The Influence of Reggae in Modern Europe

Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and Jimmy Cliff are some of the biggest names in reggae, a music genre linked with social issues, cultural movements and politics.

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the genre and its influence. Have a read below to learn more about Reggae!

The Origins of Reggae

This genre was born in the late 60s in the Caribbean country of Jamaica. It got its name from the song ‘Do the Reggay’ by Toots and the Maytals, which was a typical reggae song and was popular at the time.

Jamaica’s biggest musical genre before reggae was rocksteady; before that, it was ska. Both of these genres were heavily inspired by traditional Caribbean music: ska combines elements of calypso and mento, both several decades old at the time, with American rhythm and blues and jazz. Rocksteady comes from the song of the same name by Alton Ellis, in which he sings of a slow style of dancing.

The Influence of Reggae in Britain

Reggae wasn’t going to stay confined to an island country. It didn’t take long for the genre and its music to spread. The fact that many songs were rooted in social causes, activism and political change helped it resonate with people and facilitated its growth.

In 1969, the first British radio stations began adding reggae songs to their playlists. From then on, reggae songs would have a welcome presence in the British music scene.

Huge acts such as The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton recorded and released reggae songs.

What helped the genre grow even more was that Bob Marley himself lived in London at several points throughout the decade.

The Dancehall

In this context, 'dancehall' refers to a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 70s.

It’s a branch of reggae and is thus very similar to it. At first, it was a lot sparser than traditional reggae, though its rhythms gradually became much faster throughout the 80s, thanks to the development of digital music technology. The 80s and 90s saw dancehall become increasingly popular throughout Jamaica and Jamaican communities throughout the world.

Dancehall got its name from Jamaican dance halls where people would dance along to popular songs being played by sound systems. In Jamaican culture, a sound system refers to groups of emcees, disc jockeys and engineers who play music from the reggae, rocksteady and ska genres in particular.

The Influence of Reggae on Other Music

Reggae has long been an important genre of music. It’s inspired many artists from all sorts of backgrounds, including lots of singers from Europe, the US and Africa. It also influenced several counterculture movements.

In the UK, for example, it’s largely responsible for the skinhead subculture, which was made up of young working-class men with shaved heads.

The reggae themes of oppression greatly appealed to this particular demographic, which helped the genre to gain momentum throughout the country.

Reggae is also closely associated with the punk genre; it’s even said to be responsible for the birth of the rap genre in the US.


Reggae is a genre of music that’s become so much more than what it started as. It can be the background music of any of our daily activities, from working out, to cleaning or even playing the slot game.

Reggae has become so widely known thanks to the messages of its songs and the appealing sounds of the music itself, give it a good listen and see for yourself.

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