Trojan Records

infobox record label

image_bg = #030
parent = Sanctuary Records Group
founded = 1968
founder = Lee Gopthal
genre = ska - rocksteady - reggae
dub - dancehall - soul
country = United Kingdom
url =

Trojan Records is a British record label specialising in ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub music. The label operates under the Sanctuary Records Group.

Beginnings and heyday

Trojan records, founded in 1968, was one of many labels in the United Kingdom that fed the ska, rocksteady and reggae craze sweeping the country. Founder Lee Gopthal had collaborated with Chris Blackwell of Island Records on mail order sales, which prompted Gopthal to start a record store called Musicland (which became part of the Muzik City Record Shops chain). Trojan's name comes from the Croydon-built Trojan truck that was used by Duke Reid in Jamaica, which had "Duke Reid - The Trojan King of Sounds" painted on the sides. Reid's sound system became known as the "Trojan Sound", which became synonymous with the new and hip music.

By 1970, Trojan artists that were making headway into the pop music charts included: Lee Perry's Upsetters, Bob & Marcia, The Cimarons, Desmond Dekker, Bruce Ruffin, Nicky Thomas and Dave and Ansell Collins. (Note: a common misconception is that Dave & Ansell Collins were brothers, although Dave Barker was a stand-alone artist and not related to Ansel Collins.)

Trojan's main function was not to develop new artists, but to serve as a sister label for Island Records. Monetary success came from releasing Jamaican music supplied by producers such as Duke Reid, Byron Lee and Leslie Kong into a series of popular, budget-priced compilations such as, "Tighten Up", "Club Reggae" and "Reggae Chartbusters".


In 1972, Island Records pulled out of its partnership with Trojan Records. Around the same time, there was a declining interest in Jamaican music among British youth subcultures such as the mods, skinheads and suedeheads — who at first strongly embraced the reggae sound, but ventured towards other genres when Rastafarian lyrics and slower tempos entered the music. In 1974, Trojan had made attempts to Anglicize the reggae on the label, by re-mastering and overdubbing string arrangements over the original Jamaican recordings. They also brought in more British reggae artists, such as Symarip and Greyhound. However, the company was still out of step with the British reggae fanbase; largely missing out on the Rasta and the lovers rock phases of reggae, which could have brought more commercial success.

In 1974 (finalized in 1975), Trojan was bought by the Saga company, which focused on releasing budget LPs. Trojan was now headed by individuals who were not familiar with its current catalogue, or with reggae music. Stipulations about royalties and contracts were lost in the sale, leaving many Trojan artists unpaid for subsequent royalties. By the time Dave Hendley came on board as the A&R person, the label had a sullied reputation. Under his influence, Trojan released notable albums by Mikey Dread, I-Roy, and Black Uhuru.

Due to Trojan's inability to compete with new labels like Greensleeves Records for fresh talent, Dave Hendley began to compile albums of older material — from Trojan's back catalogue and unreleased Jamaican masters. Hendley left the company in 1982 and Trojan Records settled into inactivity.


In 1985, Colin Newman (not the Wire member Colin Newman) bought Trojan from Marcel Rodd, the CEO of Saga. Colin also had no deep knowledge of reggae, but the company soon brought in Steve Barrow, Chris Prete, Penny Reel, Lionel Young and Laurence Cane-Honeysett to research and compile new Trojan releases. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Trojan was unearthing and compiling a lot of reggae recordings and re-issuing them for the first time in 25 years. They established more equitable business practices and contributed some reggae classics to be remixed for TV commercials for TDK, Adidas and the 2000 UEFA European Football Championship. They also started the popular Trojan Box Set series, which usually feature 50 songs on a 3-CD (or vinyl record) set in a simple cardboard package.

In 2001, the Sanctuary Records Group purchased Trojan for £10.3 million. This purchase added Trojan to a long list of specialty labels, such as Indigo, Attack and Ras Records. The deal gave the label leverage to buy music rights controlled by other vintage reggae labels, secure worldwide distribution, and to enact slicker marketing campaigns.

In 2006 Trojan Records signed a deal with Pama International to release 'Trojan Sessions'.

In June 2007, Universal Music added Trojan Records to its empire with the purchase of Trojan's parent company Sanctuary Records for £45 million. This change of ownership resulted in the loss of staff and a delay in the release schedule.

Influence on skinhead symbolism

Trojan skinheads, influenced by traditional 1960s skinhead culture, are named after Trojan Records, to stress the influence of black Jamaican music and rude boy style to the skinhead subculture. This designation emphasizes differences from the Oi!-influenced punk-skinheads of the 1980s, and (especially) the white power skinheads. The logo of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) is based on the Trojan Records logo, although the helmet is reversed to face the opposite direction.

Trojan sub-labels

*Big Shot
*Blue Cat
*Doctor Bird
*Down Town
*Green Door
*Harry J
*High Note
*Hot Rod
*Pressure Beat
*Song Bird
*Techniques Records
*Treasure Isle

ee also

* List of record labels


*Michael de Koningh & Laurence Cane-Honeysett: "Young, Gifted And Black, The Story Of Trojan Records", 2003, Sanctuary Publishing, UK, ISBN 1-86074-464-8.

External links

* [ Official Trojan Records site] ------

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