HIS iconic black and white images framed an iconic black and white movement.
Now, 40 years on, photographer Syd Shelton insists the passion for protest that ignited Rock Against Racism is needed now more than ever.
Their gigs, festivals and rallies raised a flag where, for five years from 1976, music fans, black and white, would unite and fight for a multicultural Britain.
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Shelton, an activist and photographer, was there from the start. On the stage, at concerts by bands like The Clash, The Specials and Misty in Roots and on the street, at tense, tinderbox marches through the National Front strongholds of east London.
Shelton believes his acclaimed photographs, which went on show in Scotland yesterday, capture a moment in the past both very different and very similar to the present.
“In some ways, social media for example, things could not have changed more but the fundamentals, the things that matter most, remain the same,” he said. “It is about people seeing what is happening and being willing to get out there, to stand up and be counted, to say enough is enough.
“The recession then was different, the cuts were different, but the victims were the same, the poor, the disabled, the minorities. Racism was different then too, more obvious, maybe, but racism is shifting sand. It's insidious, always finding new targets, new scapegoats.
“Then the targets were Afro-Caribbean communities, Asian communities, now it is Muslim communities, it is refugees.
“Targets change, language changes, but the hatred stays the same.”
Shelton, 69,who now lives in Brighton, is happy to see Rock Against Racism remembered in the show that opened at Glasgow's Street Level Photoworks gallery yesterday.
The four-week exhibition will also include events celebrating Scotland's role in Rock Against Racism with contributors including actor Tam Dean Burn and musician Ken McCluskey.
Shelton said: “It touched a hell of a lot of people all around the country. We sold two and a half million badges but it wasn't some dour, political campaign.
“It was a five-year party, a chemical reaction that came when UK reggae and punk collided. It was a reaction to the National Front but it was more a celebration of the music and energy.
“We were positive about multiculturalism rather than negative about anything.
“It was an idea whose time had come.”
Shelton has seen the same spirit of revolt that fired Rock Against Racism in the recent wave of protests against Donald Trump.
He said: “At a lot of demos you pick up a placard from a pile and they're all the same with the Labour Party or Socialist Worker or whatever across the top, very regimented.
“At the Trump protests, the placards are all do-it-yourself, people making their own signs. Like Rock Against Racism, it is a DIY movement, grassroots. You pick up the baton and run with it.
“To watch three and a half million women picking it up and marching against Trump, around the world, on the same day, was amazing.
“It is starting again. Resistance is building.”
Shelton recalls some of his favourite photographs in the exhibition.
Paul Simonon, Victoria Park, London, 30 April 1978
The idea was to march from Trafalgar Square to the carnival at Victoria Park, about five miles away.
Everyone told us no one would march, that people would go straight to the park.
I was living in Charing Cross Road at the time, next to Trafalgar Square, and I remember the night before not being able to sleep, worrying no one was going to come.
Then, all through the night, I heard people outside singing and chanting and when I went to the Square, ridiculously early, about half-six, there must have been 10,000 people already there.
And there were Scots everywhere. Dozens of buses had arrived from Glasgow overnight. It was amazing. Eventually around 100,000 marched to the park.
Tom Robinson was headlining and The Clash, who were the hottest band in the country at the time, weren't even on the posters. They only rang us about two weeks before saying they wanted to be part of it.
They were great but we had a tight curfew imposed by the council and they wouldn't stop playing. Eventually, we had to pull the plug on them.
I got this shot of their bass player Paul Simonon, facing the crowd in a classic rock'n'roll pose, from the back of the stage and then almost instantly got thrown off.
It became the most iconic photograph of the day.
Militant Entertainment Tour, West Runton Pavilion, Cromer, Norfolk, 1979
It's a special picture for me and it was a special night, a very strange place. A big shed next to the beach, it felt a long way from London.
It was a fantastic gig, the Ruts, Gang of Four, and Misty in Roots. Full of energy.
I saw the girl climb onto the stage and thought I need to get that picture. So I clambered over people's heads, finally got onto the stage, for a split second. Next thing I was in the air then on the floor.
I got in at seven o'clock and the 20 minutes waiting for it to develop were the longest ever.
When I saw that I had it, it was a real punch the air moment.
That night in the middle of nowhere, felt like real punk, not Kings Road, Vivienne Westwood punk. That's why Rock Against Racism was important.
People from the centre of London, to the north of Norfolk, to the Highlands of Scotland came together. No one was excluded. If you wanted to be involved, you were.
It was empowering. We felt we could change the world.
Skinheads, Petticoat Lane, East London 1979
I had gone along to this shop called Last Resort, which used to sell skinhead gear and was a place where skins would gather at the weekends.
I found these two guys there and they were up for pictures.
But I was getting nothing from them. They were just standing there, no attitude, nothing. It just wasn't working at all.
So I started getting into politics and race with them, arguing with them.
And I remember the guy in the Crombie getting angrier and angrier and I kept on arguing and arguing.
Eventually, I could see his fists clenching up. I knew I had to get the picture and take off before he hit me. So I did.
Anti-racist skinheads, Hackney, London 1979
These guys were very brave.
They started Skins Against the Nazis and were proud to wear their Rock Against Racism badges.
They got into a lot of fights because of that but were still willing to take a stand.
It touches on a lot of the contradictions in skinhead culture.
Their huge love of reggae and ska on one hand and a big seam of racism on the other. It's ridiculous really.
Specials fans, Potternewton Park, Leeds, 1981
I like this picture very much but, at the time, I didn't notice it, didn't even print it.
I think it captures the excitement of the gig but also how style had gone full circle, from Rude Boys in Jamaica through skinheads to Rude Boys in Leeds.
They have the Ben Sherman button-down shirts, the braces, the Harringtons, total skinhead gear. I love that cycle, how style goes and comes around again in a new way.
It was The Specials' last show with Jerry Dammers and I remember him saying to me once that Rock Against Racism could come to a natural end in 1981because Two Tone had taken up the baton.
He was right but, then, I'm not sure if Two Tone would have happened without Rock Against Racism.
Those bands and their audiences were exactly what we had been fighting for.