This is the unlikely story of David Rodigan: an Army sergeant's son from the English countryside who has become the man who has taught the world about reggae. As the sound of Jamaica has morphed over five decades through a succession of different genres — from Ska and Rock Steady, to Dub, Roots and Dancehall — Rodigan has remained its constant champion, winning the respect of generation after generation of Reggae followers across the globe.
Today, at the age of 63, he is a headline performer at almost all the UK's big music festivals, as well as events across the world. Young people revere him and he is a leading presenter on the BBC's youth network 1Xtra as well as a regular fixture at leading nightclubs such as London's Fabric and at student unions throughout the land. And he continues to go into the heartlands of reggae, to the downtown dancehalls of Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica to compete in tournaments against the greatest sound systems.
And yet, for all of this, David Rodigan is the antithesis of the stereotype of an international dance music DJ. "I look like an accountant or a dentist," he admitted to The Independent a decade ago. A man of impeccable manners, Rodigan prepares for a big sound clash by retiring to his hotel bed with a Thomas Hardy novel before taking a nap and then a cup of espresso before heading to the club.
Rodigan is the inside story of this apparent paradox. It tells how a boy from Kidlington has become an admired international ambassador for a music form that remains as proud as ever of its African roots, a sound that emanates from and fiercely represents the ghetto poor. He now reaches across the age groups, from teens through to those of his own vintage. At the pinnacle of his career, Rodigan has become the DJ for all generations.