The key to his success has been an unsinkable passion for reggae music, which first took a hold of him as a schoolboy when he heard ska music in the early ’60s.

He developed an obsession with the music of Jamaica that generated an encyclopaedic knowledge of the island’s every artist, every song and every rhythm track.

He plays his unique collection of customised dub plates and classic recordings extensively across Europe, especially in Italy and Germany, and in North America and the West Indies, to loyal reggae fans worldwide.

BOOK

David Rodigan: My life in Reggae was published by published by Constable on 2nd March 2017.

You can purchase a copy of David Rodigan: My Life in Raggae from FoylesWaterstones, or The Book Depository:

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To discover more about Constable Publishing click here

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Review by Michael Prime

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