“It's like the Fort Knox of Reggae… if Bob Marley is Jesus, then Roger Steffens is Peter" - Carlos Santana
The world’s largest Reggae Archives are not in Jamaica but in a Los Angeles house basement. Roger Steffens has been collecting and archiving reggae since the 70’s, now with over 300,000 rare and unreleased items, Roger is now the world’s leading reggae archivist.
Like a Willy Wonka of Reggae, Roger’s knowledge is expansive, a tour of his museum transforms you into the world where music is a weapon. Where ideas can inspire a mind and change the world. It's a musical revolution HQ. Visiting Roger Steffens’ Archives is entering rooms within rooms of albums, tapes, posters, books, and all forms of memorabilia. With as many unheard stories of reggae’s history as albums in his collection, “Livicated” takes you on a tour, showing rare gems of music, and hearing the stories that bring the albums and country’s history to life.
Roger’s basement has become a destination for a non-stop stream of visitors, including: Chris Blackwell, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Ben Harper, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and also writers, filmmakers, musicians, and Rastas from around the world show up weekly to research, learn, and gain a deeper understanding of Jamaican history and politics, and how reggae led an international musical revolution. Books such as Catch a Fire: The Bob Marley Story, and box sets such as Songs Of Freedom, Honorary Citizen, and Cd’s such as Peter Tosh: collecionOne Love Peace Concert were all from recordings only Roger has.
“Roger has preserved one of the most important music archives of all time. it's important that someone keeps it from being scattered all over, it's an important job in every generation” Ben Harper
Banned from the radio in its country of origin, Jamaica and reggae have always had a very difficult relationship. Seen as the voice of revolution, the government banned any songs it deemed too controversial, reggae was only played at dancehalls and private parties. With a very dangerous political climate in the 60‘s and 70‘s, reggae fought to survive, despite being banned, Rastas having their locks forced shaved off by authorities, singers jailed or assassinated. Despite their best efforts to stop the music, reggae quickly spread around the world as a voice of unity, equality and revolution. As a result, Jamaica never collected the culture, and very little of the albums, posters, or interviews exist there, even Bob Marley’s house was looted after his death, and many unheard songs have disappeared. Roger has been able to track down the majority of the unreleased music, and as Jamaica tried to make reggae a throw away culture, Roger was there to collect it and reassemble it as a complete history of the country and culture.
"Reggae music keeps selling cuz generational, nothing has really changed so the message is still relevant...each one teach one"- Neville Garrick
After he returned from the Vietnam war, Roger discovered reggae, and began a career and a collection that would one day change the very music that inspired his life’s path. He started working for radio stations, eventually starting the first reggae radio show in Los Angeles, “The Beat” as a DJ at KCRW in Los Angeles. From that radio show he started the Reggae Beat magazine and LA Reggae Cable Show, Roger produced a weekly show featuring rare interviews with Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Cedella Booker, Little Richard, Carlos Santana, and many other freedom fighters about how music can change the world. He has been an advocate and music producer in an effort to fulfill his lifelong dream of making all of the music available to the public.
“Roger is the master historian, he has really put it all back together again, and I think future generations will owe Roger a great deal of gratitude for what he has done.” - Wayne Chen, former VP Jamaican National Party
In an effort to bring the music to the public, Roger takes his unreleased music, interviews, and pictures on the road yearly on his “Life of Bob Marley” tour internationally. He saw how Bob’s music, and reggae touched the lives of people everywhere in the world, and how the music transgressed language, finding loyal massive audiences in Japan, Nepal, France, Russia, Tonga, and many places where English isn’t a first language. From his years on tour he began realizing he needed to transform his tour into a permanent museum so everyone around the world could come visit whenever they wanted, and get to see really learn about the music’s history. As of today the fate of the collection hangs in the balance, still in his basement and scattered in various warehouses, it’s future uncertain. Most of the materials are albums and audio tapes and are deteriorating daily, in immediate need of digitization for preservation. Now at 75 years old, Roger is in a race against time to preserve his own collection, a musical history of the equal rights revolution in Jamaica and beyond.