By Howard Campbell—–
In commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country’s culture. This week we feature film Rockers.
A poster of the movie Rockers
THE Harder They Come pops up whenever there is a discussion about reggae and film. While its impact was not as far-reaching, Rockers retains a global cult following.
Filmed in Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Rockers was the brainchild of American film-makers Patrick Hulsey and Ted Bafaloukos.
It starred a who’s who of roots-reggae. Drummer Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace had the starring role as a struggling musician who decides to meet the system head-on after years of being exploited by producers.
Singers Burning Spear, Jacob Miller and Kiddus-I, and saxophonist Richard ‘Dirty Harry’ Hall all had feature roles.
In a 2003 interview with the Jamaica Observer, Hulsey said he and Bafaloukos initially wanted to do a documentary on reggae when they began filming in 1977.
“But there was so much interesting stuff that eventually it became a feature film with a storyline and lots of music,” Hulsey recalled.
Rockers was released in 1978 and 1979, respectively, at the San Francisco and Cannes film festivals. It received strong reviews
Like Red X, Heartland Reggae and Bongo Man, Rockers is a favourite among hardcore reggae fans, especially in Europe and the United States west coast.
It made Wallace a major star in Europe where he remains the go-to drummer for emerging reggae acts.