Born OTD in 1944, Bob Andy. Bob Andy was one of the founding members of The Paragons, along with Tyrone Evans and Howard Barrett, with John Holt later joining briefly before being replaced by Vic Taylor. Andy left after Holt rejoined and worked for Studio One delivering records and songwriting before embarking on a solo career.

Bob Andy is, arguably, reggae’s first serious songwriter. In the 1960s, when top ska and rocksteady acts were into covering … More

Born OTD in 1931, American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus at Princeton University, Toni Morrison. Many people consider Morrison’s novels difficult to read. Most of her readers have at least one book on their shelves that they couldn’t finish or, when they did finish one, just scratched their heads in confusion. And when we think we are sure we know what she’s writing about, it turns out we are half wrong or only getting the tip of the iceberg instead of the whole, beautiful, brooding thing.

“Toni Morrison For Beginners” is about the woman, her books, her mission, her word music, and all that subtext in … More

Born OTD in 1953, reggae drummer of The Specials, John ‘Brad’ Bradbury. Brad played a crucial role in the history of the Specials, the still massively successful multiracial band that first shook up the British music scene in the late 1970s & early 80s by mixing Jamaican ska with punk energy, a bravely political stance & good humour. They were that rarity, a thoughtful band who created great dance music, & Brad was central to their distinctive style. According to the band’s bass player, Horace Panter: “He called his approach ‘attack drumming’ & it became the Specials’ signature sound. He mixed the drive of northern soul with a reggae feel. And he improvised. He was different every night.”

Against the backdrop of the demise of punk, social unrest, and the coming to power of Margaret Thatcher, the Specials … More

Born OTD in 1809, English naturalist, geologist & biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution, Charles Darwin. Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s & his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, … More

Born OTD in 1963, English reggae singer & DJ known for his ‘fast chat’ style, David Victor Emmanuel, AKA Smiley Culture. Prior to his recording career he worked as a DJ with many of London’s reggae sound systems, most often with the Saxon Studio International system, where he met & worked with a number of other reggae artists, including Maxi Priest, Papa Levi and Tippa Irie. The conditions surrounding his death & the subsequent investigation were also questioned by members of the general public, his death often being considered in the context of police brutality & other black people dying in police custody.

‘Sound Reasoning’ is a unique photographic journey through the Dancehall scene of the 1980’s with short excerpts from interviews Anna … More

Born OTD in 1885, American novelist, short-story writer, & playwright, Sinclair Lewis. Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear & promising drastic economic & social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism & “traditional” values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government & imposes a plutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS.

The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as … More

Born OTD in 1912, English Marxist historian and academic, specialising in 17th-century English history, Christopher Hill. Within the English revolution of the mid-17th century which resulted in the triumph of the protestant ethic – the ideology of the propertied class – there threatened another, quite different, revolution. Its success ‘might have established communal property, a far wider democracy in political & legal institutions, might have disestablished the state church & rejected the protestant ethic’.

In ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ Christopher Hill studies the beliefs of such radical groups as the Diggers, the Ranters, … More

Born OTD in 1945, Jamaican singer-songwriter who became an international musical & cultural icon, Robert Nesta Marley. Blending mostly reggae, ska, & rocksteady in his compositions. Marley started in 1963 with the group The Wailers & forged a distinctive songwriting & vocal style that became popular with audiences worldwide. The Wailers released some of the earliest reggae records with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma in 1977, Marley died on the 11 May 1981 in Miami at the … More