|Birth name||Don Letts|
10 January 1956 |
1978 -Steel Leg v the Electric Dread
|Website||Don's BBC6 show|
Letts was born in London, and educated at Tenison's School in Kennington. In 1975, he ran the London clothing store Acme Attractions, selling "electric-blue zoot suits and jukeboxes, and pumping dub reggae all day long." He was deeply inspired by the music coming from his parents' homeland, Jamaica, in particular Bob Marley. After seeing one of Marley's gigs at the Odeon in Hammersmith (June 1976) Letts was able to sneak into the hotel and spent the night talking to and befriending Marley. By the mid-1970s Acme had quite a scene, attracting the likes of The Clash, Sex Pistols, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, Deborah Harry and Bob Marley.
Seeing the crowd at Acme, the then promoter Andy Czezowski started up the Roxy, a London nightclub during the original outbreak of punk in England, so that people could go from the store and have some place to party. As most bands of that era had yet to be recorded, there were limited punk rock records to be played. Instead, Letts included many dub and reggae records in his sets, and is credited[by whom?] with introducing those sounds to the London punk scene, which was to influence The Clash and other bands. As a tribute, he is pictured on the cover of the EP Black Market Clash and the compilation Super Black Market Clash. He was able to use the fame and money from DJing and the Acme story to make his first film, The Punk Rock Movie (1978).
Letts quit the retail business to manage the band The Slits. He was able to get The Slits to open for The Clash during the White Riot tour. While on the White Riot tour he decided that management was not for him, but continued to shoot material for The Punk Rock Movie.
Letts went to Jamaica for the first time when, after the Sex Pistols broke up, Johnny Rotten decided to escape the media frenzy by going with Richard Branson to Jamaica. It was on this trip that Branson was inspired to start up Virgin's Frontline reggae record label.
|“||I guess he thought that since I was black and Jamaican - well, sort of - he'd be in good hands. Little did he know that the closest I'd been to Jamaica was watching The Harder They Come at the Classic Cinema in Brixton.||”|
— Don Letts 
A true music fan, Letts confesses to loving music so much, he actually falls asleep with the radio on.
|“||In a conservative culture that feels like punk never happened, the time is right for Return of the Rudeboy.||”|
— Don Letts
In 1978, Letts recorded an EP, Steel Leg v the Electric Dread, with Keith Levene, Jah Wobble and Steel Leg. After Mick Jones was fired from The Clash, he and Letts founded Big Audio Dynamite in 1984. In 1990 Letts formed Screaming Target. As of 1 April 2009, Letts is presenting a weekly show on BBC Radio 6 Music.
In 2006, he published his autobiography, Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers.
Since his first movie, The Punk Rock Movie, Letts has expanded to doing documentaries and music videos for multiple bands. In 1997, he travelled to Jamaica to direct Dancehall Queen. His film Westway to the World won a Grammy Award in 2003.
Filmography (as director)
|1978||The Punk Rock Movie|
|1982||"Pass the Dutchie"||Video for Musical Youth|
|1985||"E=MC2"||Video for Big Audio Dynamite|
|1988||The Pretenders: The Singles||Video "Back on the Chain Gang"|
|1997||Dancing in the Streets: Planet Rock||TV movie|
|2000||The Clash: Westway to the World||Video|
|The Pretenders: Greatest Hits||Video "Back on the Chain Gang"|
|2003||The Essential Clash||Video|
|2004||Making of 'London Calling': The Last Testament||Video|
|2005||Punk: Attitude||TV movie|
|The Right Spectacle: The Very Best of Elvis Costello - The Videos||Video|
|The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Gil Scott-Heron|
|Brother From Another Planet: Sun Ra|
|2006||The Making of All Mod Cons: The Jam|
|Tales of Dr. Funkenstein: George Clinton|
|Rock It To Rio: Franz Ferdinand|
|2008||The Clash Live: Revolution Rock||TV movie|
|2011||Rock 'N' Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen|
- Don Letts (24 October 2001). "'Dem crazy baldheads are my mates'". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- Don Letts (24 May 2007). "Don Letts: In his own words - Special to BobMarley.com". Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- Charlotte Robinson (12 July 2002). "DON LETTS". popmatters. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- "Return of the Rude Boy" at Somerset House, 13 June– 25 August 2014.
- Return of the Rude Boy website.
- "Don Letts Biography". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Letts, Don; David Nobakht (2008) [22 January 2007]. Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers (3rd ed.). London: SAF Publishing. ISBN 0-946719-99-3. OCLC 181422771.
- Letts, Don; The Clash, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon (15 April 2008). The Clash Live: Revolution Rock (Documentary/TV movie). New York, NY: Legacy Recordings. OCLC 227211002.