David Rodigan MBE. Biography
Contains quotes from an article by Ian Burrell published in the Independent
For over 40 years David Rodigan has been the top dog in the ganja-scented, bass heavy-atmosphere of Britain’s reggae dance-halls. The key to his success has been an unsinkable passion for reggae music, which first took a hold of him as a schoolboy when he heard ska music in the early ’60s. He developed an obsession with the music of Jamaica that generated an encyclopaedic knowledge of the island’s every artist, every song and every rhythm track.
His earliest experience of dee jaying was during lunch breaks once a week in the gym at Gosford Hill School in Kidlington, Oxford. On leaving school he landed a place at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in 1971, where he spent three years studying to become an actor. He worked extensively in repertory theatre and appeared in a number of television productions such as ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC) and ‘Shackleton’ (BBC); he also performed his one-man show ‘Zima Junction’ at literature festivals and theatres in the 1970s; a dramatisation of the poem by the Russian writer Yevtushenko.
Rodigan began his reggae broadcasting career in 1978 on BBC Radio London. He moved to Capital Radio in 1979 and remained there for eleven years broadcasting his legendary ‘Roots Rockers’ show every Saturday night. His credibility was ensured when he began clashing with Jamaica’s champion DJ, Barry G on JBC Radio in Jamaica. He then went on to clash with all the top Jamaican sound systems in the West Indies, the USA and England.
In 1984 he joined BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Corp) where broadcast his weekly reggae show for 25 years until 2009.
In 1990 he joined the newly legalised Kiss 100 where he presented a variety of daytime shows for 10 years, followed by a decade in his evening specialist slot. When his show was pushed back to the small hours in a programming reshuffle, David took a bold stance, protesting against the marginalisation of reggae music before leaving the station in a dramatic media frenzy in 2012. A day later the BBC came calling and signed David. For the last 3 years he has remarkably straddled two different worlds, broadcasting every Sunday evening on BBC 1Xtra to a largely youthful audience, whilst hosting
his Summer Series on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesdays.
In 2006 he was inducted into the Sony Radio Academy Hall Of Fame. He also won the Sony Radio Academy Gold Award for ‘Best Specialist Music Programme’ in 2009 for his Sunday night Kiss Show ‘Rodigan’s Reggae’ and a Silver Award in 2014 for his Radio 2 Summer Series.
He plays his unique collection of customised dub plates and classic recordings extensively across the globe from New York to Tokyo, Berlin to Kingston Jamaica to loyal reggae fans of all ages.
2012 was a truly vintage year for David. In Jan he was awarded an MBE for his services to broadcasting, in April he took home the World Cup Clash title in Queens NYC, and in May he was awarded his forth Sony Gold Award for his superb 13 part series on BBC Radio 2. 2012 also saw the launch of his ‘Ram Jam’ events brand, with David hosting numerous festival tents across Europe.
2014 saw David join forces with platinum selling act Chase & Status and the legendary Shy FX, under the collective name Rebel Sound, competing in the Red Bull Music Culture Clash at Earls Court infront of 25,000 fans plus another 2million streaming the event from the comfort of their own homes. Rebel Sound won the clash comprehensively and trended #1 on Twitter worldwide and were quickly invited to headline Reading & Leeds festival in 2015.
Since then David has continued his relentless touring schedule across the globe, headlining stages at festivals including Parklife, Glastonbury, Bestival, Outlook and Snowbombing whilst juggling two radio shows on BBC 1Xtra and BBC Radio 2.
2017 saw the release of David’s critically and commercially acclaimed autobiography ‘Rodigan My Life In Reggae’ which became a #1 Amazon Best Seller and was nominated for Rough Trade Book Of The Year.
2018 see’s David celebrate his 40th Anniversary in the music business. A remarkable achievement marked by a global world tour and a unique project involving the Outlook Orchestra. David together with the 25-piece sold out the Royal Festival Hall in a staggering 25 minutes, and summer 2018 will see David and the Outlook Orchestra perform on main-stages across festival season.
Rodigan doesn’t stop. And he doesn’t want to either. A true legend and British music icon.
www.rodigan.com / @davidrodigan