Roger Steffens

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Roger Steffens
Born (1942-06-17)June 17, 1942
New York, NY
Nationality American
Other names RoJah, RasroJah
Known for Author, Actor, Archivist, Radio personality

Roger Steffens (born June 17, 1942) is a Brooklyn, New York born actor, author, lecturer, editor, reggae archivist, photographer, producer. Roger is perhaps best known for his reggae archives, in particular his archives of Bob Marley.[1] Six rooms of his home in Los Angeles house his archives, which include the world's largest collection of Bob Marley material. Based on these archives Roger lectures internationally with a multi-media presentation called The Life of Bob Marley. Roger's radio career began in New York City in 1961, and was co-host of the award-winning Reggae Beat on KCRW in Los Angeles and was syndicated on 130 stations worldwide in the 1980s.


Steffens served in Vietnam and spent a year in Morocco before visiting Jamaica for the first time in 1976.[1] He has a large collection of photographs covering his Vietnam service and Jamaican musicians, including many slides which were digitized and released via Instagram in 2013.[1] In 2014 his daughter Kate created a website to showcase 40 years of counterculture photos at ><. It began to attract major attention from Time Magazine, Slate and The New Yorker, which asked Steffens to take over their site, calling it their most popular takeover ever. In early 2015 the BBC-TV did a report on Steffens' first collection of photographs, "The Family Acid" [S_U_N_) and the Sunday New York Times Style Section and the Sunday magazine of The Observer featured his photographs. His work has been exhibited this year at Paris Photo LA and Art Basel.

"The Family Acid presents his often transcendent vision and life as a psychedelic pioneer on the order of Timothy Leary and Hunter S. Thompson beginning with his work in Vietnam and moving through his ever revolving circle of friends and characters made up of Rastas, beatniks, musicians, artists, gonzo journalists, his family, and himself. The portraits, scenes, and freewheeling experimentation with the medium of photography coalesce into a body of work that both parallels and defines the countercultural ethos of Steffens’ generation."[2]

Acting and narrating[edit]

Steffens has been involved with a large amount of acting and narration work, both credited and uncredited. He provided narration in The Flight of the Gossamer Condor and the television documentary Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam,[3] and he portrayed Ben Veelchez in Dean Quixote, Daniel Golan in the 1999 film Deterrence, and a radio technician in Rollercoaster. In addition, Steffens has been involved with many other films and television shows in an uncredited role, including Forrest Gump, Ghosts of Mississippi, The Making of Batman Returns, CHiPS, Empty Nest, and Soul Rebel: The Bob Marley Story.[4]


Steffens co-hosted Reggae Beat on KCRW from 1979 until 1987, and Reggae Beat International from 1983 until 1987, which was syndicated internationally to 130 stations.[1] He also served as a syndicated weekly contributor from 1993 to 1997 for Planet Reggae on the radio station Groove Radio 103 in Los Angeles. Steffens also worked on several other radio shows, including Offbeat: The Roger Steffens Show (Host, 1987–1989), Sound of the Sixties (Host, 1984–1986), Morning Goes Makossa (Co-host, 1980–1984), Future Forward (ethnic music commentator, 1985–1986), and Poetry For People Who Hate Poetry (1983 and 1987).

Steffens was named "Most Popular Reggae DJ in the World" by Martin's International Awards in Chicago, 1985, and "One of the Forty Who Matter in L.A." by the Los Angeles Reader.

Music anthologies[edit]

Steffens has contributed to countless music anthologies as a writer and photographer. But surely his most important contribution to the reggae legacy is the ten-CD series entitled The Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967 to 1972. Released in 1998-2003, this 220-track series revealed over a hundred rare Bob Marley & the Wailers recordings to the world, including major songs like Selassie Is the Chapel, and many of them previously unreleased, such as Rock to the Rock. Many of the rarest selections came directly from his huge collection. Co-produced with partner Bruno Blum, the series revived the JAD label, a small company that had signed an exclusive contract with Marley and his wife Rita as well as original Wailers member Peter Tosh in 1967. Although many of the recordings have since been available on various compilations, the quality of the original, definitive ten releases, which include extensive liner notes and rare time period pictures, remains unmatched.

Audio books[edit]

Steffens was a reader for the audiobooks Bill Gates' Business @ the Speed of Thought (Time Warner), The Man From St. Petersburg (Warner Audio), Big Two Hearted River: The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (North Star), and Mother Earth Father Sky (North Star). He also provided the corporate voice (all wrap-arounds) for Time Warner Audio Books from 1996 until 2003.


Steffens' stage experience includes work with the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and his one-man show, Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry which was performed to over two million people from 1966 to 1976 and was used as the basis of TV series 1968-69 Armed Forces Vietnam Network.


  • Carnegie-Mellon, Pittsburgh
  • American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NYC
  • Iona College, NY, winner of its first drama scholarship
  • National Defense Information School, honor graduate

Interviewee, adviser or content provider[edit]

Steffens has been interviewed and served as an advisor on many television programs, including American Masters three times (on the subjects Rebel Music, James Brown, and Waldo Salt), VH1's Behind the Music four times (for the subjects Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Alan Freed, and 1970), VH1 Confidential: Tosh & Marley, VH1 Ultimate Albums: Bob Marely's Legend, Stand And Be Counted, The Voice on Channel Four, and Soul Britainia on the BBC. He is also featured in an upcoming documentary on reggae group Steel Pulse.


  • Bob Marley: Spirit Dancer
  • Bob Marley and The Wailers: The Definitive Discography - (first place award for Best Research in Folk, Ethnic or World Music from the Association of Recorded Sound Collections, 2006)
  • The World of Reggae featuring Bob Marley: Treasures from Roger Steffens Reggae Archives
  • One Love: Life with Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • Roger Steffens and Peter Simon's Reggae Scrapbook (winner, ForeWord Magazine Silver Medal for Best Music Book of 2007)
  • The Family Acid, 2015

Contributing Writer[edit]

  • “Bob Marley: Rasta Warrior” in Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader Temple Univ. Press 1998
  • Dictionnaire des chansons de Bob Marley, Editions de Tournon, Paris, 2005
  • “Reggae in the Seventies” in Rolling Stone’s The Seventies
  • Introduction to Bob Marley Reader (DaCapo 2004);
  • A Magio do Reggae, Martin Claret Pub., São Paulo, 1997
  • “Nine Meditations on Jimi and Nam” in The Ultimate Hendrix, Macmillan, NYC
  • "Bob Marley: The Complete Annotated Bibliography" with Joe Jurgensen, Haras Publishing, Prospect 2009


  • The Family Acid, 2015

Contributing Photographer[edit]

  • Couleur Reggae, Editions Tana, Paris, 2001
  • Jamaica, Lonely Planet Guide Book, 2000
  • Sur la Route avec Bob Marley, Mark Miller, Scali, France 2007

Lecturer on The Life of Bob Marley at hundreds of venues including the Smithsonian Institution, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (its first and most frequent speaker), Experience Music Project, American Film Institute, Red Rocks-Denver, University of the West Indies and University of Technology (Kingston, Jamaica), Schomburg Center for Black Research of the New York Public Library; Missouri History Museum, and Universities of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Utah, California, Hawaii, Martinique; at the Ritz, Joe’s Pub, Irving Plaza and S.O.B.’s in NYC; the Milky Way, Amsterdam; in Paris, Caen, Rouen, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa Blues Fest, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Tokyo, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Newcastle (UK) Opera House and the Padmore Society in London. Plus a 12-show, seven city tour of Australia in 2004, including Arts Centers in Brisbane, Darwin and Melbourne, and three performances in Sydney. A six date tour of Israel took place in January 2006, followed by gigs in Hawaii and four days at the Houston International Festival, and three days at the Montreal International Reggae Festival. In 2007, a dozen shows were held throughout Australia and New Zealand. He was a principal speaker at the Global Reggae Conference at the University of the West Indies in Kinston, Jamaica in February 2008.

Writing and/or Photography: NY Times, LA Times, High Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, Musician, Village Voice, Record Collector (UK), Option, BRE, Relix, Jamaica Observer, Jamaica Daily Gleaner, Jamrock, Player (Japan), RM (Japan), Best, Nova, Natty Dread and Reggae Massive (France), Moda (Italy), Il Talehti (Finland), Diana Photo Review (Sweden), Reggae News (Brazil), Caribbean Week, LA Style, Montreal Gazette, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Weekly, LA Reader, Inked (Black Tattooing), Tattoo, Reggae Festival Guide, and on the official websites of Keith Richards and PBS. Plus hundreds more.

Interview Subjects[edit]

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Culture, Steel Pulse, Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, King Sunny Ade, Ray Charles, Robert Moog, Little Richard, Mick Fleetwood, Nina Simone, Matt Groening, John Ritter, Richie Havens, Dion, Solomon Burke, Eric Burdon, Ginger Baker, John Densmore, David Byrne, Joe Cocker, Timothy Leary, Olatunji, Jonathan Frakes, Rick Berman, Jerry Goldsmith, Luciano, Toots Hibbert, Lee Perry and hundreds more reggae, world beat, and pop artists

Liner Notes[edit]

Bob Marley & the Wailers (entire catalog 1963-1972), Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh (entire catalog), Andrew Tosh, Marcia Griffiths, Herbie Hancock, Monty Alexander, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, Culture, Gregory Isaacs, Sly & Robbie, Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus, Mad Professor, Israel Vibration, Sunsplash ’92, Barrington Levy, Techniques, Jacob Miller, Pablo Moses, Alton Ellis, Mighty Diamonds, Dean Fraser, Skatalites, Delroy Wilson, Joe Higgs, Ken Boothe, Heptones, Original Wailers Reunion, Tapper Zukie, Mandators, Scientist, Fully Fullwood, Tony Chin, Reggae Salutes the Grateful Dead Vol. II, Vusi Mahlasela, Reggae in Hifi, Is It Rolling Bob? A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan, and scores more


  • Miriam Makeba:The Sangoma Interview with Roger Steffens Warner Bros.
  • World Music Sampler writer/narrator, Warner/Reprise/Sire
  • David Byrne: Rei Momo:Words and Music, interviewer, Sire
  • Occupy Los Angeles: Narration & Continuity, Reel Intellect/Good Feel Films



  • National Promotions Director, Island Records, 1982–1983, in charge of all reggae and African music promotions including Bob Marley Confrontation, King Sunny Ade Juju Music and Synchro System, Gregory Isaacs Night Nurse, Black Uhuru, Michael Smith
  • National Reggae Promotions, Elektra Records, 1982; Steel Pulse True Democracy and Sunsplash ’81: Tribute to Bob Marley
  • National Reggae Promotions, EMI-America, 1985–1986, first two Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers albums
  • National Reggae Promotions, Slash Records, 1986, Burning Spear People of the World

See also[edit]


External links[edit]