Trojan Records

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Trojan Records
Parent company Sanctuary Records Group
Founded 1968
Founder Lee Gopthal
Country of origin United Kingdom
Official website

Trojan Records is a British record label founded in 1968. It specialises in ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub music. The label currently operates under the Sanctuary Records Group. The name Trojan comes from the Croydon-built Trojan truck that was used as Duke Reid's sound system in Jamaica. The truck had "Duke Reid - The Trojan King of Sounds" painted on the sides, and the music played by Reid became known as the Trojan Sound.


Trojan Records was founded in 1968 by Lee Gopthal, who had previously run a record store called Musicland, and before that collaborated with Chris Blackwell of Island Records on mail order sales. By 1970, Trojan Records artists who were successful in the pop music charts included: Lee Perry's Upsetters, Bob and Marcia, The Cimarons, Desmond Dekker, Bruce Ruffin, Nicky Thomas and Dave and Ansell Collins. Trojan's main function was not to develop new artists, but to serve as a sister label for Island Records. Monetary success came from releasing Jamaican music supplied by producers such as Duke Reid, Byron Lee and Leslie Kong, in a series of popular, budget-priced compilations such as Tighten Up, Club Reggae and Reggae Chartbusters. Trojan Records released songs from Toots and the Maytals (the artist who introduced the term “reggae” in song[1]) and helped to raise the popularity of reggae in the UK. Matthew Sherman explains, “(Toots) he was also gaining exposure in the UK -recordings from 1969 and ’70 were licensed to Trojan records, who issued two more albums, "Monkey Man" (1969) and "From the Roots" (1970), both of which did very well in the UK and helped Toots gain a following there.[2]” Musicians such as drummer Paul Douglas and Jackie Jackson can be heard on Trojan releases for multiple artists, including Clancy Eccles and Toots and the Maytals.[2][3] The music became especially popular in British youth subcultures, such as the mods, skinheads and suedeheads.

In 1971, Island Records pulled out of its partnership with Trojan Records. Around the same time, there was a declining interest in Jamaican music among British youths, who ventured towards other genres when Rastafarian lyrics and slower tempos entered the music. In 1974, Trojan had made attempts to anglicize the reggae on the label, by re-mastering and overdubbing string arrangements over the original Jamaican recordings. They also brought in more British reggae artists, such as Symarip and Greyhound. However, the company was still out of step with the British reggae fanbase; largely missing out on the Rasta and the lovers rock phases of reggae, which could have brought more commercial success. In 1974 (finalized in 1975), Trojan was bought by the Saga company, which focused on releasing budget LPs.

In 1985, Colin Newman bought Trojan Records from Marcel Rodd, the CEO of Saga. By the late 1980s, Trojan was unearthing and compiling many ska, rocksteady and reggae recordings and re-issuing them for the first time in 25 years. They contributed some reggae classics to be remixed for TV commercials for TDK, Adidas and the 2000 UEFA European Football Championship. They also started the popular Trojan Box Set series, which usually feature 50 songs on a 3-CD (or vinyl record) set in a simple cardboard package. The Sanctuary Records Group purchased Trojan Records in 2001 for $14.5m and continued to license and release tracks from other reggae labels under the Trojan name.[4] In August 2007, Universal Music Group had acquired 90% of Sanctuary Records after announcing in June a share offer that valued Sanctuary at $87.68 million.[5] In 2013 UMG sold their entire Sanctuary back catalog including Trojan to BMG as part of a divestment program that was a mandatory condition set by EU regulators when UMG acquired EMI in 2012.[6]

Influence on skinheads[edit]

Trojan skinheads, influenced by traditional 1960s skinhead culture, are named after Trojan Records, to stress the influence of black Jamaican music and the rude boy style to the skinhead subculture. This designation emphasizes differences from the punk rock-influenced Oi! skinheads of the 1980s. The logo of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) is based on the Trojan Records logo, although the helmet is reversed to face the opposite direction.

Collectable Records[edit]

Over the years; as demand for many rare records has increased, a number of Trojan releases have become collectors items. For example, a 1969 single by The Slickers entitled "Run Fattie" sold for over £300 in 2015 [1]. Other collectable records on Trojan that have sold for £200 or more include "Night Of Love" by Ansel Collins [2], "Wiggle Waggle" by The Wandereres [3] and "Hang 'Em High" by Richard Ace [4].

Labels licensed to Trojan[edit]


  1. ^ "reggae". Unabridged. Random House, Inc. Retrieved 24 October 2016. <>
  2. ^ a b Sherman, Matthew. "The Rise of Reggae and the Influence of Toots and the Maytals." The Rise of Reggae, and the Influence of Toots and the Maytals. The Dread Library, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
  3. ^ Gorney, Mark. “Clancy Eccles - Reggae Pioneer”. The Beat Magazine, Volume 24, No. 6 (2005). Reggae Festival Guide, 2007. 38. Web. Retrieved November 19, 2016.<>
  4. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (30 June 2001). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 7–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  5. ^ UMG Seals Sanctuary Buyout Deal - Billboard Website - Article by Lars Brandle (2 August 2007). Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  6. ^ BMG Buys Sanctuary Records Catalog - Variety Website - Article by Christopher Morris (15 February 2013). Retrieved 5 May 2013.

Further reading[edit]

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