From the archive
Have you kept in touch with the people in [your movie, Rockers]?
Most of them are dead. Half were murdered. Dirty Harry, for instance, was killed in New York. He went to jail for two years, probably for drugs or a fight. I’m not sure, I didn’t ask. Six months after he got out of jail someone killed him. The same with Natty Garfield. In contrast, a friend I’d written off as dead is in fact alive. We spoke on the phone recently. I ask all the time, “Is this guy still alive, is that guy dead?” Most of them are no longer in Jamaica.
Did you make many friends?
I was there for so many years, I had to make friends, to open up all my cards. I did not have many, but I wanted everyone to know who I was. There was a time when people from Jamaica would come to our house in New York every day. We lived near Brooklyn, where Jamaicans also lived, but whoever came to town for a gig would also drop by.
Did they respect what you were doing?
Everyone thinks I’ve made a lot of money. Well, not everyone, but it is difficult to make people believe that I didn’t make a cent.
If someone were to hear the title today, they would think that it is not a film about Jamaicans.
The term Rockers was very popular during reggae’s heyday. There was this new, very sophisticated sound with new drumming systems. Sly Dunbar introduced his own rhythm in a way. Harder. It was a word you’d hear a lot then: “Rock steady, rockers.” The producer chose the title. The artwork is mine, as is the poster. I did it all myself because there was no one else to do it.
Who wrote the script?
Were you smoking a ton of weed at the time?
And how was the Jamaican weed?
Awful. Even worse than New York’s.