Cultural Renaissance Man Don Letts Subject to New Documentary

Throughout his phenomenal career dating back to the 1970s, the London-born Don Letts DJ, filmmaker, music video director, longtime member of The Clash, member of the Big Audio Dynamite Band, cultural commentator, author and radio show host. But for all of his achievements and Renaissance ethos, one role Letts has yet to fully embrace is as the subject of a new film documentary. rebel terror.

“I’ve been working in the shadows all my life,” Letts, 66, said during a recent visit to New York City. So when the spotlight hit me directly, I writhed for quite some time. No, I have to admit.

Those familiar with Lett’s history will probably disagree with that assessment. rebel terror documentary, Directed by William Basiley and produced by Phil Hunt and Mark Vennis, the book traces Letts’ life with interviews with himself and his contemporaries and admirers. John Lydon of the Sex Pistols. Leo Williams and Greg Roberts of Big Audio Dynamite. British music journalists Chris Salewitz and Vivian Goldman. The film recently became available for streaming his rental and purchase in North America after screening/Q&A events in New York and Los Angeles.

Letts, who famously combined British punk and reggae in the 1970s, said, “My only talent, as far as I know, is good taste.” [of making the film] It gives meaning to my work and is rewarding. “

son of Jamaican parents who arrived in England as immigrants In the mid-1950s, Letts developed serious cultural and stylistic tastes at a young age. And in England we turned it into an art form, and in the late 20th century there was a proliferation of style-driven subcultures, yeah, it’s very important in England, especially for the working class, and I is part of that generation.”

In addition to reggae, Letts found himself exposed to R&B music and rock acts such as James Brown and The Who. As he explained in the documentary, music is life’s panacea. “The reason it was so important is because it was also the only alternative form of information and inspiration. You have to understand: I was a black kid growing up in a public flat in Brixton. Music was the only thing that transported me to places I could never reach, that’s how I traveled back then, via a transistor radio, without a doubt, music was a big part of who I was. increase.”

At a young age, Letts met Malcolm McLaren, who later became the manager of the Sex Pistols, and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. sex“I met Malcolm three or four years before the term punkout hit the screen. It was Malcolm who made me understand. If I had enough courage and enough motivation, I could be a part of it. It was Malcolm who really put the seed of the idea in my head.

While running a trendy and popular clothing store in London, Things to do in Acme With Janet Leigh, Letts immersed themselves in the punk rock scene. In 1977, he became the resident DJ at the Roxy club, where the soon-to-be-famous punk act played. Most importantly, he had the foresight to capture their performances on a Super 8 camera, starting his film career with a 1978 documentary. punk rock movies“At the time, all things DIY were exploding. That was punk rock’s greatest gift: ‘do it yourself.’ All my white friends play guitar, and I want to play something too. Inspired by watching a movie called A few years ago, I picked up a Super 8 camera. The Hard They ComeI had a dream to express myself through a visual medium. But back then, it was an old white boys network.

“And punk comes with a DIY ethic. He had good taste, as he shot The Clash, The Pistols, The Slits, The Buzzcocks, The Subway Sect, Susie And The Banshees, and all the reggae stuff that got me excited.By default, it captures all of punky reggae. But this is a bit of a myth and mystery, but for a while it was real as Bob [Marley] I sang the song “Punky Reggae Party”.

Letts befriended members of the punk rock scene, most notably The Clash (he later directed a documentary about the band in 2000. Westway to the World). “It started with style and music,” he says of how the two connected. ’ That’s how we communicated back then. You may have seen mixtapes or my style. What brought us together was our mutual love for Jamaican music. That was the common denominator. [Clash bassist] Paul Simonon was actually a skinhead.now when i say skin headI have to qualify this: in the old days we were talking about the fashion version, fascist Version from the 70’s. In the late 60s, Skinhead was something of a mashup of white working-class mod his style and Jamaican rude his boy his style, that he was a mix of the two. “

As rebel terror Let’s have played a pivotal role in uniting the seemingly disparate worlds of British punk rock and reggae. “At some point in my life, if something spoke to me, I decided to raise my hand and acknowledge it. I wasn’t happy.No, if a Led Zeppelin riff speaks to me, I’m digging into Led Zeppelin.I’ve always been.It’s all these different things that make the world run. It’s like a juxtaposition of cultures.

“We were like-minded rebels. We were outsiders. People often say, ‘What did punk get from reggae? ‘” What punk took from reggae was the bass line, heard on Crash Tunes, Slits Tunes and later Public Image Ltd. On the flip side of the coin, people are saying, “What did reggae get out of it?” And what reggae got was exposure. Brothers and sisters can do the rest themselves, so that’s enough. It was behind the explosion of punk rock that reggae entered the international arena. “

Letts initially admitted he never pursued a career in music, but co-founded Big Audio Dynamite with Mick Jones in 1984 after Jones left The Clash. From the release of the debut album in 1985 this is big audio dynamite And the single “E=MC2”, Big Audio Dynamite, was ahead of its time, fusing influences from rock, electronic and dance music.

“Mick Jones twisted my arm and with the help of a bunch of colored stickers on my keyboard. I spent eight proud years with Big Audio Dynamite. You know, I We were known to do samples and whole conversations, because we couldn’t play with anything.As I said before, it’s very important to justify the space you take up, otherwise you’ll end up in your luggage. So I couldn’t play it, so I’m doing that sample and dialogue thing, I focused on writing the lyrics and ended up co-writing 50% of the song with Mick. The culture clashes, the Jamaican basslines, the New York beats, Mick’s rock’n’roll guitar, and the samples and dialogue are all so cool.”

rebel terror Also, the 1984 video “Round and Round” by The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Musical Youth, and most notably the unlikely American heavy metal band Ratt, features a comedy Legendary Milton Berle makes a cameo appearance.

“I lived in Los Angeles and worked for a company called Limelight,” he says. “Every week, different band names need videos.I found out by chance that [their manager] Had an affair with Milton BerleNow I’m old enough to realize that Milton Berle was old school Hollywood that no longer exists. Like I said, I took the gig. Honestly, that’s the only reason I did it. The interesting part is when you made the video. [Ratt] I was touring with Motley Crue. A video was released midway through the tour, and the explosion forced them to change the line-up, and Motley Crue ended up supporting them.”

These days, Letts continues to deejay. Host a BBC Radio 6 showin 2021 he will publish a memoir There and Black AgainBut that’s not all. Next year, Lets is planning a release. outer sink, his first solo album.As rebel terror Letts has effectively documented everything he’s done in the last 50 years and is still ambitious for new creative endeavors.

“One more thing while making this movie was, ‘Why can’t I just sit still?’ And when I’m talking about “real,” I’m talking about emotional or psychological. So I came to the conclusion that I’m probably not an adaptable person, but by being creative I turned what was perceived as a negative into a positive. enough. “

rebel terrorhas already been released in the UK and is now available for streaming in North America.Click here for movie information website.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidchiu/2022/11/03/cultural-renaissance-man-don-letts–is-the-subject-of-a-new-documentary/ Cultural Renaissance Man Don Letts Subject to New Documentary

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