Main Stage. Sunday
Don Letts is a British film director, DJ and musician, often credited with introducing London's nascent punk scene to dub and reggae.
Letts first came to prominence as the videographer for The Clash, directing several of their music videos. In 1984, Letts co-founded the band Big Audio Dynamite with Clash guitarist Mick Jones, acting as the group's sampler and videographer before departing the band in 1990.
Letts also directed music videos for Musical Youth, The Psychedelic Furs, The Pretenders and Elvis Costello as well as the feature documentaries The Punk Rock Movie (1977) and The Clash: Westway to the World (2000).
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 Hammersmith Odeon (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 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).