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Official: Saxon Studio Sound System at Hackney Downs August 1984 pt1

Saxon Studio International is by far the UK’s most internationally acclaimed and globally recognized sound. Founded by Lloyd ‘Musclehead’ Francis and Denis Rowe in 1976, Saxon has come a long way since its humble beginnings playing Lovers’ Rock to local crowds at house parties and blues dance in southeast London. Now boasting legendary status, this pioneering collective of DJs and MCs have been instrumental in shaping Britain’s musical and cultural landscape over the past four decades.

Born in the UK, Lloyd and Denis’s upbringing was heavily influenced by their Jamaican roots. As a child, Denis spent a lot of his time at the record pressing plant where his uncle worked, and Lloyd’s mother would often keep house parties. These early experiences fed the pair’s passion for music and inspired them to form Saxon sound in their teens. Using the income earned from local gigs, they began importing exclusive records and dubplates from Jamaica and set about building custom built amplifiers mixers and speaker boxes, to impress their audiences and outdo rival sounds.

With a fast growing reputation to play exclusive reggae music on UK shores, Saxon quickly established a large following and began to attract a number of budding artists keen to perform live vocals on their set. Early Saxon MCs Peter King and Papa Levi pioneered a new ‘fast chat’ style on the microphone, which became hugely popular with the crowds. This unique style of emceeing formed Saxon’s trademark and their strict policy of ‘no piracy’ encouraged artists to come up with original lyrics that were fresh and exciting. Other MCs such as Asher Senator, Daddy Colonel, Daddy Rusty and Daddy Sandy also adopted the ‘fast chat’ pattern, each adding their own twist to the style, which helped establish Saxon as a powerful musical brand.

With notoriety and popularity building, In 1983 Maxi Priest’s ‘Strolling On’ reached number one in the UK charts, swiftly followed by Papa Levi’s ‘Mi God Mi King’ (the first British reggae release to top the Jamaican charts). This spurred a deal with Greensleeves Records, under which Saxon produced and released Smiley Culture’s ‘Cockney Translator’, along with Tippa Irie’s ‘Hello Darling’, both reaching the top 20 in the UK

Saxon provided the perfect training ground and career launch pad for a number of chart-topping reggae artists including Maxi Priest,

Tippa Irie and the late Smiley Culture charts. As the buzz grew, Saxon artists began making headline news back in Jamaica so much so that Jamaican reggae artists started to mimic Saxon’s ‘fast chat’ style.

Widespread dissemination of audio cassette tapes from dances over the years added to Saxon’s mass appeal, and requests for overseas gigs started flooding in. In 1988 Saxon toured Jamaica and made history by becoming the first UK sound to defeat opponents in the land where sound system culture was first conceived, and in 1992 Saxon was officially crowned the UK’s number one sound, winning the UK Sound Clash title. Two years later Saxon went on to become the first British sound system to win the coveted World Clash trophy, cementing their position as leaders on the global sound system stage.

Acknowledged by Jazzie B as a key influence on Soul II Soul and regularly saluted by David Rodigan, news of Saxon had ground-breaking genres such as Jungle, Drum & Bass, UK Garage and Grime.

More than a sound, Saxon’s versatility as musical entertainers has carried them far beyond the regular festival and sound clash circuits. In in 2008 global sportswear brand Puma took Saxon on a world tour to places such as Brazil and in 2012 Puma booked Saxon as the headliners for ‘Puma Yard’ during the London 2012 Olympics cultural celebrations.

Adding newer members to its crew including Lloyd’s younger brother, selector ‘Mini Muscle’, MC Victor Victorious and DJ Allan Brando, Saxon continues to perform live at various events at home and abroad and is one of the longest standing sounds to play at the annual London Notting Hill Carnival. Their spot at St Lawrence Terrace W10 attracts more than 15,000 fans over the two-days of the largest street festival in Europe, where you can often find some of Jamaica’s most popular reggae artists performing, including Beenie Man, Damian Marley, Shaggy and Sean Paul.

The Legacy of Saxon Sound Continues…….
#reggae #soundsystem #culture
BIG UP Mikey Glammer for this classic