1960’s Rude-boys (Rudies)

In the 1950s Jamaicans and nationals of other caribbean islands were invited to the UK and other Commonwealth countries to help with labour shortages after the second world war.

The Windrush arriving to the UK

In the 1960s, with the absence of older generations, Jamaica was hit with a decade of violence which spiralled from poor economy, lack of skilled workers and politics.

(My grandfather left Jamaica in late 1955, followed by grandmother, mother and her siblings in 1962)

The Jamaican capital, Kingston was worst hit. Unemployment was high (26% increase between years of 1960-65, McElwee, 2002) and crime soared. Both young men and women from rural areas travelled to the capital determined to find work but were turned away due to lack of skills.

As the government provided young Jamaicans with no support, they took to the streets to provoke violence creating the ‘Rude Boy’ culture.

Rude boys

“Rudie culture has developed as to command adherents among the majority of lower class youth”- G, White, Caribbean Quaterly.

Fuelled by the popularised Cowboy and Gangster movies, Rude Boys carried guns, machetes and small knives. However, penalties were stiif if caught, mainly life imprisonment.

“Rude-boy denoted truants, juvenile, delinquents, rebels, petty criminals and occasionally career criminals”- G, Rattray, The Gleaner, 2011


Wore the lastest fashions including:

  • sharp suits
  • thin ties
  • pork pie or Trilby hats

Rude Boy in Jamaica, 2012


They listened to Ska, reggae and rocksteady. Many musicians at the time came from similar backgrounds and were able to relate with the youths situations.

Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come http://youtu.be/19BdOnqCBco

Pete Tosh & The Soulmates, Rudie’s Medley http://youtu.be/CfJjOX_c2bU

The Wailers, Rude Boy http://youtu.be/-Nhgb9hC7UI, Jailhouse http://youtu.be/UFo4cq1hasY

The Roots of Reggae, 2009


Throughout the years there have been Jamaican-made films portraying the hard times of youths searching for better but ending up turning to crime due to the lack of opportunities yet still in hope of success.

The Harder They Come, film 1972

The Harder They Come (1972) http://youtu.be/86PzufTxcH0

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