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Musician, DJ and film maker Don Letts was
born in London in 1956 to Jamaican parents.
Music was an influence on his life from his early
years as his father, Duke Letts ran his own sound
system. Interested in clothing from an early age. Letts
recalls that before the impact of Rastafarianism “the
blueprint for Black people in Britain was funk and soul”
which was “an emulation of American black culture”.
He felt that black Britons should have been revelling in “our
differences and the qualities which were distinctly ours! That’s what Rasta
and punk did for us, it freed us up.” Searching for an individual identity his image blossomed
during the mid 1970s. He grew his hair into full-length dreadlocks and wore, for example, a leopard
print waistcoat.

In 1975 Letts began to manage Acme Attractions a clothing stall in Antiquarius (antique market) on the Kings
Road in Chelsea, London. Alongside Juke boxes and pinball machines it sold shocking pink peg-legged
trousers, electric blue zoot suits, Marlowe crepe-soled shoes, stilettos and wrap-around shades. The music
Letts played on the juke box in the shop was dub reggae.

Through connections Letts made at Acme and on the Kings Road he was asked to DJ at the first and
foremost punk club The Roxy at the end of 1976. Here he mixed Jamaican reggae and roots music with
American ‘punk rock’ singles by the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and the MC5. At the same time then editor
of Vogue magazine, Caroline Baker gave Letts a Super-8 camera which he used to record the blossoming
punk scene and the rise of Rastafarianism in Britain.

Letts early experiments with his Super-8 camera eventually led to a career in film-making. He has shot over
400 promo videos for musicians such as Bob Marley, Public Image, Beenie Man and the Clash . He has also
made numerous acclaimed films and documentaries including ‘Punk Rock Movie’ (1978) assembled from
his early punk footage, the Grammy award winning ‘Westway to the World’ (1999) featuring The Clash and
the film ‘Dancehall Queen’ (1996) adrama which focused on the fashions and lifestyle surrounding the
JamaicanDancehall scene.

Don Letts own personal style was a combination of influences: Jamaican parents who moved to England in
the 1950s; the guidance of Rastafari; and the individuality of Punk. These have manifested themselves into
a unique style: “I have a natural resistance to being categorised. Put a label on yourself and that¹s all you
can be.”