The police were present both at the beginning of Smiley Culture's career, and at the end of his life. In 1984, he had a minor hit with "Police Officer", a tongue-in-cheek and somewhat improbable autobiographical tale. The song sees our hero stopped by the police in his native South London for driving while black. Unfortunately, he also has in his car a quantity of ganja, but happily before the embarrassing discovery can be made, one of the officers recognises him as the man behind "Cockney Translation
", and after Smiley gives the plod his autograph, he is on his merry way.
Alas, in real life, there was no such happy ending. After early success he briefly hosted a TV show, then faded from the scene. In July 2010, he was charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine, an offence that always attracts a heavy sentence in Britain.
In September that same year, he told the Guardian
: 'My hit single "Police Officer" was a true story - the police used to take my weed. It was better than being arrested, and I made that into a hit. With "Cockney Translation" I was a black man talking cockney. I integrated cultures even though I didn't understand it at the time. I was invited to meet the Queen, who said she listened to my records in the palace.'
The thought of the Queen of England listening to reggae in Buckingham Palace is rather amusing, but she would hardly be likely to listen to the Sex Pistols
, now would she?