Don Letts

Joining the countercultural dots for almost forty years

Wednesday 29th August 2012
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Don Letts has been joining the countercultural dots for almost forty years, coming to notoriety in London during the late 1970s, running Acme Attractions and introducing an entire generation of punks to reggae as DJ at the Roxy Club. Now, as Fred Perry celebrates its 60th anniversary, he will celebrate the integral part that the brand continues to play in shaping youth culture.

As Fred Perry Subcultures will show, it's not just a fashion label. It's a way of life.

Don Letts was inspired by what he saw at Acme Attractions and The Roxy, and adopted a punk D.I.Y ethic, to make "The Punk Rock Movie". Shot on Super-8mm, it remains the seminal documentary on the U.K punk scene, featuring The Sex Pistols, The Clash and many others. Don went on to direct over 300 music videos for the likes of Bob Marley, Elvis Costello and The Clash.

Don's other films include "Dancehall Queen" (Jamaica’s highest ever grossing movie), and BBC documentaries, including, "Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", "George Clinton: Tales of Dr. Funkenstein", and "Soul Britannia". In 2004 he directed the acclaimed "PUNK: Attitude", following on from the success of "The Clash: Westway to the World", for which he won a Grammy in 2003.

Drawn towards musical projects, he created the band Basement Five, released a single with members of John Lydon's P.I.L., managed The Slits and formed Big Audio Dynamite with Mick Jones (formerly of The Clash). B.A.D. enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic into the early 1990s, including the top ten hit "E=Mc2".

Today Don Letts will be familiar to many from BBC 6 Music, where he has presented a weekly show since 2007, and his involvement with Strummerville, the new music charity founded by the friends and family of Joe Strummer, making the acclaimed film of the same name in 2010. 2011 saw Big Audio Dynamite reform, with their original line up, playing Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza to rave reviews, with The Observer stating "...they remain a joy".

 

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