HOW TROJAN RECORDS FOUNDER LEE GOPTHAL CREATED A MUSICAL LEGACY OF LOVE, HOPE AND UNITY
The son of an Indo-Jamaican Windrush migrant, Lee Gopthal was the humble businessman whose kind, gentlemanly way led to a musical revolution.
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Trojan Records was launched in the summer of 1968, the joint-venture of Indo-Jamaican Lee Gopthal and Jamaican-raised Briton, Chris Blackwell, who founded Island Records, to cater to a budding population of Caribbean migrants in the UK who sought refuge in the sounds of home.
The same year that Enoch Powell fuelled xenophobic attitudes with his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, warning white Britons of a near-future where “Black man will have the whip hand over the white man”, Trojan Records kickstarted a heroic legacy of bringing West Indian music to the United Kingdom, and bridging cultures through music.
What veteran DJ and cultural historian Don Letts has often described as a “tool for societal change”, Trojan brought together Caribbean migrants and white working class youth, paving the way for a celebrated multicultural Britain. Gopthal, who began selling reggae music to the West Indian community in London from the back of his car, stood out as an immigrant person of colour, running a label in a forbiddingly white world of music executives and radio disc jockeys.