Reggae history:Pat and Randy Chin, principals of VP Records

The annual Grounation (symposia and exhibition) series will kick off today at the Institute of Jamaica. The signature event — staged by the Herbie Miller-led Jamaica Music Museum — will devote four weeks to examining the role of the Chinese in the development of Jamaican Music, under the theme: ‘Black Head Chiney Man’.
Tom “Great Sebastian” Wong provides one of the earliest examples of Chinese involvement in the Jamaican music industry . He had a store/shop at the corner of Luke Lane and Charles Street.

Tom knew the value of using music to attract customers and set up what many consider to be one of the earliest examples of the Jamaican sound system. This he did with the technical support of the great Hedley Jones, who would be responsible for the design and assembly of much of the electronic equipment used in early Jamaican studios and sound systems.

There are those who point to Ivan Chin as another example of early Chinese involvement in the nascent Jamaican music industry. Chin produced the recordings of mento star Alert Bedassee, whose risqué musical offerings “scandalised polite society” during the ’50s. Bedasee’s Night Food is considered by many to be among the first recorded Jamaican hits.

Also numbered among the pioneers is one Vincent “Randy” Chin, whose eponymous record store and studio at North Parade would produce some of the earliest classics at the dawn of Jamaican Independence with the Trinidad-originated artiste Lord Creator. One of the products of that musical collaboration was Kingston Town, which became a major international hit through a cover done by British-based group UB40.

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