Mykaell Riley, Director and Principal Investigator at the Black Music Research Unit, has been interviewed on Channel 4 News about how Rock Against Racism brought together Britons of all ethnic backgrounds.

Mykaell Riley on Channel 4
Credit: Channel 4

Rock Against Racism concerts occurred across the UK in the late 70s to a soundtrack of punk and reggae as a reaction to the National Front, the 1970s forerunner to today’s far right. Riley played at Rock Against Racism as a former member of group Steel Pulse. 

Riley said: “Back in the mid-70s, and it’s true today, if you’re an artist and you’re going to be successful, if you’re going to chart, you have to cross over. This means that you have to appeal to the wider public, which is the white British audience.

So, there was no illusion there, on the ground, within the youth communities that were following music. What was interesting was access to that audience, that’s what was really significant, and how you gained access. Rock Against Racism provided that access primarily because black concerts and white concerts were not happening on the same stage, being promoted by the same promoter.” 

Watch the clip on the Channel 4 website.

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