Rockers is a 1978 Jamaican film by Theodoros Bafaloukos. Several popular reggae artists star in the movie, including Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, Big Youth, Dillinger, and Jacob Miller.
Rockers was originally intended to be a documentary but blossomed into a full-length feature showing the reggae culture at its peak. With a budget of JA$500,000, the film was completed in two months.
In this film, the culture, characters and mannerisms are authentic. The main rocker Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, for example, is shown living with his actual wife and kids and in his own home. The recording studios shown are the famous Harry J Studios where many roots reggae artists recorded during the 1970s including Bob Marley. The film includes Kiddus I’s recording of “Graduation In Zion” at the studio, which he happened to be recording when Bafaloukos visited the studio.
Rockers premiered at the 1978 San Francisco Film Festival and had a theatrical release in the US in 1980.
Samples of the film’s dialogue were used in the early 1990s jungle track, “Babylon” by Splash, “Terrorist Dub” by Californian ragga-metal band Insolence, and in the track “Zion Youth” from the 1995 album Second Light by Dreadzone. The Jamaican Patois spoken throughout the film is rendered with English language subtitles for a foreign audience.
Making it in the music business in Kingston, Jamaica, is hard, and nobody knows it better than regularly unemployed drummer Horsemouth (Leroy Wallace). Although talented, he earns precious little for his music and is obliged to try hustling vinyl records on the side. It’s a lousy gig, but Horsemouth takes his lumps amiably, until some brash members of the local Mafia steal his motorbike. Determined to get it back, he and his friends concoct a daring scheme.