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TIMELINE – W.I.P.

A second edit of my timeline. This time with some new images. It is still incomplete and full of mistakes .. but It’s coming together.  Any help i can get with dates etc. would be much appreciated.

1970 – Finished University and moved to Jamaica to teach physics at Titchfield School in Port Antonio. My new wife Lynne and I travelled to Jamaica on the SS Begona together with hundreds of Jamaicans returning home to Jamaica.

SS Begona leaves Southampton for Jamaica 1970

I was seasick for half the 3 wk voyage but did rediscover Reggae music in the below decks Shebeen. The Begona was finally broken up for  scrap in 1975 after nearly sinking off the coast of Barbados.

1971 – 1972  Spent every hour of my spare time photographing Jamaica for a Thames and Hudson book “ Babylon on a Thin Wire

Early morning end of party at the First and Last Rum Bar – Port Antonio

1973 – First photographic commission to cover The Rolling Stones “Goats head Soup” recording sessions at Dynamic Sounds studio in Kingston Jamaica. Shot the now famous Charlie Ace’s Swing-a-Ling mobile record store in Kingston Jamaica. Spent the long summer school holidays travelling across the USA by Grayhound bus from Miami to San Francisco with a formative time staying with Rolling Stone writer Robert Greenfield in Carmel the shooting ground of master photographer  Ansel Adams. It was here i really learned how to take photographs. It was the Adams Zone System that inspired me to build a darkroom in Jamaica and finally back in the UK.

Charlie Ace’s Swing-a-Ling mobile record and recording shop and studio – 1973

1974 – Returned to the UK from Jamaica. Freelance photographer for Island Records. Early photo sessions with Toots and Maytals, Eddie Grant and the Equals, Kevin Ayers.

Kevin Ayers

1975 – Freelance for Blackhill Enterprises. The Damned and Roy Harper photo sessions, Abba London concert, Led Zeppelin London concert.  Opened the “Words and Faces” studio in Camden with the late great Finn Costello, Peter Green photo session, Ian Dury with Kilburn and the High Roads. In July it was the iconic Bob Marley concert at London’s Lyceum Theatre.

Live at the Lyceum

1976Ramones first London photosession, The Clash Westway sessions, Pattie Smith and Punk Rock for the NME and Melody Maker, Bob Marley Carlos Place photosession, Steeleye Span, The Stranglers studio session, Devo in Acron Ohio, Returned to Jamaica to cover the violent 1976 elections.

Patti Smith Live at London’s Roundhouse -1976

1977 – published  BABYLON ON A THIN WIRE (Adrian Boot & Michael Thomas ), The Clash Camden and Belfast sessions, The Sex Pistols Oxford street sessions. Blondie live in London, Steel Pulse concert. Back to Jamaica for Island Records. Bob Marley, Lee Perry, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh,  Graham Parker and the Rumour, The Ramones London concert, Bob Marley football match, Roy Harper and Pink Floyd at Abbey Road studios, Generation X at the Marquee, Marc Bolan London concert.

The Clash backstage at London’s Rainbow Theatre – group shot 1977

1978 – Staff photographer at Melody Maker, Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead in Egypt  for the Melody Maker, Fela Kuti in Lagos, First Africa trip to Nigeria and Togo, Rolling Stones in Jamaica, Blondie sessions in the USA,  Peter Tosh Hellshire beach session, Bunny Wailer at home in Hectors river Jamaica, The Jam photo session, Jimmy Pursey for the Melody Maker (cover), Marianne Faithful studio session, Bob Marley Peace concert.

Fela Kuti’s Wives at the Shrine – Lagos 1978

1979 Photographing the NY Punk scene for the Melody Maker, Suicide in New York,  Grace Jones New York rooftop session, Studio 54 NY, Lee Perry “Black Ark” sessions, Goldeneye Jamaica sessions, Bob Marley at Hope Road Kingston, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Ian Dury, The Police, Buzzcocks in Manchester, Set photographer for Countryman film in Jamaica, Dire Straits in the Bahamas, Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones London concert, Tom Petty in San Francisco, Steel Pulse Brixton and Berlin sessions, The Heptones, LKJ and Darcus Howe at Race Today, Bob Marley at Tuff Gong. Third World.

Grace Jones – New York Roof Photosessions – 1979

1980Bruce Springsteen London concert, Marvin Gaye last session, Kiss in Rome, Paul and Linda McCartney, The Runaways, Quadrophenia, Blondie USA, Three Degrees studio session, Kate Bush,  early U2 concert and Bruce Springsteen. The Jam, Compass Point Studios Nassua Bahamas, Blondie in Texas, The Clash Manchester Apollo, The Pretenders, Sex Pistols concert, Andy Warhole at the Ritz, Matumbi.

Blondie – Debbie Harry on the set of the Movie “Roadie” – Texas

1981BOB MARLEY: SOUL REBEL – NATURAL MYSTIC (Adrian Boot & Vivian Goldman),  Aswad West London sessions, BB King, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithful Island Fallout Shelter session. Specials Brighton concert stage riot. The Slits, early U2 group photo session. Tom Tom Club Nassua session. Bob Marley’s Funeral in Jamaica, The Beat, Al Green, MadnessThe StranglersRay DaviesSiouxsie Sioux Creatures bathroom session, Tom Waits in London, Marianne Faithful and Lucky Gordon. Plasmatics

Specials concert in Brighton. Stage invasion brings the concert to a climax.

1982JAH REVENGE: BABYLON REVISITED (Adrian Boot & Michael Thomas), Peter Gabriel at home,  Kid Creole New York sessions. U2 USA tour Atlanta and Chicago . Sly and Robbie, Jamaica Historic buildings, Bananarama, The Slits, Sly and Robbie, Tom Tom Club at Compass Point studios Nassau Bahamas. Generation X, Dexys Midnight Runners and the Late jamaican Poet Michael Smith.

The Slits bathroom session contact sheet. 1982

1983B52’s Paris sessions, left Melody make to become Island Records in house photographer. Working for Island Records in Jamaica, Colombia,  Algeria, Nigeria, and many other parts of the world. Grace Jones photosession New York, Gregory Isaacs Jamaica, Def LeppardSimple Minds on the Clyde, Aswad.

Grace Jones – Living My Life – Video Shoot – New York 1983

1984Grace Jones One Man Show, A year as Top of the Pops photographer for the BBC , Virgin Records Richard Branson, Photographer for Actual Magazine in Paris, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Musical Youth, Trinidad trip.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik back stage bar photos

1985 – Official photographer for Live Aid, Philadelphia USA, Tom Waits New York and Paris, Gil Scott Heron, The Live Aid book

Tom Waits with Rickie Lee Jones backstage – Paris 1985

1986Big Audio Dynamite sessions, Straight to Hell movie set photographer. Jamaica tourist photography, Courtney Pine and Carmel, YellowmanPIL, Anthax.

Laughing Water Beach – Jamaica

1987Motor Head European tour, Gregory Isaacs studio session, Annie Lennox Paris, Trinidad sessions, Andy SheppardRandy Newman, Public Image Limited.

Motorhead – London 1987

1988 – Chris Salewicz, Billy Bragg, Peter Jenner and myself take a winter break in the Soviet Union. The stories that unfolded during this cold war vacation became the subject of a book called Midnights in Moscow published the following year. Depeche Mode LA USA, Yusuf Islam Cat Stevens, The Cure, Algeria Rai MusicLos Van Van, Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, Salif Keita.

Billy Bragg Cris Salewicz and peter Jenner in Moscow – USSR – 1988

1989Notting Hill Carnival sessions. Green peace in the Soviet Union, U2 in USSR, Womack and Womack sessions in Jamaica, William Burroughs USA session, Duran DuranLos Van Van concert, Lee Perry Zurich session, Thomas MapfumoSalif KeitaErasure.

Womack and Womack – House of Zekkariyas – Jamaica

1990Music in Colombia – Medellin, Cartagena. Roger Water’s The Wall in Berlin. Begin photographing African Music. First Baaba Maal photosession. Alan Ginsburg. Bob Marley Songs of Freedom Exhibition London, Orbis Flying Eye Hospital Africa trip, Discos Fuentes, Africa National CongressBarrington LeviBenjamin ZephaniahTippa Irie

Benjamin Zephaniah Dub Poet studio photosession 1990

1991 U2 Achtung Babe, LKJ studio session, Gerry Rafferty at home. Bob Marley Songs of Freedom Exhibition Paris and New York, Freddie McGregor

Bono – U2 Achtung Baby Live London 1991

1992 – Greenpeace U2 at Sellafield Atomic Power Station.

U2 Band with manager Paul McGuinness on a boat trip to a radioactive Sellafield beach dressed in anti radiation suits for a 1992 Greenpeace Demo.

1993 – Jimi Hendix Project – Ultimate Experience Exhibition. Collecting Jimi Hendrix photographs from photographers around the world .. I have never photographed Jimi, so it was interesting for me to curate an exhibition of other photographers work.

1994 – Jimi Hendix Ultimate Experience Exhibition London and New York. Baaba Maal concert.

1995JIMI HENDRIX: THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE (Adrian Boot & Chris Salewicz).  BOB MARLEY: SONGS OF FREEDOM (Adrian Boot & Chris Salewicz), Baaba Maal Africa trip Senegal photosessions, Salif Keita, Luciano studio session, Chakademus and Pliers.

Baaba Maal in Senegal

1996PUNK: THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF A MUSIC REVOLUTION (Adrian Boot & Chris Salewicz). Egypt Tutankhamun at the Cairo Museum, Elisabeth Valletti, Firefly Noel Coward museum project, Dean Fraser.

Elisabeth Valletti

1997Nelson Mandella in London. 2nd Senegal trip. Ernest Ranglin, ‪Lee Perry Indian Chief, Malik Sow, Angelique Kidjo, Prince Buster

Nelson Mandela – London 1997

1998 – First India trip, travel photography, Sidestepper, Palm Pictures, Talvin SingLos Van Van

Sidestepper

1999FIREFLY: NOEL COWARD IN JAMAICA (Adrian Boot & Chris Salewicz), UB40 photo session, Tinariwen at Womad. British Council in Iraq and Jordan;

UB40 in Studio – Birmingham 1999

2000 – Lagos, West Africa Island Trading trip, Buju Banton, Morocco Trip, Wayne Wonder, Dillinger. Created  www.urbanimage.tv with Felix Boot and Richard Horsey as a small independent eclectic photo agency.

Big Youth

2001REGGAE EXPLOSION: THE STORY OF JAMAICAN MUSIC by Adrian Boot & Chris Salewicz (2001). Trafalger Square Nelson Mandela concert. Baaba Maal Studio sessions, 2nd India trip .. Buddhism.

Candles at the feet of Buddha – Bodh Gaya

2002 – Reggae Explosion Museum opens after a 6 month build – Ocho Rios Jamaica. South Africa trip, Alextown and Soweto. Beresford HammondChannel One Studios

Beresford Hammond at home in Jamaica 2002

2003 – Hackney Ocean World Music awards. 3rd India Trip, Valley of the Flowers, Yoga, Cast in Morocco, Mad Capsule Markets in Amsterdam, Spiritualized.

Mad Capsule Markets .. Amsterdam photosession 2003

2004One Giant Leap sessions. Palm Pictures photographer, Gilles Peterson, Sly and Robbie.

Gilles Peterson at home 2004

2005 – Jamaica again .. Hotel tourist photography, Baaba Maal, Goldeneye Hotel, Jakes Hotel , Strawberry Hill Hotel , The Caves Hotel, Baaba Maal, Notting Hill Carnival, Luciano in SenegalVan Morrison, BB King

Children – Irish Town jamaica 2005

2006 – Brown Punk Sessions, Tricky.  4th India Trip – Ladakh.

Tricky – 2006 Brownpunk sessions

2007 – Palm Pictures photography, Jamaica Hotels, Asian Dub Foundation.

Yoga with a view – Girl at Jakes Spa – Treasure Beach Jamaica

2008Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand travel photography. Ethiopiques at the Barbican London, Karen Hill Tribes.

Ethiopiques at the Barbican London

2009Anoushka Shankar, Island 50 concerts. Island 50 Exhibition. Goldeneye, Strawberry Hill, Jakes, The Caves, Island Outpost Hotel sessions, Podor Concert, Senegal trip, Africa Express Liverpool

Blue Mountain View from the Spa – Strawberry Hill Hotel – Jamaica

2010 – Montreux Jazz festival, Clash – London Calling Exhibition at the Proud London, Jimmy Cliff

2011Kashmir Srinagar trip. Taj Mahal photography, Paris video shoot Justice, VV BrownRajasthan.

Kashmir Srinagar – Lake Dal

2012 Baaba Maal studio sessions. Grateful Dead in Egypt book.

Baaba Maal 2012 Studio portraits

2013Vietnam Trip, Shindig concert

Sunrise – Ha Long Bay – Vietnam

2014Andaman Islands Trip, Notting Hill Carnival, Babylon on a Thin Wire updated and published in France.

Elephant on the Beach – Andaman Islands 2014

2016 – Moved to Dorset.

2017 – Grace Jones Dublin BBC photography. 40 Years of Punk Exhibition at the Proud London

Grace Jones Dublin 2017

THE CLASH STORY

The exhibition opened just before Xmas and ended early in the new year 2011. It was an exhibition based around 3 important 1977 photo-sessions with some live and backstage bits and pieces added to the mix. The theme favoured by The Proud Gallery was “London Calling” the Clash in London. Not strictly true, since one of the 3 important photo-sessions was The Clash in Belfast.  The other two main sections were The Clash at the Camden Rehearsal Studios and The Clash under London’s A40 Westway. Maybe it should have been called “UK Calling.  The Proud Gallery in Camden is located at more or less the same location as the original Clash rehearsal studios.  Aptly named “Rehearsal Rehearsals” it was also my first encounter with The Clash.

Continue reading THE CLASH STORY

BEAUTIFUL JAMAICA

The Most Beautiful Island in the Caribbean

Jamaica, a Caribbean island nation with a lush topography of mountains, rainforests and reef-lined beaches. Many of its world class resorts are clustered on the vibrant north coast, with its British colonial architecture, Goldeneye – home of Ian Fleming 007, Firefly home of Noel Coward and Negril, renowned for its diving and snorkelling.  Jamaica is birthplace of Reggae, and Bob Marley.

Girl with mobile phone at Strawberry Hill – Jamaica
Though the original Georgian house on Strawberry Hill was destroyed in the hurricane of 1988, the new building maintains a traditional feel. Strawberry Hill, the resort, was created by Chris Blackwell as a salon for friends like Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones.

 

Royal Palm Villa at Goldeneye – Jamaica
Goldeneye was the name given by Ian Fleming to his estate in Oracabessa, Jamaica. He purchased the land next door to Golden Clouds estate and built his house on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a private beach. The original house was a modest structure consisting of three bedrooms and a swimming pool. Fleming’s coterie of friends who visited him at Goldeneye included actors, musicians and filmmakers. Today it is a very special luxury hotel that still entertains celebrities with its pristine beaches and eclectic lifestyle.
Fleming Beach at Goldeneye – Ian Flemings home – 1976
The relaxed beauty of the natural island landscape accented by vividly designed cottages is the defining visual aesthetic of Jakes. The resort’s winding beachfront property features a mosaic tiled sea-water swimming pool, paved pathways between rooms and to and from the beach, and shady, low-slung palm, ackee, almond, coconut and guinep trees that are complimented by aloe vera plants, pine cactus, desert rose and bougainvillea.
Floyd’s Pelican Bar – off shore bar and leisure centre – Treasure Beach Jamaica
Poised on the limestone cliffs of Negril’s scenic West End in Jamaica, The Caves capture the essence of a seductive ocean front sanctuary.
Romantic Seaview – The Caves – Negril Jamaica

Noël Coward’s mountaintop Jamaican home and burial site was originally owned by the infamous pirate and one-time governor of Jamaica, Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688). Named for the luminous insects seen in the warm evenings, Firefly estate has entertained a wide range of luminaries from the political and entertainment worlds, including both the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Alec Guinness, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, and neighbours Errol Flynn, Ruth Bryan Owen and Ian Fleming.

Firefly Jamaica – Noel Coward’s record player
Jamaica boasts an array of indigenous plants and wildlife which are considered to be among its most prized natural treasures. This biodiversity is supported by the island’s tropical climate which averages a year round temperature of 85 degrees. The diverse landscape of forests, rivers and marshlands also contribute to the island’s rich ecosystem.
Exotic Jamaican Garden – Goldeneye
Jamaica is much more than Reggae, Parties, Sex, Dancehall, Clubs, Rum and Urban Kingston. It is also by far one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. Outside the confines of the all inclusive hotels, Jamaica is a vacation paradise like no other. These galleries are for anyone thinking about a holiday in Jamaica . It is also for anyone who can’t go to Jamaica but wishes they could.
Frenchmans Cove Beach – Port Antonio Jamaica

REGGAEXPLOSION

Jamaican music has had a thoroughly disproportionate effect on the rest of the world – an astonishing achievement for a tiny Caribbean island which has a population of just three million people. Spearheaded by the popularity of reggae and the figurehead of Bob Marley, its reverberating rhythms have found a resonance with a diverse international audience. This newly updated edition of Reggae Explosion charts the course of this extraordinary cultural revolution.

From the earliest emergence in the 1950s of the fiercely competitive sound systems fighting sonic battles in downtown Kingston the story of Jamaican music is traced through ska, the birth of reggae, dub, roots reggae and the impact of Bob Marley to the new, harder-edged developments that have emerged in the last twenty years, including dancehall, ragga and jungle.

Unpublished transcripts of interviews with key figures like Lee ‘Scratch” Perry and Prince Buster introduce the authentic voices of reggae history to Reggae Explosion – which blends deeply researched facts and rare images to create not only a sense of the pulse of the music, but also the contrasts of poverty, humour, desperation and joie de vivre that typify both the island of Jamaica and its music.

Chris Salewicz and Adrian Boot have republished Reggae Explosion as an e-book. It is available for the Amazon Kindle Worldwide and soon will be available for the Ipad and other e-book readers, Click here to view the book on amazon.com or here for amazon.co.uk

Peter Tosh - Bob Marley - Lee Scratch perry
Peter Tosh – Bob Marley – Lee Scratch perry

ReggaeXplosion started life in the summer of 2000 as a heated argument.  Should the project be called ReggaeXplosion or more accurately Reggae Explosion. ReggaeXplosion ( all one word ) won the day, but it didn’t last .. by the time the USA version of the book was published the name reverted to Reggae Explosion. The project was to be a book and an exhibition. On Friday 29th September 2001  ReggaeXplosion opened with with a launch party down in the brick passages and catacombs under The Roundhouse – Camden.  All of London seemed to be there and one could imagine their numbers expanded by hippies still vainly trying to find their way out of the labyrinth since back in the Sixties. The visuals are set up on the raw brick passages which radiate like spokes from the building’s central space or, a welcome touch for contributors to this site, on panels of zinc fence and corrugated iron. Rootical rub a dub sounds were provided by the Mighty Tip-A-Tone Hi-Fi to a crowd well lubricated with free Appleton Gold rum punch and Carib beer. Among the heaving mass of thirsty reggae fans jostling at the bar were spotted Mark Lamarr the radio DJ, members of Aswad, Tricky the DJ and Massive Attack associate, Gaz Mayall of Gaz’ Rockin’ Blues and all the usual reggae suspects.

RX_Int1

This was a major reggae event and a model of how to present reggae to a larger audience. What comes across strongly is the range and diversity of the reggae experience and how much has been accomplished in fifty years by one small island. A ’50 years of cultural firestorm’.

Explore some of the photo archives used to compile Reggae Explosion …

ROOTS ROCK REGGAE : The artists, stars and heroes that have all help turn Reggae into a global phenomena. REGGAE DANCEHALL : Jamaican dancehall artists, music, slackness and fashion. REGGAE PRODUCERS AND POETS : Radicals, Revolutionaries and Innovators including Lee Scratch Perry. THE BOB MARLEY STORY : Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and the Marley family. REGGAE VIBES : Jamaican Art, Record Labels, DJ’s, Trenchtown, Sound Systems, Studios, Locations and Notting Hill Carnival. SKA AND EARLY YEARS : Reggae Pioneers. JAMAICA : Urban Jamaica, Beautiful Jamaica.

You can buy a print or license an image .. CONTACT US

ALGERIA & RAI

Raï is a music style that originated in Algeria in the 1930s. It appealed to young people who sought to modernize the traditional Islamic values and attitudes.

Rachid Baba, Chaba Fadela, Khaled and Cheb Sahraoui at the Mansourah Tlemcen Algeria

In December 1980 I traveled with Chris Salewicz to Algeria, he a mission to hook up with a French camera crew and shoot a short film for MTV on Algeria’s Ria music scene and I came along to shoot stills. Algeria was not a safe place then and the airport wasn’t at all welcoming. By the time we arrived the French film crew had been detained … indefinitely, and we were on our own. So after finding a video camera and microphone and avoiding police attention, our local contact drove us out of Algiers to Rachid Baba’s studio in Tlemcen. Chris did the interviews on film himself without a crew and I shot some stills. We left the country on the same day, minutes from the Police catching up with us. These photos were shot in the studio and at the ruins of al-Mansura.

Rachid Baba at the Mansourah Tlemcen Algeria
Rachid Baba at the Mansourah Tlemcen Algeria

Cheb Khaled (Khaled Hadj Ibrahim) producer. Following threats from Islamists, Khaled moved to France.
Chaba Fadela is an Algerian Raï musician and actress married to Cheb Sahraoui. She was the first woman to defy the ban on women singing in clubs.
Rachid Baba Ahmed Algerian musical producer with his studio in tlemcen pioneered Ria music. He was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists on February 15, 1995, outside his record store in Oran.

Gallery T-Shirts

EXCLUSIVE – A high resolution image printed on a high quality 100% recycled polyester T-Shirt.  Fine Jersey 5 oz / 170g . A soft and luxurious quality shirt printed here in the studio using a new high tech dye sublimation process. The image is fast and will survive multiple wash cycles, seawater and sunshine.

You definitely can’t buy these on the high Street. These T-shirts are printed by us on demand. No factories or third parties and  just like our studio photo prints, we  inspect and guarantee every item. Because we are not a factory we can only stock a limited range of sizes – MEDIUM, LARGE and EXTRA LARGE. In the future we will try and include other shapes and sizes,  depending on the demand.

SELECTION – We have selected 50 images for you to choose from. In theory you could choose any image from our archive and we can make a shirt, however some images have restrictions and others  may not make a good print. The images we have chosen are all classic black and white photographs printed on a gallery white T-shirt.

PRICE – £25  UK P&P included  USA £5  rest of  World £5 charges subject to review.

VIEW THE COLLECTION HERE  and BUY online.

TMOCKS

BABYLON ON A THIN WIRE

BABYLON ON A THIN WIRE  “Once upon a time in Jamaica”

Following is an excerpt by Michael Thomas from Babylon on a Thin Wire. The classic book by Michael Thomas and Adrian Boot will be available in a new and updated edition exclusively through Rough Trade in the UK from September 2017. This new hardback edition has text in English with a French translation.

Rough Trade East have a limited number of signed editions and a mini exhibition at Rough Trade –  Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

Bob Marley with Micheal Manley and Eddie Seaga at Peace Concert 1978

 You can view the full “Babylon on a Thin Wire” gallery here.

untitled

Flick it!  Excuse me?  FLICK IT!  This is a bit rich.  I’m standing stripped to my sox with my dick in my hand in an empty cell behind one of those doors you see at the airport, says NO ENTRY, and this little battyboy wants me to play with myself.  How lucky can you get?  I’ve run into the only gay cop in Jamaica.  Country half the size of Wales, popn the size of Wolverhampton, where sodomy is not just against the law, not just a criminal offence, it’s a slur on the manly honor of a proud and virile nation, the world’s most over-publicised queer-bashing fag-phobic pillow-biter-hating poofter-averse society west of Turkey and Tehran – there’s always one, and I’m looking at him and he’s looking at me and he’s smirking.  Flick it.  He knows I’m gonna do it, I have no choice, he is THE LAW.  There have been some changes made in Jamaica since this book first came out, but some traditions die hard, ie we both know this little turd-burglar’s got my nuts in a vice, he can at a moment of his choosing pinch a couple g’s from his pocket and tell the judge he found it up my ass…

Jukebox at First and Last Bar Port Antonio 1972
Jukebox at First and Last Bar Port Antonio 1972

May 2010, thirty years after The Harder They Come, Dudus is on the run.  Kingston’s locked down, I’m getting desperate emails from Michelle she’s too scared to leave the house, it’s a massacre out there, they’re shooting people on sight as the police took on the Shower Posse and war broke out on the streets of Tivoli Gardens.  They call ‘em the Shower Posse because that’s the way they shoot at you.  72 people died before they got him in the end, it was the biggest manhunt on the island since Jimmy Cliff died shooting back on Lime Key in The Harder They Come and that was a movie.  Christopher Coke, the dude they call Dudus, is a prominent local businessman with friends in high places on backslapping terms with the leadership of the JLP, the Prime Minister himself is the MP for Tivoli Gardens and that’s Dudus’s garrison, the Shower Posse are his brethren, the Feds reckon he’s shifted more coke into the USA in the last few years than BP pumps guava jelly.  The cops wanted to headlock Dudus before the Americans got him and extradited him and he starts naming names ..

Gun Court Jamaica's place of Indefinite Detention - Kingston Jamaica 1973
Gun Court Jamaica’s place of Indefinite Detention – Kingston Jamaica 1973

Flick it for Sullivan, nuh.  Whuh? He’s taking the piss. He’s pushing my APPREHENDABILITY to the max.  Sullivan sticks his head round the door, but he’s not interested, he averts his gaze, he has to put up with this little weasel day in and day out:  Sullivan’s interested in my Timberlands.  He’s thinking about trying them on for size.  He doesn’t say anything, he just boulders his shoulders and bunches his brows and flares his nostrils and he looks at me like a gorilla looks at a gnat and he whispers:  SSSTRONNNG BOOTSSS.

I’m not in the mood for this.  I need sleep.  It’s been a long week, we’ve been rimmin it all over the island in Flugie’s bus, I miss this flight there’s not another one till Wednesday.  I’m here to move the ball, I have friends in high places too, I’m practically a guest of the government.  But the urine test never lies.  Five minutes ago, I’m checking in at Virgin in Montego Bay and this gringo pulls me out of the line and searches my bag.  He’s just going thru the motions, it’s too hot, he’s homesick, his hopes fade fast, but the girl cop’s not giving up, she’s burrowing like a badger in my laundry, chucking stuff over her shoulder, she’s sniffing my spoor, she’s on fire –  You sure about this?  I FEEEL IT! –

The man from the Yard gives my passport back, I check in etc, but it’s a trap. Gilbert and Sullivan are waiting for me airside. Now he has proof: my urine test is telling him my blood reeks of ganja, and the urine test is EVI-DENCE! FOOL PROOF! FI-NAL!  Frankly, I’m not amazed.  I’d be stunned if it came up anything different. Where do we go from here?  Sullivan did the driving.  We got to the Mobay District Hospital and this is the kind of little everyday setback you have to take in your stride in Jamaica:  the X-Ray’s broke.  Heh heh.  Flick it yourself, Gilbert!  Times like this, you dial up an Indian.  Dr Mukherjee shows up, and a five year old girl in the ghetto could’ve told you this:  the X-Ray’s not plugged in.  I hate to wipe the smirk off your face:  X-Ray comes up empty.  There are no johnnies full of dandruff in my belly ..

Police check out Tuff Gong - ~Bob prevents them talking to the gang Leaders who arrived for a press conference
Police check out Tuff Gong – Bob prevents them talking to the gang Leaders who arrived for a press conference

I walked into a profile.  Who knew?  The Virgin girls on the plane tell me Dudus and the boys got fed up with all their silly babymothers getting busted at Heathrow, these days they look for panache, they employ louche war-weary silver-haired vets of a certain vintage as the mules de jour.  Dudus didn’t fight the extradition, he knew better than that:  he didn’t want to die in a fire in a cell in the lockup in Spanish Town like his father did so the Feds got their man.  What everybody’s talking about now, what’s keeping the friends and family of the leadership of the JLP awake at night is this:  will he spill the beans?  What’s the fucking package!

The politicisation of crime and the criminalisation of politics goes back a long way, to the Manley years.  This book came out back then, when I was opening the batting at Rolling Stone and we put Bob Marley on the front page, it’s the story of the Manley years, when the guns came to town and Johnny Too Bad took over the house – and at the same time wherever you went on the planet it didn’t matter, you could be rotting in a hammock on the West Coast of Guadalcanal or knee-deep in neon in a karaoke bar in Tokyo, somebody was singing along to No Woman No Cry.  Things have changed, Michael Manley died in his bed a few years ago, New Kingston’s globalized, there are Russian hookers in the clubs on Beeston Street, there’s a KFC in every stripmall, everybody’s got a pay-as-you-go from Digicel etc.  Blackwell’s old plantation house up at Strawberry Hill where Island used to send all their shellshocked rock stars for rehab got blown away by the hurricane, these days it’s a fivestar resort with infiniti pools etc.  56 Hope Rd, where global Jamaica was hatched, the old pink house that was Island’s HQ and later His Bobness’s residence is now the Bob Marley Museum.  Hellshire Beach, where we found Countryman juggling live fish used to be a stretch of sand with a couple shacks, you had to have a 4×4 to get there.  These days it’s 40 minutes on the motorway, it’s a teeming favela full of rum bars and old Rastas like my mate Electric-Power selling tonic to stretch your ejaculation to BREAK-ING POINT etc.  But the waves roll in, the way they always have and always will ..

Charlie Ace’s Swing-a-Ling mobile record and recording shop and studio - 1973
Charlie Ace’s Swing-a-Ling mobile record and recording shop and studio – 1973

You can buy a print or license an image .. CONTACT US

You can buy the latest version of this book French/English –  bilingual edition from Patate in France at Babylononathinwire.com . 

This new edition is available from Rough Trade right here in the UK.  Visit Rough Trade East at the Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

GRATEFUL DEAD IN EGYPT

It’s September 1978 and London is damp, grey and miserable. Another Punk Rock winter is setting in, monochromatic, ripped black clothes, BDSM, conflict, aggressive vibes, the winter of discontent. The rainbow days are long gone. The good vibes, psychadelic Kodachome lifestyle, beautiful people, hippies, the electric cool aid acid test, free Love.. all gone, just faint memories. The LSD has been replaced by Heroin,  disposable incomes replaced with poverty.

Then after a short plane ride, I discover that the Haight-Ashbury hippy movement hadn’t really gone away, It  just relocated. Maybe it needed lots of warm summer weather and an optimistic outlook to survive, maybe that is why it had all but disappeared from London. So .. here I was in Egypt with Jerry Garcia, Mountain Girl, The Pranksters, The Grateful Dead and an entourage of grown-up hippies. For a week or so I was on the bus.. The electric cool aid acid test rekindled. Only this time it would include a Pyramid and a Lunar Eclipse.  Continue reading GRATEFUL DEAD IN EGYPT

SUICIDE IN NEW YORK

Its 1979 and I am in New York. Photographing the NY Punk scene for the Melody Maker. Sunday was my last day, and I was looking forward to a late brunch, a bit of shopping and then on to the airport for the night flight home. Instead a record company car picks me up from the Gramercy Park Hotel at the crack of dawn on an early spring Sunday morning. I don’t know how I was talked into doing this last minute photosession. I had never heard of Suicide but figured they were important. It had to be early, I had to pack and check out of the hotel by noon.  The taxi travelled through empty streets towards a run down part of New York, I can’t remember exactly which part of NY, but it was a very down market part of town.

Continue reading SUICIDE IN NEW YORK

BACK IN THE USSR

Winter 1988 – Chris Salewicz, Billy Bragg, Peter Jenner and myself take a winter break in the Soviet Union. The stories that unfolded during this cold war vacation became the subject of a book called Midnights in Moscow published the following year.

The following is an extract from this book.. with thanks to Chris, PJ and Omnibus Press

“The wind that whips off the frozen Moskva river and up to the broad steps of the Hotel Ukraine cuts through your thermal underwear like a Cossack’s sabre. It is bone-chillingly cold, as it invariably is in Moscow in late November at one in the morning.

On the steps of the 30-storey, showcase hotel, a rather curious scenario is being enacted. Billy Bragg, his manager Peter Jenner, his guitarist blood-brother Wiggy, and a good dozen Soviet companions have disgorged from an Intourist coach that has brought them from the Olympic Village on the outskirts of Moscow. There, Billy Bragg has that evening played the last of several shows, each time before an audience of 6,000, in the weight-lifting hall constructed for the 1980 Olympics. Continue reading BACK IN THE USSR