Linton Kwesi Johnson (aka LKJ, born 24 August 1952) is a UK-based Jamaican-British dub poet. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series. His performance poetry involves the recitation of his own verse in Jamaican patois over dub-reggae, usually written in collaboration with renowned British reggae producer/artist Dennis Bovell.

Johnson was born in Chapelton, a small town in the rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. In 1963 he came to live in Brixton, London, joining his mother who had emigrated to Britain shortly before Jamaican independence in 1962. Johnson's best-known albums include his debut 'Dread Beat an' Blood' (1978), 'Forces of Victory' (1979), 'Bass Culture' (1980), 'LKJ In Dub' (1980), and 'Making History' (1983).

(Read more at Wikipedia.)

Links To Peel

As a keen supporter of British reggae, Peel was naturally drawn to the work of poet Linton Kwesi Johnson with reggae producer and musical director Dennis Bovell, whose band Matumbi had two earlier Peel sessions. The DJ had featured poetry of various kinds on his shows since Perfumed Garden and Night Ride in the 1960s, and JKJ offered a new and distinctive form of spoken word performance with music that drew on the black experience in Britain.

There were two Peel sessions, in 1979 and 1981, the second with Bovell playing all of the instruments after the other musicians didn't turn up.[1] In 1982, Peel also gave a session to Jamaican dub-poet Michael Smith, who had been brought to Britain by Johnson and recorded for the LKJ label.

After Peel's death, the LKJ session track 'Reggae Fi Peach' appeared in the 4-CD box set tribute 'Kats Karavan: The History of John Peel On The Radio'. In the accompanying booklet, Johnson remembered the DJ:

”John Peel is the only mainstream radio disc jockey who played reggae on his shows. Were it not for him I would never have been heard on BBC radio. I will always admire him for his open-mindedness and his inclusivity.”

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None


Two sessions only. 'Reggae Fi Peach' from #2 released on 'Kats Karavan: The History of John Peel On The Radio' (4xCD box set, 2009, Universal)

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON (John Peel Session 1979)

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON (John Peel Session 1979)

1. Recorded 1979-05-01. First broadcast 08 May 1979. Repeated 04 June 1979 (JP: "You might possibly accuse us of paying a kind of woolly Babylonian lip service to liberalism, but you couldn't accuse Linton Kwesi Johnson of doing so, and that's the important thing"), 14 August 1980.

  • Down Di Road / Want Fi Goh Rave / It Dread Inna Inglan / Sonny's Lettah / Reality Poem

2. Recorded 1981-10-03. First Broadcast 27 October 1981. Repeated 18 November 1981.

  • Independent Intavenshan / Reality Poem / Reggae Fi'Peach / All Wi' Doin Is Defendin'

Other Shows Played

  • 15 August 1978: Dread Beat An' Blood (LP-Dread Beat An' Blood) Frontline (credited to 'Poet And The Roots')
  • 17 August 1978: Five Nights Of Bleeding (LP – Dread Beat An’ Blood) Front Line (credited to 'Poet And The Roots')
  • 18 August 1978: Come Wi Goh Dung Deh (album - Dread Beat An' Blood ) Virgin FL 1017 (JP refuses to read out title as he thinks that unless he does it in patois he will sound like a berk) (credited to 'Poet And The Roots')
  • 25 August 1978: Man Free (For Darcus Howe) (Album: Dread Beat An' Blood) Heartbeat (credited to 'Poet And The Roots')
  • 28 August 1978: Doun De Road (album - Dread Beat An' Blood) Front Line (credited to 'Poet And The Roots')
  • 03 August 1981: Five Nights Of Bleeding (album - Dread Beat An' Blood) Virgin
  • 06 November 1985: Dread Beat An' Blood (album - In Concert With The Dub Band) Virgin
  • 20 October 2004: Forces of Victory (LP - Forces of Victory) Mango (Siouxsie Sioux sits in for Peel, who is on holiday in Peru)

See Also

External Links


  1. Ken Garner, Kats Karavan: The History of John Peel On The Radio (4xCD box set) - booklet introduction, pg 2.
  2. In Good Night and Good Riddance (Faber & Faber, 2015, pg 244), writer David Cavanagh notes that Peel mispronounces "Kwesi".
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