Linton Kwesi Johnson was born on 24 August 1952 in Chapelton, Clarendon in rural Jamaica. He came to London in 1963, went to Tulse Hill Secondary School and studied Sociology at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. Whilst at school he joined the Black Panthers, helped to organise a poetry workshop within the movement and developed his work with Rasta Love, a group of poets and drummers. In 1977 he was awarded a C Day Lewis Fellowship, becoming the writer-in-residence for the London Borough of Lambeth for that year. He went on to work as the Library Resources and Education Officer at the Keskidee Centre, the first home of black theatre and art.
In 1974 Race Today published his first poetry collection, Voices of the Living and the Dead. Dread Beat An’ Blood was published in 1975 by Bogle-L’Ouverture and was also the title of his first LP released by Virgin (1978). That year also saw the release of the film Dread Beat An’ Blood, a documentary on Johnson’s work. In 1980 Race Today published Inglan Is A Bitch and there were four more albums with Island: Forces of Victory (1979), Bass Culture (1980), LKJ in Dub (1981) and Making History (1983).