Although seemingly inconsequential at the time, July 28th 1967 proved to be a momentous date in the history of Jamaican music. For it was on that day that Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal from Island Records, one of the UK's leading independent record companies, launched a sub-label that would come to symbolise and forever be associated with the reggae style that was to make Jamaica a musical superpower.
The imprint was of course Trojan. A subsidiary created specifically to showcase the productions of one of Jamaica's most popular and successful producers, Arthur "Duke" Reid, who himself had acquired the moniker from the make of the British-built seven-ton truck he had used to transport his powerful sound system around the island since the fifties.
The company took its name from Reid's Trojan sound system and eponymous Jamaican label active at the same time -this has a different design, depicting two bulls [fighting in the label ring] and Tarus (sic) inscribed on the right.
Over the initial six months eleven singles were issued in the UK on the Island off-shoot but, by the start of 1968, the company had pulled the plug, deciding their Treasure Isle imprint would suffice as main output for Duke Reid's material in the UK. Nonetheless, during its brief lifespan, the Trojan label had highlighted some of the finest music to emanate from Jamaica during the height of the Rocksteady era. The Trojan Story might well have ended there, with the label little more than a footnote in the annals of Island Records' illustrious history, and that it is not is due more to luck than forethought. Some seven months after its demise, Trojan was resurrected, altough this time around it was much more than just a minor, if respectable, Jamaican music label. Now it was a new dynamic company that over the coming years would dominate the Jamaican records market in the UK.
In the 60s and 70s Trojan Records successfully spread Reggae throughout the UK and beyond, licensing Jamaican recordings as well as producing UK based acts.
The original parent company Trojan Recordings Ltd. and the Trojan back catalogue was sold to Allied Records Ltd. in the 1970s and Allied continued to release records as Trojan Records.
The full Trojan Records catalogue was acquired by Sanctuary Records Group Ltd. in 2001. In 2007, Sanctuary was bought by the Universal Music Group who sold it to BMG in 2013. Since 2014, the Trojan records have been distributed throughout in Europe by BMG with Pias.